By C.P. Wellman
An method of Rights comprises fifteen formerly released yet normally inaccessible papers that jointly express the advance of 1 of the extra vital modern theories of the character, grounds and functional implications of rights. In a protracted retrospective essay, Carl Wellman explains what he was once attempting to accomplish in every one paper, how a long way he believes that he succeeded and the place he failed. hence the writer offers a serious viewpoint either on his personal conception and on substitute theories from which he borrows, or that he rejects. those essays establish the issues any enough thought of rights needs to resolve, describe the extra believable recommendations and weigh the advantages of every. they are going to be of distinctive curiosity to any reader concerned about criminal conception, ethical philosophy or any department of utilized ethics or social coverage during which appeals to rights are often made yet seldom rationally satisfactory.
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Extra resources for An Approach to Rights: Studies in the Philosophy of Law and Morals
My goal was to advance my general theory of rights by adding to our theoretical understanding of the nature and value of real rights. First, I described four functions of constitutional rights in politics. They contribute to the framework for politics, they protect individuals from political abuses, they distance certain issues from ordinary politics, and they serve as instruments in political action. What I did not make explicit is that my functional conception of rights as allocating dominion is ideally suited to explain how constitutional rights perform these functions.
First, many basic legal rights recognize and protect fundamental moral rights. This is most obviously true in the case of constitutional rights such as the rights to due process or to free speech, but it is also true of such common-law rights as the right to self-defense or to the defense of others. It is a mistake, I believe, to imagine that in such cases there is one right that is both a moral and a legal right, for the definition of the SEEKING A THEORY OF RIGHTS 41 legal right may not coincide with that of the analogous moral right.
Second, I described three functions that politics serves regarding constitutional rights. It establishes, modifies or abolishes constitutional rights; it guides the courts in interpreting those rights; and it also influences their application to particular cases. These facts about legal systems raise important questions about the value of basic legal rights. Does their special value lie in promoting the general welfare or in protecting the human and civic rights of the individual citizens? I suggest that they do and ought to serve both values.