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

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Basic Books, Nov 2, 2004 - Law - 261 pages
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This is a wholly new and compelling answer to one of the most persistent dilemmas in both law and moral philosophy: If rights are "natural"-if, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, it is "self-evident that all men are endowed...with certain inalienable rights"-where do these rights come from? Does natural law really exist outside the formal structure of humanly enacted law? On the other hand, if rights are nothing more than the product of human law, what argument is there for allowing the "rights" of a few people to outweigh the preferences of the majority?In this book, renowned legal scholar Alan Dershowitz offers a fresh resolution to this age-old dilemma: Rights, he argues, do not come from God, nature, logic, or law alone. They arise out of particular experiences with injustice. While justice is an elusive concept, hard to define and subject to conflicting interpretations, injustice is immediate, intuitive, widely agreed upon and very tangible.This is a timely book that will have an immediate impact on our political dialogue, from the intersection of religion and law to recent quandaries surrounding the right to privacy, voting rights, and the right to marry. More than that, it is a passionate case for the recognition of human rights in a rigorously secular framework. Rights from Wrongs will be the first book to propose a theory of rights that emerges not from some theory of perfect justice but from its opposite: from the bottom up, from trial and error, and from our collective experience of injustice.

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User Review  - 2wonderY - LibraryThing

Dershowitz attempts to find human rights divorced from our founding fathers' understanding of divinely given rights as referenced in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. He ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Alan Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Known as a defense lawyer, he is also a litigator, columnist, lecturer, book reviewer, and prolific author. His recent books include Sexual McCarthyism, on the Starr investigation, and Reasonable Doubts, on the O. J. Simpson case. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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