The Notion of Rights
There are different types and levels of rights,
I have the right to go to the cinema
I have the right tohave children
I have the right to use my house
Some are moral
Others are legal
and some are the results of contracts
Can also be categoriarised in to who as them, eg, Animal rights, workers rights
Also be categoriarised in to what they are rights to, eg, Freedom of speech, Benefits
A right can be understood as an entitlement to preform, or refrain from certain actions/and or an entitlment that other people preform, or refrain from certain actions.
Privilege and Claims
Wesley Hohfeld provided a 4 fold analysis of the 'structure' of rights that is generally accepted
Privelege/ Liberty : I have privilege/liberty to do X if I have no duty not to do X
I have the right to go to the cinema as I have no duty not to go to the cinema
I have no right to steal because I have a duty not to steal.
Claim: I have a claim right that someone else does X in some cases in which they have a duty to me to do X
Calim rights can be negative - They require that other people dont interfere with me,
The right not to be killed
Claim rights can be positive - They require that other people do a specific action
The right to get paid if I am employed.
Every claim right entails a duty, not every duty entails a claim right
I may have a duty to give to charity but I have not violated anyones rights if I don't
Some duties are based on rights, but some are not
Liberties and claims are the core of most rights
Powers and Immunities
Many rights relate to being able to alter duties
Power: I have power when I have the authourity to alter my own or someone elses rights and duties
Judges have the right to set prision senteneces
Someone who is promised something has a right to enforce or waive the promise.
Immunitiy: I have an immunity when someone else does not have the power to change my rights and duties
I have the right to freedom of my religion, because no one has the right (power) to impose a particular religious practice on me
Many 'everyday' rights have a complex structure that involves all four of the aspects to a right
My property right to books gives me the Liberty to use them, a Claim that no one else uses them, the Power to waive that claim ( lend them to someone) and the Immunity from anyone else waive or transferring my right to my books.
My right is not absolute ht eduties and liberties are limited,
it does not give me the liberty to throw my books at other people, or give them permission to throw them
If i refuse to pay taxes, my books may be seized and auctioned of to cover my debt
To accept a system of rights is to accept a distribution of liberties and duties
Natural rights are rights people have simply in virtue of their nature
Rationality, autonomy or certain needs
They are moral rights and do not depend on be recognised by law
They are universal. not relative to a particular society or set of laws
Natural rights depend on their being universal objective morality.
Positive rights are rights recognised and established in a system of rules, usuallly the law.
If all rights are positive rights then rights only exsist when recognised
a right imposes duties. which must be recognised and enforced, Rights appeal for authorative recognition and legal enforcement
Problems with Postive and Negative rights
- To say that people have the rights before law bestows it
- Laws fail what ought to be
-Conflicts in laws, religious, state laws differe
- Where do natural rights come from
- Just because we want it to be a right, doesnt mean it is one
A law may violate someone's rights because it condradicts another law which has established those rights
In UK law is required to conform to Eauropean law on what rights we have
How are Rights Grounded
There are two distinct issues.
1) Function of rights
- do rights exist to protect an individuals choice and freedom?
- or to protect individuals interests more generally ?
2) What justfies rights
- are there deontological restrictions on how we treat individulas, based on individual worth or attributes ?
-Or doe they serve some further moral or political goal, such as happiness justice or equality
Many rights relate to freedom- freedom of theought, speach, movment, freedom from tourture, murder ect
we can argue that rights have the specific function of saying when freedom may or may not be limited.
To have a right is to have a choice - either a liberty right to do something or not, or, for a claim right, the power to waive anothers duty.
Rights protectt that area of negative freedom necessary for us to live our lives according to our conception of what is good.
Objection to choice
suggests that we can not ascribe rights to beings that do not make autonomous choices, so infants, animals and comatose patients do not have rights
if to have a right is to have a choice this limits rights even further.
Manypeople tink that certain rights like life or freedom are inalienable, you do not have the power to waive or trasfer it.
However, if rights are choices then no rights are inaliable
Rights do more than just protect freedom, they tend simultaneously to protect other interests, such as not being physically or mentally harmed.
If the funtion of rights it to protect individual interests, a person has right because that will make them better off in some way. freedom, shelter, food, health
Everyone including infants and animals has interests
There may also be inalienable rights, as some interests may be too important for a person exercise choice over.
not all interests generate a right
in my interest to be given money
1) The interest must be closely to connected too what we think it takes ot livean adequate human life
2) wemust want t protect against other considerations that might conflict with it, such as preferences
may not like what you're saying but my preferences do not provide good enough grounds of freedom of speach
3) we must be able to impose and enforce duties to protect it
Justifiation of Rights - Appeal to individual attr
We can argue that we re morally requireed to assign and respect rights because of something about individuals.
Locke argues that people have natural rights bestowed by God
Another argues that to have rights is to be part of a moral community that agrees to live by certain rules.
Kant says that indivduals are 'ends-in0themselves' he argues that autonomous choice is the basis of morality itself. It is also the source of all values, everything else has value ony because it is adopted as an end by someone. So we cannot weigh treating people as ends -in-themselves against anyother end, as no otherend has as much value. To ascribe rights recognises individuals as 'ends -in-themselfs' it respects their autoomy.We don't ascrive rights to someone because it is in their interest but because it recognises what they are.
Objection our rights arr dhped by many conditions that seem to relate not to ourselfs but to other people and social goals
Justification of Rights- Appeal to moral or politi
Rights are justified by their role in securing some moral or political good.
Mill argued that we could derive a theory of rights from untilitarianism
rights are productive of happiness as a goal
rights Markx thinks allow illusion of equality and individual concernes ignoring social elements