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An Analysis of Rights by Samuel Stoljar (auth.)

By Samuel Stoljar (auth.)

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For only on the basis of such in rem rights can we make contracts or gifts, or acquire advantages or shares in property, thus acquire what lawyers sometimes describe as a 'legal interest' which, too, is an interest resulting from existing legal rights, not the rights from the interest. For another thing, rights after all are not meant to serve as prescriptions for bitter medicine, nor to tell us what is good or best for us prudentially. Rights, as we have said and shall argue again, are principally designed to give us firm claims against others, especially claims where the interests we have may be resisted by other individuals precisely because of their own interests.

But such radical prohibitions are in practice often impossible, so that we simply have to make do with a state of affairs in which injury will occur, but injury that can be remedied. Ubi jus ibi remedium is then another, if somewhat more indirect, way of saying that normative rights and duties are necessarily correlative. NON-CORRELATIVE DUTIES Yet it is still frequently asserted that rights and duties are not invariably correlated, that there can be rights without duties as well as duties without rights.

A duty, it is true, may not always be very efficacious in its protective effects; it is, nevertheless, the existence of such a duty that makes for the answerability of the claim, its answerability in principle. It goes without saying that the present claims do not refer to grievances for which nobody carries responsibility. If my grievance is that I am not a gifted painter or pianist, this is not something anybody can help. Nor are we speaking about a right to feel pleased, and so on, for these are merely customary forms of vindicating a self-congratulatory attitude where I might otherwise be vulnerable to a charge of conceit or vanity.

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