Will Theory and Hohfeldian Privileges


Law defines the rules that govern a society. These rules can be enacted by a government or made up by people on their own. These rules include laws that govern the way you can do things and laws that tell what is illegal.

Legal rights (often called “rights” or “obligations”) are enforceable and recognized by the law, typically in the form of contracts, immunities, and claims. Although imperfect legal rights exist–for example, unenforceable contracts, certain immunities, and claims barred by lapse of time–they are not typically the norm (Fitzgerald 1966: 233; Raz 1994: 256).

Typical institutional features that mark law include an action-guiding orientation and a rich network of procedures involving recognition, adjudication, enforcement, and legislation. In contrast, non-institutional rights tend to exhibit less institutional and more practical orientations.

The Will Theory and Hohfeldian privileges

Generally speaking, rights provide right-holders a measure of normative control over themselves or others (Hart 1982; 1983). They function as small-scale sovereigns over the domains they rule, controlling as a matter of choice whether duties are owed to them and/or how they may be exercised.

At times, right-holders may even be able to exercise their powers or claim-rights against others (Hart 1982; MacCormick 1977: 190-194). Moreover, at times, rights and their correlative duties justify each other (MacCormick 1977: 189; Dworkin 1977: 171; Raz 1970: 226-227).

This tension between individualistic interests, agency, dignity, autonomy, and liberty is a familiar feature of many legal systems. It may be that such interests and/or responsibilities can be reconciled with more utilitarian or even common good ideals.

Posted in: Gambling