The Development of Herman Dooyeweerd's Concept of Rights

South African Law Journal, Vol. 110, p. 543-562, 1993

Emory Legal Studies Research Paper

11 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2011 Last revised: 15 Jan 2020

See all articles by John Witte

John Witte

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: 1993

Abstract

Herman Dooyeweerd was one of the foremost Calvinist jurists and philosophers of the twentieth century, who left a massive body of writings on the history of ideas, philosophy, human anthropology, and social, political, and legal theory. This Article focuses on one small part of Dooyeweerd's thought, his concept of rights. Dooyeweerd addressed the subject of rights and liberties several times in his career, each time seeking to develop a comprehensive Calvinist theory on this topic. His initial efforts in the 1920s and 1930s led him to a rather traditional Calvinist concept of political liberties, rooted in simple theological principles. His later efforts, culminating in the 1950s and 60s yielded an intricate modal concept of legal competences and subjective rights, rooted in a complex philosophical system. This Article pays particular attention to the analytical stages in the development of Dooyeweerd’s rights theory, and the impact on this thought of the two World Wars, the return of natural law theories after the Wars, and the rise of the international human rights movement.

Keywords: Religion, Law, History, Herman, Dooyeweerd, Calvin, Calvinism, jurisprudence, rights, liberties, competences, natural law, natural rights

Suggested Citation

Witte, John, The Development of Herman Dooyeweerd's Concept of Rights (1993). South African Law Journal, Vol. 110, p. 543-562, 1993, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1851248

John Witte (Contact Author)

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