By Joshua Aasgaard, (C) 1995
Thus far we have built upon the theories of rights found in Loren Lomasky, Henry Shue and Alan Gewirth. I have shown how welfare rights--rights more extensive than basic rights--can be justified if one accepts Lomasky's libertarian conception of basic rights. Further, I have explained how more advanced welfare rights actually enter the experience of more affluent societies. This justification and explanation is derived from a wholely neo-Kantian ethic found in much of contemporary theory. We have seen how basic rights come into existence. I have shown that their justification is based in project pursuit. We have also seen the weakness of basing rights solely in project pursuit. We have also seen how more advanced rights claims arise and how they can be justified.
All rights are created through experience. None exist a priori. Rights will vary from society to society and will differ according to the collective experiences of each society. Without rights, no meaningful life could be lived. But once some rights are admitted, a veritable Pandora's Box is opened and rights claims will grow as individuals' expectations within the societies grow. There are limits, however, to the lengths to which a society will accede rights claims. When these limits are reached or passed, respect for rights declines; expectations are lowered or go unmet. We have also seen the role ideological considerations play in allowing a clearer understanding of the depth and breadth of rights. Because rights are the heaviest moral claims individuals make on other individuals, obligation and acquiescence to rights claims must be justified.