Saturday, August 26, 2006

Meckled-Garcia reviews Dershowitz's theory of rights in the TLS

Saladin Meckled-Garcia (University College London) has a graceful review of Alan Dershowitz's venture into deep philosophical foundations of rights, Rights From Wrongs: A secular theory of the origins of rights, in the Times Literary Supplement of August 18 & 25, 2006, at p 35 (not online, even to subscribers, although I guess it will eventually be in the subscriber archive).

Because of Dershowitz's notoriety over his defense under certain circumstances of the use of torture, among other things, it would be very easy for a reviewer to avoid reviewing the book at hand and discuss everything else. Apart from a little teaser opening, Meckled-Garcia avoids that temptation and instead focuses on the book and where it fits within the broad intellectual currents about rights. The review is not very long, elegant, clear, and substantively quite right in pointing out that Dershowitz unwisely claims that he has offered a new theory of rights whereas what he offers falls within a long history of justifying rights according to some suitably abstract version of utility.

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