Rights, Theories of

In general, the term right is used to describe a person's entitlement. For example, people claiming an entitlement to say what they think express a right of freedom of speech.

In modern-day societies, it appears that claims to entitlements are proliferating; matters as diverse as liberty, abortion, health care, privacy, human welfare, euthanasia, capital punishment, and suicide are all steeped in claims to certain rights. Indeed, the term rights is used extensively in relation to a vast array of contentious matters; debates concerning politics, morality, justice, and fairness are especially peppered with claims to rights. The notion of rights is now also commonly used in relation to claims concerning inanimate objects, plants, and nonhuman animals. It becomes important therefore to consider exactly what we mean by ...

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