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The critique of rights has played a crowning role in critical philosophy. From Hegel to Marx, to Foucault and beyond – Duncan Kennedy, Christoph Menke, the contributors to this Symposium – the critique of rights has always represented an essential and inescapable step in the critique of modern Western society. The reason is plain: conceptions of natural rights, human rights, and civil rights have been central to the founding of modern political thought (from Hobbes, Locke, and Wollstonecraft forward), to the birth and flourishing of legal and political liberalism (in Rawls and Habermas), to the establishment of regimes of civil and political rights, and to the institutionalization of international human rights. Rights are the principal foundation for the discourse and practices of Western liberal democracies. Thus, the critique of rights is an indispensable step in challenging the failures of liberal political theory and liberal legalism. Of this, there is little doubt.


Law | Law and Philosophy