By Richard Dagger
Doubtless there is not any political debate which doesn't devolve into a controversy over rights. for hundreds of years a cornerstone of liberal thought, rights claims became so over-used as to blur circumstances of actual abuse. during this unique and provocative learn, Dagger argues for a republican liberalism that, whereas celebrating the liberal background of autonomy and rights, solidly areas those inside social family members and duties, which whereas ubiquitous, are usually obscured and forgotten.
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Additional resources for Civic Virtues: Rights, Citizenship, and Republican Liberalism
Rights and Equality Of the many arguments devised to justify the claim to human rights, the most persuasive, to my mind, is the one H. L. A. "5 If we have any moral rights at all, Hart contends, we must then have at least one natural right; otherwise the rights we acquire from promises, contracts, and laws would have no ground or foundation. These are all special rights, to use Hart's term, because they arise from special relationships between specific individuals—relationships in which one person, Jones, may confer on another person, Smith, the right to limit Jones's liberty in one way or another.
Indeed, these various circumstances will even affect the kinds of claims men and women put forward as rights. There is a sense, then, in which most of the specific rights we enjoy are social in character. All moral rights presuppose the right of autonomy— directly, if they are general rights, and indirectly, if they are special rights. But what counts as protecting or promoting autonomy cannot always be determined without reference to the particular circumstances of particular people. When we refer to these circumstances in order to decide whether a putative right passes the fourth test, we are acknowledging that the human right of autonomy may appear in different guises under different conditions.
N o other concept seems to capture so well the idea that every person, regardless of his or her place in society, is worthy of respect as a person. 31 With the field left to rights, it begins to seem, as Joel Feinberg puts it, that respect for persons . . may simply be respect for their rights, so there cannot be the one without the other; and what is called "human dignity" may simply be the recognizable capacity to assert claims. 32 Individual Rights and Republican Liberalism To think of a person as "a potential maker of claims" is to employ a richer conception of what it means to be a person than the phrase may initially suggest.