Res Publica

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 369-376

First online:

The Logical Foundation of Fundamental Rights and their Universality

  • Luca BaccelliAffiliated withScuola di Giurisprudenza, Università di Camerino Email author 

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This paper offers a critical analysis of two central issues in Luigi Ferrajoli’s Principia iuris, and more generally of his theory of rights. One is the way in which ‘expectations’ play a crucial role in his deontic theory by establishing the logical basis for his guarantee-based conception of law and rights. The axiomatic way in which Ferrajoli arrives at his conception of fundamental rights is questioned, for it fails to give a full account of the nature of subjective rights. The other issues discussed here is Ferrajoli’s own defence of the universality of fundamental rights, and how this is made to depend on a ‘normative technique’ that one can associate with legal discourse and modern law in Western societies. This, however, poses the problem of how this formal universalism can be reconciled with the intercultural dialogue that Ferrajoli also advocates.


Human rights Fundamental and patrimonial rights Axiomatic method Deontic logic Expectations and guarantees Intercultural dialogue