Book Review: Rex Martin, a System of Rights (1993)

THEORIA, Vol. 61, No. 1, pp. 80-94, 1995

10 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2006


Rex Martin explains in the introductory chapter that this is a philosophical book on rights, dealing with their nature, justification, and systematic connection with other political concepts. This, of course, is true; but it is equally true to say that the overarching theme of the book is the justification of political authority. For the reason Martin offers an analysis of the concept of a right and of its connection with other political concepts, such as democratic institutions', the right to issue rules', allegiance', and the practice of punishment', is that he aims at an internal justification of political authority, that is, a justification grounded in a certain background system of political concepts and institutions. Martin's approach is decidedly holistic, or, perhaps, systematic, in that he continually stresses the systematic connections between the key concepts he discusses. As he sees it, the notion of a justified political authority is a systematic one, and the logic of its justification involves establishing systematic connections between [its] . . . elements. In this review, I discuss Martin's efforts to provide an internal justification of political authority, and his contention that rights are accredited ways of acting.

Keywords: Rights, democracy, political authority, internal justification

Suggested Citation

Spaak, Torben, Book Review: Rex Martin, a System of Rights (1993). Available at SSRN:

Torben Spaak (Contact Author)

Stockholm University ( email )

S-106 91 Stockholm
46 8 16 45 89 (Phone)
46 8 612 41 09 (Fax)

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