Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Writing Rights

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Writing Rights

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE : "Rights, Words, and Laws" by Amartya Sen, in The New Republic, Oct. 28, 2010.

WHAT ARE RIGHTS AND WHERE do they come from? Behind the word "rights" are two distinct concepts: a moral and political call to action in the absence of a legal right (i.e., a right to fight for suffrage where none exists) and a right created by law, such as the right to vote. The two ideas are certainly related, but the line from natural rights to legal ones may not be at all direct, observes Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen.

Public recognition of a right often leads to legal recognition, but laws are not the only avenue for establishing rights. Organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross help advance the cause of human rights (such as a fight to health care) simply by doing their work. And there are certain cases in which rights can be better established through social criticism and public debate than by statute. For example, law is not the best way to protect a woman's fight to have a voice in family decisions.

Within the legal sphere of rights, laws do not necessarily need to be changed in order for new rights to be legally recognized. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.