The Concept of Rights
In this chapter, we examine the idea of rights both historically and philosophically, and show how they have come to be defined in exclusivist, possessive and nearly absolutist terms and extended to most areas of human life. They are understood within the individualist framework, which in turn is based on a narrow and possessive view of the individual. Using Marx, one of its powerful critics, as a basis, we explore how rights, important as they are, could be defined differently. This involves reconceptualising individuals as socially embedded beings involved in a thick network of social relationships, seeing others not as rivals or enemies but as partners in a shared common life, and defining and exercising their rights in a non-exclusive, non-possessive and socially responsible manner.