Protagonist and subject in Gewirth's argument for human rights

Chitty, Andrew (2008) Protagonist and subject in Gewirth's argument for human rights. King's Law Journal, 19 (1). pp. 1-26. ISSN 0961-5768

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This article assesses the argument by Alan Gewirth, which is foundational for the Sheffield School of legal idealism, that every agent is rationally committed to asserting that it and all other agents have rights to freedom and well-being. It is shown that the most salient objection to the argument misunderstands its nature. However the initial part of the argument, because of its prudential character, is valid only in virtue of the fact that its 'protagonist', the individual for whom the argument is supposed to be rationally compelling, is identical to its 'subject', the individual about whom the argument makes its successive statements. This fact prevents the argument from establishing its central claim, as that claim must be interpreted to ground the rest of the argument. Therefore the argument as a whole fails. Some implications of this finding for the Sheffield School approach are suggested.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Andrew Chitty
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:28
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2016 15:05
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