In an increasingly inward-looking world governed by populist governments, existing theories of rights are struggling to protect and expand individual rights. This failure can be attributed both to the present conception of rights as well as the absence of a unifying theme to address the existence and conflict of rights. In the present paper I argue that this unifying theme, which is necessary for protection and expansion of individual rights, is provided by “meaning” in an existential and linguistic sense. I assert that the greatest challenge faced by individual rights is in form of a faceless populist doctrine called “public interest.” As long as the issue of conflict of rights will be addressed in a numerical manner, individual rights will stand defeated. We need to come up with a new model for resolution of conflict of rights, which does not examine right holders as integers but as human beings. This paper, which is a continuation of my previous effort on the subject, elaborates upon the existential role of rights and seeks to construct an inviolable nucleus of rights by examining the essence and core meaning of rights. The paper’s final contribution lies in developing a semantical framework for resolution of conflict of rights.
Anuj Puri, The Meaning of Rights, 51 J. Marshall L. Rev. 503 (2018)