A System of Rights

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Oxford University Press, 1993 - Law - 439 pages
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The justification of political authority is one of the long-standing issues of political philosophy, and one which persistently defies satisfactory solution. This book sets out to provide an original justification by establishing a background framework for dealing with the problem. Rex Martin begins by identifying the main elements of authority, arguing that they need to be linked in order to create a political authority that can be described as justified. He then sketches a framework - a sample system of political institutions and conceptions which is internally coherent - to link these elements. The rest of the book fills in this outline. Professor Martin argues that rights are established patterns of acting or of being treated and are hence essentially institutional in character. The institutions that tend to be the most supportive, and productive, of individual rights are, he believes, democratic, and the central section of the book is devoted to the connection of rights with majority rule democratic political institutions and conceptions. From this nexus secondary lines of connection are traced to political obligation (or allegiance) and to an eligible justification for using punishment to enforce the rights of individuals. Thus Professor Martin's analysis forms a distinctive and systematic approach to one particular state of government. This rethinking of some of the main topics of political theory is long overdue; it yields some striking conclusions about both the nature of rights and the nature of political authority itself.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 On the Logic of Justifying Political Authority
5
2 The Concept of Rights
24
3 Rights as Valid Claims
51
4 Human Rights
73
5 Civil Rights
98
6 Democratic Institutions
127
7 Democracy and Rights
152
10 Modes of Punishment
251
11 The Right of Inmates to Work
280
12 A System of Rights
303
13 Critical Justification
323
Notes to Chapters
340
Addendum to Chapter 7
413
Select Bibliography
417
Index
433

8 Allegiance and the Place of Civil Disobedience
185
The Problem of Punishment
218

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About the author (1993)

Rex Martin is Professor of Philosophy, University of Kansas, and Professor of Political Theory and Government, University of Wales, Swansea.

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