On Rights, Human Rights, and Property: A Response


Cruft R (2021) On Rights, Human Rights, and Property: A Response. Journal of Applied Philosophy.

This article responds to papers by Joseph Bowen, Simon May, Zofia Stemplowska, and Nick Sage, focused on my monograph, Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual (OUP, 2019). The book develops a new account of the nature of rights: as duties governed by ‘addressive’ norms of first- and second-personal thinking. This account has implications for both human rights and property rights. It implies that human rights in law should be founded on pre-legal moral rights grounded in how they serve the individual right-holder. And it implies that much property, which is morally grounded only as a system serving collective goods, would be beneficially reconceived in non-rights terms. The article defends the ‘addressive’ account of rights against Bowen’s and May’s arguments for the rival ‘Interest Theory’, and against May’s circularity charge. In response to Stemplowska (who builds on O’Neill), the article defends the place for pre-legal moral rights to goods and services as foundations for socioeconomic human rights. In response to Sage, the article defends the view that while human rights are morally grounded for the right-holder’s sake, most property rights constituting individual wealth in modern markets are not – and this throws doubt on such property’s status as a right.


Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal of Applied Philosophy

StatusIn Press
Publication date online30/09/2021
Date accepted by journal03/01/2021