Res Publica

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 321–331

In Defence of the Will Theory of Rights



Nicholas Vrousalis has aimed to recast an old objection to the will theory of rights by focusing on Hillel Steiner’s version of that theory. He has argued that Will Theory must either be insensitive to the (values of the) lives of the unempowerable, or be incomplete, because it has no argumentative resources within its conceptual apparatus to ascribe or justify restrictions on the amount of discretion exercised by legal officials. I show that both charges are problematic. They rely on some of Steiner’s inferences which are simply unjustified because they are based on misinterpretations of the logic of Hohfeld’s terminology. The problem for Vrousalis is that his critique takes for granted some of these flawed arguments. The critique is also misdirected to the extent that it assumes that the problems with Steiner’s theory affect Will Theory in general.


Theories of rights Legal rights Moral rights Hillel Steiner Nicholas Vrousalis Hohfeld Analysis of rights 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesNazarbayev UniversityAstanaKazakhstan

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