In Fundamental Legal Conceptions
by Wesley Hohfeld, he argues that there are four types of rights
', or 'immunities
'. When a person
has a claim right to something, they have an entitlement
to recieve something from a second party. Having a liberty right entitles a person to be able to do something, such as the right of a man to grow a beard if he wants to, or the right to dress as one pleases in his or her own home. A power
right gives the right-holder an entitlement to require something of a second party. An immunity
right exempts the right-holder from an action
of a second party.
As you can see from the above, each of these rights involves the right-holder and the variable 'second party'. This creates the following correlates to each of the four rights: If one person has a claim right to something, another person has a duty to provide it. If someone has a liberty right, someone else has no claim to that person, for example if you have the liberty to do as you please in a certain situation, no one else can have a claim right to require you to do something else. The correlate of a power right is a liability, and the correlate of an immunity right is no power: if someone is expempt from something, no one else has the power to subject them to it.
If follows from this that the correlate of one right is the opposite of another right.
Though Hohfeld was writing strictly about legal rights
, some contemporary philosophers
believe 1913-1917 work is not confined to the legal arena
, but has applications to moral
rights, including the ever-elusive human rights
, making this a useful analysis
Sources: A.J.M. Milne, Human Rights and Human Diversity; Rex Martin, On Hohfeldian Liberties.