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Rights from Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights Paperback – December 13, 2005
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"Rights From Wrongs" is a very interesting book on the source of our rights from a welcomed secular point of view. Preeminent legal scholar and renowned criminal lawyer, Alan M. Dershowitz provides the readers with a lucid, engaging account on the secular origin of rights. Despite being broken out into three parts this book is really about two: the first half focuses on the origins of rights while the second half is the application of said theory of rights to specific controversies. This enlightening 274-page book is composed of twenty chapters and is broken out in the following three parts: I. The Sources of Rights, II. Some Challenges to Experience as the Source of Rights, and III. Applying the Experiential Theory of Rights to Specific Controversies.
1. A well-written, well-researched book that is accessible to the masses.
2. A fascinating topic in the hands of a preeminent legal mind.
3. A welcomed and more compelling secular point of view. Engaging, coherent, well reasoned book.
4. This book addresses to satisfaction the question, "Where do rights come from?"
5. A direct challenge to the approach to rights taken by both classical natural law and legal positivism. Throughout the book, Dershowitz states a who's who behind the classical approaches and provides a fair treatment of their perspectives. He also proposes a third approach, one based on human experiences.
6. Thought-provoking book. The author weaves a fine web of legal brain teasers.
7. The implications of rights being a product solely of human invention. A recurring theme, human experiences as the source of rights.
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The first half of the book deals primarily with where our rights come from. (from experience, he argues) The second half of the book switches gears to contemporary issues and controversies. Here he offers no answers, but rather argues that the answers will change depending on how the argument is framed. There are points at which the author comes across as arrogant, but hey, he's a lawyer. The arguments are compelling and well-crafted, and most readers will find that they agree with some points and disagree with others.
Overall, this book is well-written and at times it is even engaging. If you have any interest in legal, political, or ethical theory, this book is worth reading. If you are a Social Darwinist or an Ethicist of any religious stripe, you may be interested in learning about how "the other guy" thinks.