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By Richard Dagger

Likely there isn't any political debate which doesn't devolve into an issue over rights. for hundreds of years a cornerstone of liberal thought, rights claims became so over-used as to blur situations of actual abuse. during this unique and provocative learn, Dagger argues for a republican liberalism that, whereas celebrating the liberal history of autonomy and rights, solidly locations those inside of social kin and tasks, which whereas ubiquitous, are frequently obscured and forgotten.

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Additional info for Civic Virtues: Rights, Citizenship, and Republican Liberalism

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This may be granted, though, without granting that Hart's reasoning is completely persuasive. A critic, noting that Hart's "natural right" is an equal right to liberty, might go on to question whether this is indeed a right everyone possesses equally or whether some people possess it at all. Perhaps, the critic might say, some people have a right to liberty—masters, let us call them—while others, whom we shall call slaves, have only those special rights that the masters choose to confer on them.

For both, the danger of the natural-rights approach was its tendency to substitute abstract rhetoric for sensible, practical thinking. "19 Rights are conventional, not natural, in Bentham's view, and if we enjoy them at all, it is only because we are subject to a legal system, for to have a right is merely to be the beneficiary of a relationship sanctioned by law. Because there are no rights without law and government, law and government cannot possibly be justified by an appeal to rights. 20 For Burke, the French appeal to natural rights was dangerous not be- 20 Rights and Obligations cause it was nonsensical but because it was blind to circumstance and tradition.

If it will, then it ought to be regarded as a right, positive and general, that flows directly from the fundamental right of autonomy. 15 The stronger sense of "autonomy" as the ability to govern one's life seems to require positive rights of this sort. This point is illustrated by the claim that members of linguistic minorities often make to the right to speak a particular language. When these people—the Quebecois, say, or Latinos in the United States—lay claim to this right, they ask for more than protection against those who might wish to prevent them from speaking French or Spanish; they also ask for bilingual education and other forms of positive aid that will help them to sustain the use of their language.

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