By William A. Edmundson

This obtainable advent to the historical past, good judgment, ethical implications, and political trends of the concept that of rights is geared up chronologically. masking such vital occasions because the French Revolution, it's well-suited as an introductory-level, undergraduate textual content in such classes as political philosophy, ethical philosophy, and ethics. the amount can be utilized in classes on political concept in departments of political technological know-how and executive, and in classes on felony conception in legislations faculties.

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Additional resources for An Introduction to Rights (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy and Law)

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Two Expansionary Periods of Rights Rhetoric If we were to draw a time line running from left to right, representing the prevalence of rights rhetoric across history, we should show two periods of time during which “rights talk” was so prevalent that its very prevalence became a matter of comment and criticism. For convenience, I will refer to these as “expansionary periods,” without meaning to imply thereby that any sort of deflationary reaction was or is justified. I simply want to call attention to the peculiarity that rights rhetoric, as a historical fact, has had its ups and downs and, looked at in schematic profile, resembles a Bactrian camel – it has two humps.

This difference reflects a further, underlying difference between laws “which conduce to the mere existence of society” – that create perfect, exact, and enforceable rights – and those that conduce merely “to an improved existence” (1672, 118). Whereas Grotius found humans to be sociable by nature, Pufendorf, like Hobbes, took a darker view. ” This conclusion furnished a basis for what he called the “fundamental natural law: every man ought to do as much as he can to cultivate and preserve sociality .

This is particularly so because positions on matters of distributive justice and economic equality are now routinely debated in terms of rights rather than (mere) aspirations. ” When aspirations are expressed as entitlements the chances are greater that delivery will be demanded. The second difference between the two expansionary periods is a difference in the underlying intellectual and cultural background of rights. Moral skepticism and nihilism are today eminently thinkable alternatives to moral theories of any sort.

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