This course covers the history and theory of rights in recent scholarship in political theory and jurisprudence. The course is divided into two main parts. The first offers a history of rights in the West and explores some of the major textual sources of a modern ‘science of right.’ Among the major sources to be studied will be Roman private law (especially the crucial distinction between rights in rem and rights in personam), medieval canon law, the theory of natural rights, and major early modern sources on rights: Suarez, Grotius, Pufendorf, Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, and Kant. The seminar will also read major recent studies of this history, including Brett, Feenstra, Tierney, Tuck, Villey. The second part of the course proceeds to consider the major conceptual, normative, and interpretive problems on the status of rights in contemporary jurisprudence and political theory: Major problems for study in seminar may include the correlativity of rights and duties; the
‘Will Theory’ vs. ‘Interest Theory’ debate; the status of collective or group rights; the status of human rights; the function of rights in liberal political theory and constitutional democracy; the role of the state in a rights regime. Readings may include texts by Dworkin, Feinberg, Gilbert, Hart, Hohfeld, Kelsen, Nozick, Raz, Rawls, Sreenivasan, Waldron, and Wenar.