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Authority and Interest in the Theory of Right


Authority and Interest in the Theory of Right

Nieswandt, Katharina (2017) Authority and Interest in the Theory of Right. In: Legal Norms, Moral Norms: New Essays on Metaethics and Jurisprudence. Oxford University Press. (In Press)

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Authority and Interest, 2016-12-15_FINAL DRAFT.pdf


I suggest a new role for authority and interest in the theory of right: Rights can be explicated as sets of prohibitions, permissions and commands, and they must be justified by interests.

I argue as follows: (1) The two dominant theories of right—“Will Theory” and “Interest Theory”—have certain standard problems. (2) These problems are systematic: Will Theory’s criterion of the ability to enforce a duty is either false or empty outside of its original legal context, whereas Interest Theory includes in the definition of a right what actually belongs to the justification of the practice within which that right is assigned. (3) I recast the connection between authority, interests and rights in a way that avoids each theory’s standard problem. (4) The resulting theory also has three further advantages: It analyzes rights in terms of very basic and familiar concepts; it mirrors the understanding of rights in actual public discourse, and it is compatible with a wide selection of moral theories. Since its core is about a specific use of modal auxiliary verbs, I call this new theory the “Modal Theory of Right.”

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Book Section
Authors:Nieswandt, Katharina
ID Code:982122
Deposited On:20 Jan 2017 20:17
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:54
Additional Information:This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book Legal Norms, Moral Norms: New Essays on Metaethics and Jurisprudence edited by D. Plunkett, S. Shapiro & K. Toh due for publication in 2017. https://global.oup.com/academic/rights/permissions/autperm/?cc=gb&lang=en
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