Feinberg Limitations

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III. Limitations to Feinberg’s Conception of Rights The central feature of Feinberg’s argument is the conceptual connection between claims, rights and duties. He asserts that i) rights cannot exist without claims, and ii) rights necessarily correspond to duties. A[Claim(Φ)] ↔ A[Right(Φ)] → A[Claim-Right(Φ)] ↔ B[Duty(Φ)] Feinberg’s argument ceases to hold if we are able to challenge any of the connections between claims, rights and duties. In the section that follows, I will present four examples of rights-assertions and examine whether Feinberg’s argument holds. To do so, I reintroduce the Hohfeldian matrix, but with a small modification. Note that Feinberg’s definition of rights relies only on primary incidents, privileges and claims…show more content…
However, there are cases where the claim-right of one party conflicts with the duty of the other party: the tennis match opponent’s duty to win conflicts with my claim-right to try to win, or the firing squad’s duty to shoot conflicts with my claim-right to life. In such cases, Feinberg’s definition gives us counterintuitive results. It states that assertions such as, “I have the right to try and win when playing a tennis match,” and “I have the right not to be shot by a firing squad,” do not count as proper rights-assertions. What is puzzling, however, is the fact that there is nothing intuitively wrong with either one of the offending assertions. Both sound like perfectly reasonable rights. At this juncture, Feinberg has one of two options: 1) bite the bullet and accept that such assertions are not actually rights or 2) amend his theory to accommodate cases in which claim-rights and duties conflict, and thereby include the offending cases above. As for option 1, he offers no good reason as to why such assertions should not count as proper rights. Therefore, he must include them in the pool of rights and amend his theory if it is to be complete and if it is to comply with collective
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