Front Page Titles (by Subject) Prima Facie Rights - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2
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Prima Facie Rights - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2 
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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Prima Facie Rights
“Prima Facie Versus Natural (Human) Rights.” Journal of Value Inquiry 10 (Summer 1976): 119–131.
Princeton philosopher Gregory Vlastos has plausibly argued that Lockean rights are not absolutely binding in a legal system that relies on them as “fundamental to a scheme of justice” (“Justice and Equality,” in R.B. Brandt, ed. Social Justice, New York: Prentice-Hall, 1962). Instead, Professor Vlastos says, these rights are “prima facie,” that is, provisional or tentative rights which are capable of being overridden in the face of other competing, and stronger moral claims.
This notion of prima facie rights suffers serious flaws. For example, it is claimed that as a prima facie right, someone's right to liberty may be overridden by another's right to welfare. But if this were true, rights could no longer be fundamental to a scheme of justice (as Vlastos agrees they are). The only respect in which rights are capable of being overridden is that they do not apply where politics itself is impossible. They may then be disregarded. But if freedom rights could be overridden by welfare rights, we would have a confusion between political and moral virtues or values, a confusion that would invalidate Vlastos's argument.
Attention to the meaning of prima facie rights is indispensable for anyone concerned with recent “mixed systems” attacks on Lockean natural rights and the free society.