The Quest for Rights
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The Quest for Rights

Ideal and Normative Dimensions

Edited by Massimo La Torre, Leone Niglia and Mart Susi

This discerning book explores the concept of human and fundamental rights, originating from the seminal work by the German legal scholar and constitutional lawyer Robert Alexy. Recognising the growing challenges to the idea of the universality of Human Rights, expert scholars consider time-independent conceptual questions which inevitably lie at the heart of any contemporary human rights discourse: What is the justification of balancing and/or trading off fundamental rights against other rights and collective goods? And are there utilitarian considerations that can limit the normative force of human rights?
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Chapter 2: A non-positivistic concept of constitutional rights

Robert Alexy


There are two fundamentally different conceptions of the nature of constitutional rights: a positivistic conception and a non-positivistic conception. According to both, constitutional rights are part of the positive law. The difference is that in the positivistic conception, constitutional rights are only or exclusively positive law, whereas in the non-positivistic conception positivity represents but one side of constitutional rights, that is to say, their real or factual side. Over and above this, constitutional rights, according to the non-positivistic conception, also have an ideal or critical dimension. This is not without reason. For as with all law, constitutional rights necessarily raise, in connection with principles theory, a claim to correctness. This claim to correctness leads to a necessary connection between constitutional rights as positive rights and human rights, as moral rights and, with this, to the dual nature of constitutional rights.

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