Rights, Responsibilities, and Roles: A Comment on Waldron
12 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2011 Last revised: 8 Jan 2012
Date Written: September 7, 2011
In his Edward J. Schoen Leading Scholar Lecture, "Dignity, Rights, and Responsibilities," Jeremy Waldron raises important issues regarding the connections between rights and responsibilities and rights and dignity. In this brief comment, I focus on the first set of connections - Waldron’s claim that "some rights actually are responsibilities" - examining in particular, the analytical claim he offers regarding a certain subset of rights. The paper ultimately concludes that Waldron’s argument that there is a type of right that is equivalent to a responsibility remains a provocative but not (yet) fully persuasive idea. Likely examples, like those involving a parent and the care and upbringing of a child, seem more like the combination of right and duty that is found in offices and roles, rather than being best understood as a distinctive form of legal or moral right.
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