Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual

ISBN : 9780198793366

Rowan Cruft
320 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2019
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Is it defensible to use the concept of a right?
Can we justify this concept's central place in modern moral and legal thinking, or does it unjustifiably side-line those who do not qualify as right-holders? Rowan Cruft brings together a new account of the concept of a right. Moving beyond the traditional 'interest theory' and 'will theory', he defends a distinctive role for the concept: it is appropriate to our thinking about fundamental moral duties springing from the good of the right-holder. This has important implications for the idea of 'natural' moral rights-that is, rights that exist independently of anyone's recognising that they do. Cruft argues that only rights that exist primarily for the sake of the right-holder can qualify as natural in this sense. In its relation to property, however, matters are far more complicated because much property is groundable only by common or collective goods beyond the right-holder's own good. For such property, Cruft argues that a non-rights property system-that resembles modern markets but is not conceived in terms of rights-would be preferable. The result of this study is a partial vindication of the rights concept that is more supportive of human rights than many of their critics (from left or right) might expect, and is surprisingly doubtful about property as an individual right.


1 Introduction
Part I: Rights as Addressive Duties
2 Rights' Elusive Relation to Interests
3 Rights' Elusive Relation to Powers
4 Rights' Relation to the First and Second Person
5 Rights and Interests Revisited
6 From Directed Duties to Rights
Part II: Human Rights for the Right-Holder's Sake
7 Teleological Groundings of Rights and Duties
8 The Individual's Place in the Grounding of her Rights
9 The 'Human' in Human Rights and the Law
10 Human Rights as Everyone's Business
Part III: Property Rights for the Common Good
11 Introducing Property Rights
12 Modest Property Rights for the Right-Holder's Sake
13 Property Rights for the Common Good
14 Rights Protecting Performance of Duties
15 Conclusion: A Partial Vindication of Rights

About the author: 

Rowan Cruft is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stirling. His work focuses on the nature and moral foundation of rights and duties. He is the co-editor of Crime, Punishment, and Responsibility (Oxford 2011) and of Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (Oxford 2015). His research examines the nature and justification of rights and duties, and their role in shaping a democratic public sphere.

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