Rights from Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights

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Basic Books, Apr 20, 2009 - Law - 272 pages
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Where do our rights come from? Does "natural law" really exist outside of what is written in constitutions and legal statutes? If so, why are rights not the same everywhere and in all eras? On the other hand, if rights are nothing more than the product of human law, why should we ever allow them to override the popular will? In Rights from Wrongs, renowned legal scholar Alan Dershowitz puts forward a wholly new and compelling answer to this age-old dilemma: Rights, he argues, do not come from God, nature, logic, or law alone. They arise out of particular human experiences with injustice. Rights from Wrongs is the first book to propose a theory of rights that emerges not from a theory of perfect justice but from its opposite: from the bottom up, from trial and error, and from our collective experience of injustice. Human rights come from human wrongs. "[Dershowitz's] underlying theory is one that can be neutrally applied by people residing at all positions within the political spectrum.... Perhaps if his views were understood by more people, there would be both a toning down of the political rhetoric." -Tampa Tribune
 

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Contents

What Are Rights?
15
Is God the Source of Rights?
23
Is Nature the Source of Rights?
29
Are There Other External Sources of Rights?
39
Do Constitutional Democracies Really Need
49
Do We Need to Invent an External Source of Rights
59
Is Natural Law a Helpful or Harmful Fiction?
67
What Then Is the Source of Rights?
81
Can Experiential Rights Check the Abuses
155
Is There a Right to Life?
169
Is There a Right Not to be Censored by Government?
175
Is There a Right to Have Church and State Separated?
183
Do Animals Have Rights?
193
Do Dead People Have Rights in Their Organs?
201
The Future of Rights
213
Notes
233

Is There Always a Right Answer?
99
Does The Experiential Approach Confuse Philosophy
121
LiberalConservative Issue?
145

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