Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1: The Concept of Rights. 1.1. Some agreements about rights. 1.2. The moral status of rights. 1.3. The meaning of having rights. 1.4. Conditions of absence of rights. 1.5. Summary. 2: The Identity of Right-Holders. 2.1. Some acknowledged characteristics of right-holders. 2.2. A few remarks on the concepts of possible right-holders. 2.3. Alan Gewirth's theory of rights. 2.4. The priority of a system of rules. 2.5. Melden's theory of rights. 2.6. The integrated conception of a moral agent. 2.7. Summary. 3: The Withdrawal of Rights. 3.1. Some related positions regarding the withdrawal of rights. 3.2. Towards a new conception of the withdrawal of rights. 3.3. Who has the authority to withdraw rights. 3.4. The justifying ground for the withdrawal of rights. 3.5. Some clarifying remarks. 3.6. Summary. 4: Punishment. 4.1. General introduction and preliminary remarks. 4.2. The forward-looking approach to punishment. 4.3. The backward-looking approach to punishment. 4.4. An integrated justification for punishment. 4.5. The 'fair-play retributivist' or 'rights-retributivist' approach toward punishment. 4.6. Capital punishment. 4.7. Summary. 4.8. Appendix: Non-legal withdrawal of rights. 5: Rights of Partial Members of the Moral Community. 5.1. Children's rights. 5.2. Fetuses' rights: the morality of abortion. 5.3. Abortion as a conflict between rights. 5.4. Does abortion strike at the sanctity or value of life? 5.5. Rights of mentally retarded persons. 5.6. Summary. Conclusions. References. Index. Notes.
Like most discussions within the tradition of rights-talk, this study is motivated by the desire to promote the idea that rights are moral assets that people should acquire in the course of their membership within social and political frameworks. However, while most participants in rights-talk concentrate on the safety and protection constraints required for a successful exercising of rights, the present study inquires into the circumstances under which people's rights lose their validity. The author believes that if we want to prevent the erosion of the role of rights within society and to encourage their obligatory status, we should prevent their misuse, or their unjustified or excessive use. Those who have interests in rights, and are concerned about their withdrawal or denial, will find a unique and inventive way of dealing both with the use, as well as the abuse of rights.