Rights as Defences and Liberties

  • Samuel Stoljar


The concept of right, we already hinted, carries elements which allow for two quite distinct senses: one which interlocks with claims both to and against, and a second sense which also affirms one’s claim or right to act in a certain way, yet does so without asserting a duty on the other side or claim against. Such is a right of self-defence, or a right to criticise, or to divorce or separate, or to terminate a contract, or to give notice to a tenant, or the right to compete in trade, or the right to picket.1 We shall call these defensive rights, sometimes called liberties or liberty-rights, to distinguish them from rights with correlative duties or fully assertive rights.


Moral Claim Present Danger Justificatory Defence Correlative Duty Distinct Sens 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    See R. W. Downie, ‘The Right to Criticise’, Philosophy, 44 (1969) p. 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    D. D. Raphael, ‘Human Rights’, Aristotelian Society Supplement, 39 (1965) pp. 206–7; and see also his Problems of Political Philosophy (London, 1970) pp. 68–70.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See G. Marshall, ‘Rights, Options and Entitlements’, in A. W. B. Simpson (ed.) Oxford Essays in Jurisprudence (1973) pp. 228, 231–2.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Glanville Williams, ‘The Concept of Liberty’, in R. S. Summers (ed.) Essays in Legal Philosophy (Oxford, 1968) pp. 121, 136ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© S. J. Stoljar 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Stoljar

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