Dworkin's Theory of Rights in the Age of Proportionality
(12) Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Forthcoming
17 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2017 Last revised: 4 Dec 2018
Date Written: June 5, 2017
There is probably no conceptualisation of rights more famous than Ronald Dworkin’s claim that they are ‘trumps’. This seems to stand in stark contrast to the dominant, proportionality-based strand of rights discourse, according to which rights, instead of trumping competing interests, ultimately have to be balanced against them. The goal of this article is to reconcile Dworkin’s work and proportionality and thereby make a contribution to our understanding of both. It offers a critical reconstruction of Dworkin’s theory of rights which does away with the misleading label of rights as ‘trumps’ and shows that, far from being in conflict with proportionality, properly understood Dworkin’s work supports and supplements that doctrine and provides a much-needed account of its moral foundation as being about human dignity, freedom, and equality.
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