State-of-the-Art: The Theories of Rights Debate

39 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2018 Last revised: 6 Mar 2018

David Frydrych

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 13, 2018


This is the first comprehensive explanation and survey of the Interest-Will theories of rights debate. It elucidates the traditional understanding of it as a dispute over how best to explain A RIGHT and clarifies the theories’ competing criteria for that concept. The rest of the article then shows why recent developments are either problematic or simply fail to actually advance the debate. First, it is erroneous, as some theorists have done, to frame the entire debate in terms of competing explanations of the direction of ‘directed’ duties. This is because the theories’ respective answers to that issue are themselves dependent upon their respective conceptions of A RIGHT – ones that do not even necessitate the identification of different directions for such duties. Second, all of the new would-be alternative or hybrid theories are shown to merely be versions of the Interest theory. Third, recent efforts to cabin off the debate to ‘normative’ theorisation (i.e., to morally or politically evaluative accounts) are misguided.

Keywords: Will Theory, Interest Theory, Theories of rights, rights, jurisprudence, legal philosophy

Suggested Citation

Frydrych, David, State-of-the-Art: The Theories of Rights Debate (February 13, 2018). Available at SSRN:

David Frydrych (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776

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