Abstract and Keywords
One of the central goals of this article is to show what would be lost in a moral theory that failed to recognize claim-rights. Theories of moral rights are inherently theories about what the basic content of those legal rules should be: Their accounts have constitutional reference. A standard form of complaint against a legal rule is that it fails to advance or protect persons' moral rights—it fails to be just—whereas its failure to satisfy other moral requirements, for example, benevolence, is not commonly seen as being equally damning. By attending to the general characteristics of moral rights, one can learn something about the demands of justice—about how the legal realm must be in order to be just. These general characteristics inhabit different levels of generality and, not surprisingly, the contestedness of claims advanced at each such level varies inversely with the degree of generality it reflects.
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