Rights in Legal and Political Philosophy

Matthew H. Kramer

in The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199208425
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

 Rights in Legal and Political Philosophy

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Analytical questions about legal rights concern matters such as the fundamental characteristics of those rights, the relationships between those rights and other legal positions such as liberties and powers and duties, and the basic functions of those rights. Whereas the analytical questions concerning legal rights are squarely within the domain of legal philosophy, the normative questions belong at least as much to political philosophy as to jurisprudence. This article looks at some analytical matters relating to the fundamental features and functions of legal rights, as well as some normative debates relating to the suitable means by which the basic legal rights in a society are to be settled. It examines the views of the American jurist Wesley Hohfeld about legal rights and the controversy over the basic civil liberties and civil rights that are protected or conferred by so-called bills of rights in quite a few national constitutions.

Keywords: Wesley Hohfeld; legal rights; political philosophy; legal philosophy; civil liberties; civil rights; bill of rights

Article.  6702 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Politics and Law ; Political Theory

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