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UNIT-6 Debates on Rights | STUDYSHIP MA NOTES

Hi students, welcome to #studyship . From this onwards ,I'm starting publishing notes MA (Political Science) Programme for the paper-1 #DebatesinPoliticalTheory of #delhiuniversity. These notes are not restricted to use for only DU students, if you feel the content is same for your paper. Feel free to use it. So let's explore🤩


Introduction: Debates surrounding rights form the bedrock of ethical, legal, and societal discourse. These debates encompass varied viewpoints, ranging from foundational moral principles to legal frameworks, offering nuanced perspectives on the nature, justifications, and conflicts inherent in human rights.

a. Moral vs. Legal Conceptions:

Key Points:

  • Moral Conceptions: Rooted in philosophical principles, asserting inherent, universal entitlements regardless of legal recognition.

  • Examples: Natural rights theory, grounding rights in fundamental human principles like dignity or autonomy.

  • Critiques: Subjectivity in defining moral rights, challenging enforceability without legal backing.

Legal Conceptions:

  • Basis: Derive rights from legal frameworks, acknowledging rights as recognized by laws, constitutions, or international treaties.

  • Examples: Legal positivism, tying rights to legal recognition, which may vary across jurisdictions.

  • Critiques: Limitation or oversight of inherent rights not legally codified; difficulties in universalizing standards across diverse legal systems.

b. Choice and Interest Theories

Choice Theories:

  • Emphasis: Focus on individual autonomy and freedom of choice as the foundation of rights.

  • Principles: Protects individuals' rational choices, often rooted in liberty, self-determination, and moral agency.

  • Debates: Critiques about societal constraints on genuine autonomy and potential conflicts between individual rights.

Interest Theories:

  • Emphasis: Prioritizes protecting essential interests or well-being over choice or autonomy.

  • Principles: Safeguards vital interests such as life, liberty, property, or societal well-being, considering collective interests.

  • Debates: Challenges in defining and prioritizing interests; subjectivity in determining fundamental interests.

c. Conflicts Between Rights

Nature of Conflicts:

  • Individual vs. Individual: Conflicts arise when one person's rights infringe upon another's (e.g., freedom of speech vs. right to privacy).

  • Individual vs. Group/Societal Rights: Instances where individual rights clash with collective or societal rights (e.g., cultural rights vs. gender equality).

Resolution Approaches:

  • Balancing Rights: Seeking compromises to minimize the infringement of rights for all parties.

  • Hierarchy of Rights: Prioritizing certain rights over others, giving precedence to the more crucial right in conflicts.

d. Rights as Trumps


  • Absolute Nature: Certain rights are perceived as absolute, overriding or superseding other considerations or interests.

  • Justifications: Protecting fundamental freedoms, asserting moral and ethical imperatives in preserving human dignity and autonomy.

Critiques and Challenges:

  • Balancing Considerations: Debates about balancing conflicting interests and potential neglect of nuanced resolutions in favor of absolutism.

  • Contextual Factors: Challenges concerning the implications of treating rights as absolute in various real-world contexts.

Conclusion: Rights debates encompass moral, legal, and societal dimensions, reflecting diverse viewpoints on the nature, justifications, and conflicts within human rights frameworks. Balancing individual autonomy, protecting vital interests, resolving conflicts, and considering rights as absolute entities constitute the ongoing discussions shaping legal frameworks, ethical considerations, and societal norms. Striking a balance between moral principles, legal recognition, resolving conflicts, and acknowledging contextual nuances is pivotal in crafting equitable, rights-respecting societies.

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