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Popular resistance and the idea of rights
chapterposted on 10.09.2020, 14:46 by Guy Aitchison
Neo-republican theorists have expressed scepticism at the idea of non-institutional moral rights which they associate with objectionable aspects of the natural rights tradition. However, their alternatives risk making rights the gift of the state and so losing the role of rights as a vocabulary of political critique and struggle. In this chapter, I defend the coherence of rights as moral entitlements which individuals possess independently of state recognition. I examine an early radical strand of natural rights thinking as articulated by the English Levellers. These early modern radical republicans defended a right to resistance as a fall-back right that guaranteed the other rights one enjoyed. Attention to this current of thinking has the potential to correct the statist bias of contemporary republican accounts by highlighting the idea of rights as a vocabulary of social criticism tied to the people as a source of moral claims and collective resistance.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Politics and International Studies