Chapter

The Justification of Fundamental Rights

David Bilchitz

in Poverty and Fundamental Rights

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552160
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191709456 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552160.003.0003
 The Justification of Fundamental Rights

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This chapter considers how we can move from an account of the fundamental interests of sentient beings to an account of their having fundamental rights to have these interests protected. After considering the attempts by Gewirth and Nagel to bridge this theoretical gap, it is argued that the fundamental gap in their theories is the premise that each individual's life is to be treated as being of equal importance to that of every other individual. Reasons are provided for accepting that a society based upon law must treat the lives of each individual being with equal importance. An argument is then provided as to why equal importance must at least require that individuals be guaranteed the necessary preconditions for living lives of value to them. A society founded upon equal importance must consequently realise fundamental rights — both socio-economic and civil-political.

Keywords: interests; obligations; Gewirth; Nagel; individuals; equal importance; necessary preconditions; lives of value

Chapter.  14795 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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