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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2016 x
Artikel

Access_open The Justification of Basic Rights

A Discourse-Theoretical Approach

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden Basic rights, Right to justification, Discourse theory, Non-domination, Kant
Auteurs Rainer Forst
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In this paper, I suggest a discourse theory of basic legal rights that is superior to rival approaches, such as a will-based or an interest-based theory of rights. Basic rights are reciprocally and generally justifiable and binding claims on others (agents or institutions) that they should do (or refrain from doing) certain things determined by the content of these rights. We call these rights basic because they define the status of persons as full members of a normative order in such a way that they provide protection from severe forms of legal, political and social domination. The very ground of these rights is the status of persons as free and equal normative authorities within the order they are subject to. In other words, these rights are grounded in a fundamental moral right to justification.


Rainer Forst
Rainer Forst is professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.
Artikel

Access_open The Justification of Basic Rights

A Response to Forst

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden Basic rights, Justification, Kant
Auteurs Glen Newey
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This paper responds to Rainer Forst’s article ‘The Justification of Basic Rights’. I argue that Forst's main thesis is difficult to pin down, partly because it is formulated in significantly distinct ways at numerous points. I offer a possible formulation of the argument but note that this encapsulates a fallacy; I further argue that his inference of the basic rights seems to imply an over-moralisation of social life and that his argument does not distinguish rights with discretionary and non-discretionary content. Then I query Forst’s claim that a right to justification is a condition of engaging in justificatory discourse. This leads to the conclusion that what goes into the process of justification, including who figures in the discursive community, are irreducibly political questions, whose answers cannot be convincingly specified antecedently by a form of moral legislation. I argue that actual discursive processes allow for considerably more contingency and contextual variability than Forst’s construction acknowledges. This extends, as I suggest in conclusion, to the idea that content can be specified via the Kantian notion that acceptability requires the ‘containment’ of an actor's ends by another, such as an affected party.


Glen Newey
Glen Newey is professor of Political Philosophy and Ethics at Leiden University.
Artikel

Access_open What Does it Mean to Justify Basic Rights?

Reply to Düwell, Newey, Rummens and Valentini

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 3 2016
Auteurs Rainer Forst
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In this paper, I reply to the four comments on my paper ‘The Justification of Basic Rights: A Discourse-Theoretical Approach’ given by Laura Valentini, Marcus Düwell, Stefan Rummens and Glen Newey.


Rainer Forst
Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy at the Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main.
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