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On Rights and Responsibilities

John Deigh
Law and Philosophy
Vol. 7, No. 2 (Aug., 1988), pp. 147-178
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3504727
Page Count: 32
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On Rights and Responsibilities
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Abstract

Rights are commonly linked to responsibilities. One commonly hears remarks about the rights and responsibilities of teachers, parents, students, etc. This linking together of the two is the topic of this paper. The paper is divided into four sections. In the first section I distinguish three accounts of the relation between rights and responsibilities any of which we could have in mind when linking the two together, and I single out the third account for further study. Unlike the other two, it seems to offer fresh material for the theory of rights. In the second section I develop this material. I explicate the general relation between rights and responsibilities as this third account represents it, and I specify the grounds for attributing such a relation to them. My aim here is to elucidate a conception of rights that certain legal and political rights can be taken to exemplify and that has been ignored or obscured in recent work in the theory of rights. In the last two sections I turn my attention to human rights. I argue in Section III that Locke's theory of natural rights can be interpreted as upholding the conception of rights elucidated in the preceding section, and I consider and criticize in Section IV an account of the relation between certain human rights and responsibilities that comes from Joel Feinberg's distinction between mandatory and discretionary rights. The arguments of these two sections are meant to strengthen the case for making room in the theory of rights for the conception elucidated in Section II.

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