San Diego Law Review


Horacio Spector

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In Part II, I will indicate how the Will Theory and the Interest Theory each capture distinct features of the usage of right in contemporary moral and legal discourse. However, I will also argue that neither of the two theories is successful in explaining all the properties of rights. In Part III, I will argue that the debate between the two theories is irresolvable because the Will Theory and the Interest Theory reflect the meaning of rights within rival and incommensurable value paradigms existing in today's moral and legal culture. The incommensurability of the underlying value paradigms leads to radical variance in the meaning of the term rights, despite the obvious homonymy. Specifically, I will argue that the Will Theory represents a fragment of a once integrated normative framework, and that it is in abstraction from such framework that this theory becomes beset by puzzles. In turn, the Interest Theory is incompatible with the properties attributed to rights in the older value paradigm. All in all, radical meaning variance makes a neutral external analysis of rights impossible. Therefore, there is no reason to try to choose between two theories that mistakenly assume meaning invariance of normative terms across rival and incommensurable value paradigms. Finally, in Part IV, I will claim that the term right nonetheless has an invariant conceptual core across the two main value paradigms in which it is embedded. Basically, rights entail state enforceability. This minimal semantic overlap among various usages of rights explains the confusing coexistence of various value paradigms and their associated normative terms.