Socioeconomic Rights and Theories of Justice

31 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2010 Last revised: 1 Dec 2010

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law

Date Written: October 29, 2010

Abstract

This paper considers the relation between theories of justice (like John Rawls’s theory) and theories of socio-economic rights. In different ways, these two kinds of theory address much the same subject-matter. But they are quite strikingly different in format and texture. Theories of socio-economic rights defend particular line-item requirements: a right to this or that good or opportunity (e.g., housing, health care, education, social security). Theories of justice tend to involve a more integrated normative account of a society’s basic structure (though they differ considerably among themselves in their structure). So how exactly should we think about their relation? The basic claim of the paper is that we should strive to bring these two into closer relation with one another, since it is only in the context of a theory of justice that we can properly assesses the competition that arises between claims of socio-economic right and other claims on public and private resources.

Keywords: Nozick, Rawls, justice, human rights, rights, scarcity, socioeconomic rights

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, Socioeconomic Rights and Theories of Justice (October 29, 2010). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-79. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1699898 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1699898

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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