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By Samuel Stoljar (auth.)

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Extra info for An Analysis of Rights

Sample text

But this sense, it is quickly seen, gives us little help in relation to rights, for it does not explain whether, or how, rights exist even if we do recognise the interest; the interest only reveals our motives for certain actions, including the reasons for our grievances or the reasons why we seek certain rights. To identify an interest, therefore, only tells half the story, the half in fact we already know, if only because, in this context, we can be supposed fully to know what we desire or want.

This brings us to another misconception, namely, that the old and canonical division between rights in personam and rights in rem has to do with two types of rights which, whatever their differences, are logically on a par. Rights in rem are not meant to create direct and personal relationships as do rights in personam; their purpose is to state claims or rights only against possible wrongs. Without rights in rem, moreover, we could not even formulate duties which are not purely personal or self-assumed, nor indicate general reciprocal obligations, 46 An Analysis of Rights all of a negative or abstaining kind, yet all of them creative of precisely those aggregate forbearances which alone offer the opportunities for an individual to have or enjoy personal or possessory immunities.

Furthermore, C's position is not quite so rightless as presented here. C, it is suggested, has the benefit but no right because it is only to B that A's promise is due since B alone can waive the claim; thus it is B who is wronged but not harmed while, on the other hand, it is C who is harmed but not wronged. Consequently only the promisee (B) has a claim against A as B alone is in a position to waive or press the claim, and it is this, not B's benefit, that gives him the right. How strong is this as a moral argument?

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