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By Rex Martin

The justification of political authority is a long-standing factor of political philosophy, one that over and over defies answer. This ebook offers an unique justification by way of developing a framework for facing this challenge. The version that emerges is one during which yes varieties of political rights are emphasised. Martin discusses the consequences of this sort of approach for democratic associations, political allegiance, punishment, and finally for the character of political authority.

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Example text

Why should things be clear even to this extent, when so much else was indeterminate? I suppose, then, that we can tell something about the character of rights from this relatively uncluttered story and that, whatever this character is, it is independent of the many things we do not know from the story. What we might gather here, in particular, is the character rights would have regardless of whether they were customary or legal or moral in nature. One conclusion we could draw from the story, once we assume that the way of acting in question is indeed a right, is that rights are fairly determinate things.

The idea that all rights attach to certain directives for the conduct of others is weaker than the claim that they are necessarily linked to specific duties, but it is, I believe, a sounder and more defensible notion. 32 The Concept of Rights There is, however, a serious problem in holding even this weaker thesis, that all rights involve normative direction of persons other than the rightholder. For it seems to run up against the authority of Hobbes, one of the founders and still a presiding genius of rights theory.

4 In any event, my concern here is not with cases in which rights might be doubtful but with those in which they are not in serious dispute. For we are trying to conceive what rights are. To do this we must try to envision the successful cases. And I am particularly concerned, for now at least, to avoid cases where rights conflict (where the fence maker had, for example, asserted a competing right). For, in order to contemplate this interesting possibility, we would first have to assume that the way of acting being infringed was indeed a right and thus we would necessarily presuppose a simpler case in which that way of acting was a right whether or not the thing infringing it was also said to be one.

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