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Why rights are not optimisation requirements

Zanghellini, A. (2019) Why rights are not optimisation requirements. Jurisprudence, 10 (3). pp. 354-374. ISSN 2040-3321

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/20403313.2019.1629195


In this article I pursue the implications of the statement that constitutional rights are – as Alexy’s principles theory argues – optimisation requirements, and show that they are not. I argue that, applied to moral rights, optimisation obfuscates their nature, their relationship to human well-being, and the work they do in practical thought. As to constitutional rights, I argue that the fact that they belong in an institutional framework suggests some reasons for treating them like optimisation requirements in circumscribed cases. But these reasons are far from conclusive; and treating rights like optimisation requirements in other scenarios (conflicts of rights, structural discretion) indicates that optimisation, as defined in the principles theory, does not assist us in thinking well about the structure of constitutional rights. Constitutional rights demand compliance with whatever the interests on which they are based demand – whether or not what they demand is antecedently clear – not with some purported optimisation requirement.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:84010
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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