One of the central questions in political theory deals with the nature of rights. What sorts of rights do people possess? How are these rights justified? How ought these rights be reflected and related when seen in political, economic, and social institutions? Following the publication of John Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971) and Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), rights have once again returned to dominate much of contemporary political theory. However, natural law, which was the historical basis of the early Enlightenment theories of rights, is no longer the primary system appealed to when discussing rights. In fact, classical natural law has been all but discarded in most of political theory today. There has also been renewed debate over the nature of public neutrality, and what the relationship ought to be between the public and private sphere. The mainstream view of how our liberties relate to our rights, as well as what kinds of rights we have over our private affairs, has come under fire from a newly emerging political philosophy known as communitarianism. This thesis will present a robust theory of rights that provides a new understanding of the relationship between positive and negative rights through a defense of classical natural law as an ethical foundation for political theory. It will side with the communitarian critics of public neutrality, and offer a practical method of determining when the state is justified in limiting private liberties due to public interest.
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Kiel, Dwight C.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Lopez, Ramon E., "On rights a defense and analysis of rights through natural law" (2011). HIM 1990-2015. 1151.