Correlativity thesis

Slavery is the antithesis of freedom. It was the antithesis of everything I hold dear about this country.

Correlativity thesis

In this sense, human beings have been described as having rights to property, "to life, liberty, and the pursuit happiness" United States Declaration of Independence, as "free and equal in rights" Declaration Correlativity thesis the Rights of Man and Citizen, and as having rights "to share in scientific advancement and its benefits" Universal Declaration of Human Rights, More recently civil rights or liberties to freedom of speech and assembly have been complemented by proposals for social, economic, and welfare rights to minimum levels of shelter, food, and medical care.

What was initially a quite limited relation of rights to science and technology, insofar as their advancement rested on the protection of intellectual property rights, has become increasingly a Correlativity thesis of consumer rights to certain levels of material benefit and safety related especially to technology.

The assessment of such diverse claims nevertheless requires appreciation of the broader philosophical discussion of rights and various analytic distinctions introduced to clarify numerous complications. Fundamental Distinctions As initial observations have already indicated, the notion of rights has become deeply embedded in modern societies, but it has critics precisely because of its origin in particular socio-cultural contexts and because of its relationship to individualism.

While this statement arguably overlooks the fact that it is not only individuals but also groups that may be held to have rights, as seen in debates about rights of particular minorities, it soon becomes clear that this does not avoid questions of individual rights: Some of the most difficult issues with group rights concern relationships of the individual to the group.

The classic and most systematic attempt to delineate different kinds of rights was that of Wesley Hohfeldwho identified a number of distinct categories. Some of the ways in which the term rights would be used, he argued, would be more accurately captured Correlativity thesis the term privileges.

TRINPsite: Book of Instruments: The Correlativity of Rights and Duties

These are to be contrasted with rights "in a strict sense," which Hohfeld categorized as claim-rights. This is the thesis of correlativity of rights and duties: A claim can normally be met only through the efforts, or at least the non-interference, of others.

This thesis has come to be regarded as definitive of rights. To say that X has a privilege, however, has no such implication. A privilege is a liberty to do something, which may be either of a general or a special kind.

In the general sense a privilege to act in a certain way is simply the absence of a duty to avoid doing it. No one is in a position to make a counter-claim against the person. In the special sense, however, a privilege is a liberty that is exceptional, that is, it is not enjoyed by other persons—for example, informed consent on the part of patients allows health care professionals certain liberties to do things to them which may be invasive, which would not be permissible in other circumstances.

Hohfeld also distinguished claim-rights from other terms such as powers and immunities. Questioning Correlativity The thesis of the correlativity of rights and duties is problematic.

First, different aspects of correlativity have been distinguished: The moral correlativity thesis states that in order to have rights individuals must have and accept duties themselves.

This is controversial because it would rule out the rights of persons with mental incapacity. Some would argue that all human beings have rights, pre- as well as postnatally, even if it is not possible to hold them to be subject to duties.

For example, if X has a right to something, while it may not be the case that there is any person Y in particular who has a duty to do anything to help X to get that something, it may yet be appropriate to say that everyone has a duty not to prevent X from getting it. More generally, however, the question has to be asked whether the correlativity thesis is true of all rights.

The term rights has certain uses in political discourse, which go beyond claim-rights. This is described as the rhetorical or "manifesto" use. Such "rights" arguably do not imply duties on the part of anyone in particular. Furthermore, even where rights imply duties, it does not appear to be the case that the converse applies: That where there are duties there are always corresponding rights.

If one accepts that X has a right to the fulfilment of a promise, there must be someone who has a duty to fulfil it, and if Y has a duty to fulfil a promise, there must presumably be someone who has a right to have that duty fulfilled.

Promising involves correlativity of this kind. Other duties, however, such as those involved in scientific inquiry, for example, are not of this type. Claim Elements If one accepts that in addition to claim-rights in the strict sense there are also wider uses of the term, it is still possible nevertheless to regard rights as including a claim element.


In order for a claim to be a right, however, it must be justified. The two elements, a claim and a justification, are common to both Hohfeldian claim-rights and manifesto rights.

Different moral theories will attempt to justify rights in different ways, however, and it is the type of justification to which appeal is made that categorizes a right as of one sort or another. In the case of a claim-right to the fulfilment of a promise, that the promise was made, and thus a duty incurred, will form part of the justification.

Correlativity thesis

In the case of a manifesto right, however, the justification could be in terms of moral judgments about what should be the case, and may be based more on moral ideals of principles of justice than on duties. There are at least two further distinctions it is important to consider in thinking about the claim element of a right: The distinction between negative and positive rights depends on what they imply for others—either non-interference or positive action, respectively.

The right to freedom of scientific inquiry, for example, might be construed negatively as a freedom right not to be prevented from pursuing a particular line of research.the correlativity of rights and duties Do rights, indeed, always correlate with duties as many a theorist on rights suggests?

Some of those who hold that they do, have used this correlativity to identify rights: they are mere correlatives of duties.

As understood in political discussions and on the world stage, human rights rarely meet the strict standards of this correlativity thesis. Samuel Freiherr von Pufendorf (–) was almost as unknown during most of the 19th and 20th centuries as he had been familiar during the preceding hundred years and more.

–––, , “Pufendorf and the Correlativity Theory of Rights,” in ‘In so many words’: Philosophical Essays dedicated to Sven Danielsson on tbe.

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