The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law

By Randy E. Barnett | Go to book overview

FOUR
The Liberal Conception of Justice

WHEN liberties are naked, a person may be free to do as he wishes, but others are similarly free to interfere with his actions. As Hillel Steiner has observed: "Like other naked things, unvested liberties are exposed to the numbing effects of cold fronts: in the case of liberties, to the obstructive impact of others' exercise of their powers and liberties."1 Liberty (capital "L") requires the protection of liberties (small "l"),2 but given that the world is one of subjective scarcity, not all liberties or freedom can be protected, however nice that would be. Rights are concepts that define a domain within which persons ought to be at liberty or free to do as they please free of interference by others.3 In this sense "No one ever has a right to do something; he only has a right that some one else shall do (or refrain from doing) something. In other words, every right in the strict sense relates to the conduct of another."4

The liberal conception of justice is the respect of rights.5 Some rights are natural in so far as the domains they define are prerequisites for the pursuit of

____________________
1
See Steiner, Essay on Rights, p. 87. Adopting H. L. A. Hart's refinement of the Benthamite distinction between naked and vested liberties, Steiner defines a "vested liberty [as] one surrounded by a 'protective perimeter' formed by others' duties which, though not specifically correlative to any right in the liberty-holder to exercise that liberty, nonetheless effectively prohibit their interference." Ibid. 75.
2
Because of the confusion that may arise from distinguishing Liberty from liberties, classical liberals sometimes distinguish between Liberty (meaning those liberties that are protected) and Freedom (meaning all liberties whether protected or not). See e.g., ibid. 60 n. 4: "Liberty in this normative or evaluative or rule-constituted sense, is to be distinguished from the descriptive or empirical concept--absence of prevention--which . . . I shall henceforth refer to as 'freedom' where confusion between the two might otherwise occur." I shall do the same.
3
See ibid. 76: "A vested liberty is internal to a person's rights--contained by them because protected by their correlative duties--while a naked liberty is interstitial to respective persons' rights, suspended in whatever action-space is left between them. Vested liberties exist in one-man's land; naked liberties inhabit no-man's land."
4
Glanville Williams, "The Concept of Legal Liberty," in Robert Summers (ed.), Essays in Legal Philosophy ( Oxford: Blackwell, 1970), p. 139.
5
See Steiner, Essay on Rights, p. 109: "[M]oral reasoning is reasoning about moral actions. And moral actions are ones directed towards our various ends which we believe should be pursued and sustained by everyone and ought not to be obstructed or abolished by anyone. One such end may be justice: the requirement that moral rights be respected."

-63-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 356

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.