Rights from Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights

Rights from Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights

by Alan M. Dershowitz


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Where do our rights come from? Does "natural law" really exist outside of what is written in constitutions and legal statutes? If so, why are rights not the same everywhere and in all eras? On the other hand, if rights are nothing more than the product of human law, why should we ever allow them to override the popular will? In Rights from Wrongs, renowned legal scholar Alan Dershowitz puts forward a wholly new and compelling answer to this age-old dilemma: Rights, he argues, do not come from God, nature, logic, or law alone. They arise out of particular human experiences with injustice. Rights from Wrongs is the first book to propose a theory of rights that emerges not from a theory of perfect justice but from its opposite: from the bottom up, from trial and error, and from our collective experience of injustice. Human rights come from human wrongs. "[Dershowitz's] underlying theory is one that can be neutrally applied by people residing at all positions within the political spectrum.... Perhaps if his views were understood by more people, there would be both a toning down of the political rhetoric." -Tampa Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465017140
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 12/11/2005
Edition description: ANN
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 659,553
Product dimensions: 5.62(w) x 8.37(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Alan Dershowitz is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Known as a defense lawyer, he is also a litigator, columnist, lecturer, book reviewer, and prolific author. His recent books include Sexual McCarthyism, on the Starr investigation, and Reasonable Doubts, on the O. J. Simpson case. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Rights from Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is something in the law, that if there are three mainstreams of theorys that intends to find the source of rights, none of them gives the right answer. Dershowits trys to locate that 'something' in an experential aproach to the source of rights, and looks for the experience with past wrongs with a sight in morals, as a ground where it can be builded a theory on rights. There was a german jurist, Savigny, who created the historic school of law, and founded that 'something' in the spirit of the people, the german people in the case. It might be the relation between facts and the social belief on morals what give us the standars for the right and the wrong. There still is not a right answer, but Dershowits have a point to be considered.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This high level book on legal philosophy attempts to discover and explain the origins and future development of human rights and civil liberties. Legal scholar, Harvard law professor and author Alan Dershowitz makes no attempt to tutor readers. He starts from an expert philosophical perspective, and only goes deeper as he seamlessly navigates through contemporary, historical and judicial examples to present his theory about the origins of rights. Dershowitz is a masterful, machete-wielding guide through a dense, challenging forest of ideas laced with tangled vines of legal ideology. We recommend his book to readers with prior knowledge of the progress of human rights and U.S. civil liberties, as well as social and legal philosophy. It is a notch thick for good cocktail party conversation or easy undergraduate debate. However, it exemplifies Dershowitz¿s vivid thought process and powerful command of social philosophy. Dershowitz and other civil libertarians feel constantly compelled to challenge any court rulings or majority-held opinions that even remotely hint of infringing on real or perceived personal rights. This book fully explains why.