Human Rights and Their Enforcement

John Finnis

in Human Rights and Common Good

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199580071
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729393 | DOI:
Human Rights and Their Enforcement

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The Maccabaean Lecture in Jurisprudence for 1985, this chapter is in part a response to Ronald Dworkin's Maccabaean Lecture for 1977, and to Patrick Devlin's famous Maccabaean Lecture for 1959. It critiques Dworkin's claims about equality of concern and respect, about the role of utilitarianism in political theory and practice, and above all about enforcing ‘majority opinion’ as such. It also critiques Devlin's claim that it is right to enforce a community's morality just because it is strongly adhered to. The chapter's main theoretical move is its discussion of the failure by both Dworkin and Devlin to consider moral opinions as they are understood by those who hold them: a neglect of ‘transparency’ and of the logical problems of ‘collectivity’. Other sections discuss the roles of legislature and judiciary, the history of the European Convention on Human Rights and its judicial interpretation, and the limits of specifically legal learning. Endnotes critique some very recent cases.

Keywords: Dworkin; Devlin; equality; utilitarianism; community morality; transparency; collectivity; European Convention on Human Rights; judicial interpretation

Chapter.  13937 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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