By Rex Martin
The justification of political authority is a long-standing factor of political philosophy, one that many times defies answer. This publication presents an unique justification through constructing a framework for facing this challenge. The version that emerges is one during which convinced different types of political rights are emphasised. Martin discusses the consequences of this type of process for democratic associations, political allegiance, punishment, and finally for the character of political authority.
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Extra resources for A System of Rights
And this says something about what others do or can do. Thus, if person 1 has a right to life then person 2 is to do something: person 2 is to forbear killing person 1 and even, perhaps, to prevent that person's being killed by person 3. And none of this is something the rightholder does or can do. The crucial point I am making does not rest on a single example; others are at hand. The right not to be tortured, for instance, is fulfilled perhaps exclusively by what others do or can do. In short the way of acting is theirs, not the rightholder's.
Are there any natural rights? Do human rights exist? Are all the things listed in the UN's Universal Declaration (of 1948) truly rights? What are moral rights? Legal rights? Are basic moral rights compatible with utilitarianism? How are rights to be justified? What is the value of rights? Can infants have rights, can fetuses have them, or future generations, or animals? And so on. The existence of deep philosophical disagreement need not be an occasion for alarm or despair; it could, instead, point the way to a fruitful method of proceeding.
But my point is not simply about the setting of rights; I want, rather, to suggest that this factor of social recognition or ratification is actually a constituent of rights—that is, of our characterization of something as a right. 2 Now, the situation on the path is one that could actually happen. If it had happened, we would want the disputation about it to be similarly realistic. Thus, one of the considerations that would surely be evoked by practitioners of the challenged way of acting is a specification of the interest(s) at stake in the way of acting.
A System of Rights by Rex Martin