Raz is trying to give an account of the nature of rights, that is, how the term “rights” is used in legal, political, and moral discourse.
He is not trying to show that rights are important. He’s not even trying to show that anyone or anything has rights. Rather, he’s just trying to be show what we are claiming when we say that someone has a right. We need to be clear about that in order to know what it is that we’re defending or attacking when we’re defending or attacking human rights.
§1 Main claims to be defended.
- Definition of “x has a right.”
- A related principle about what sorts of things can have rights (the capacity for rights).
§2 Distinction between core and derivative rights.
- The function of this distinction is to rebut apparent counter-examples; cases that do not seem to fit the definition but in which it’s natural to say “x has a right.”
- There is also a discussion of the logical relationship between core and derivative rights: it’s one of justification and not logical entailment. Core rights justify derivative rights; core rights also logically entail the derivative rights that they justify. Some derivative rights logically entail core rights too, but no derivative rights justify any core rights.
§3 Correlativity of rights and obligations
- Contrast between a linguistic thesis about the correlativity of rights and obligations and a thesis about how rights ground obligations.
§4 Holding individuals to be under a duty
- Discussion of two ways that rights could ground duties.
§5 Promises and agreements
- First, these are used to illustrate the distinction in §4.
- Second, an apparent counter-example is discussed: there seem to be some cases in which a person might have a right to have a promise fulfilled even though it would not serve his interests.
§6 Capacity for rights
- The condition: only those things that have ultimate, non-derivative value or artificial persons have rights. This answers an apparent counter-examples concerning plants.
- Is having moral duties a necessary condition of having rights (the reciprocity thesis)? Perhaps, but nothing in Raz’s argument turns on the truth or falsity of this thesis.
- Qualification: ultimate value isn’t the same as intrinsic value. Illustration: story about the man and his dog. The dog is intrinsically valuable by virtue of being an essential part of an intrinsically valuable relationship. But the story about the relationship only shows that the dog has derived value, not ultimate value (NB: the dog may have ultimate value for other reasons).
- Clarification: the claim is that the being that has rights has ultimate value, not that the interests protected by rights have ultimate value.
§7 Rights and interests
- The role of rights in practical thinking: grounding duties in the interests of others. (Not the claim that rights are the only way to do that).
- Rights are an intermediate stage between practical requirements (i.e. duties or obligations) and ultimate values. This is useful in a society where there’s disagreement about ultimate values.
- Who bears duties for a given right depends on the nature of the interest being protected.
- What happens when conflicting considerations mean that others should not respect a putative right? Does that show the right doesn’t really exist?
§8 Rights and duties
- More on conflicts.
- We can know X has a right without knowing who has the corresponding duty: right to education.
- Old rights can give rise to new duties.
§9 The importance of rights
- Rights logically imply duties; duties don’t logically imply rights.
- Why Raz’s theory doesn’t rule out the possibility of a “right based” morality; it does show that it is very unlikely that morality is right-based, however.