The Public Interest

Rediscovering Rights

Thomas L. Pangle

Winter 1978

AFTER a long period during which academic legal and political theory was dominated by legal positivism and utilitarianism, we currently appear to be in the midst of a full-fledged revival of doctrines based upon the notion of individual rights. In recent years, both John Rawls and Robert Noziek have gained widespread public attention with theories of justice that emphasize the central importance of supra-legal rights. Now Ronald Dworkin, an American who is University Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford, has written a book called Taking Rights Seriously,* which attempts to show that the British and American legal systems can best be understood and defended in terms of the idea of “natural rights.”

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