Front Page Titles (by Subject) Two Concepts of Rights - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1981, vol. 4, No. 1
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Two Concepts of Rights - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1981, vol. 4, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Two Concepts of Rights
“Two Concepts of Rights.” Philosophy and Public Affairs 9(Summer 1980):372–384.
Montague discusses what is implied by the idea that the possession of rights by some individual generates obligations for others. The author points out the faulty logic involved in arguing that obligations imply rights which in turn are the grounds of the obligations.
One cannot justify the judgment that A is obligated not to do something to B by stating that B has a right against such treatment, since the two statements are logically equivalent. If obligations logically imply rights, then rights cannot serve to ground or justify obligations without begging the question. If rights are to ground obligations then it must be some nonlogical connection between them that does the job.
Montague suggests this nonlogical link is that certain freedoms are so valuable that others are obligated not to interfere with their exercise. This suggests that rights which in some full blown sense are exercisable (rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, etc.) will be justified this way. On the other hand, those rights which are merely logical correlatives of obligations are those which are not exercisable. There is no justification of the right needed in the second case, since they are merely obligations looked at from another point of view. Such rights are rights against being treated in a certain way (rights not to be lied to, assaulted, etc.). Some rights (e.g., the right to life) involve both types of rights: exercisable freedoms and correlatives of obligations not to be treated in a certain way. In which case, of course, the justificatory procedure is much more complicated.