Are There Any Conflicts of Rights?
This paper argues that a putative conflict between negative rights (to non-interference) and positive rights (to socio-economics goods) is not a genuine conflict. The thought that they might conflict presupposes, I argue, that the two rights are valid. This is the first assumption of my argument. The second is that general rights impose duties on everyone, not just the party who faces a conflict of correlative duties. These two assumptions yield the conclusion that positive rights impose enforceable duties on the holder of the negative right; no right is thus infringed if this duty is enforced so no conflict occurs. If this is correct, it means that we can include welfare or socio-economic rights in a set of general rights without generating conflicts with negative rights to non-interference; this might clear some space for arguments that favour egalitarian redistribution although it does not show that general positive rights do exist.
KeywordsConflicts of rights Positive rights Non-interference Redistribution Enforceable duties
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