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PI8011 Theories of Rights

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Lecturer: Dr Adina Preda
  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures
  • Semester: 2

Module Outline

The language of moral rights is pervasive both in everyday life and in legal, moral, and political philosophy. They are commonly invoked in support of claims of a certain weight. But there is no philosophical consensus on what rights are, what status or weight they have or indeed who can have rights and what their content would be. This module will tackle some of these questions pertaining to the concept of rights as well as questions about the possible ground of rights, the rights of groups and other potential right-holders, and possible conflicts of rights.

Learning Aims

  • To convey the difference between different theories of rights and their implications
  • To assess the role that rights play in a moral theory
  • To critically examine different ascriptions of rights and their consistency and plausibility

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand and critically assess the main theories of rights and their shortcomings
  • Formulate analytical arguments about rights and their place in a moral theory
  • Evaluate different ascriptions of rights and their plausibility

Recommended Reading List:

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.


PhD students will be required to write one substantial essay (3,000-4,000 words). Students should confirm the essay title with their lecturer.

The word count includes footnotes but it does not include the bibliography.

Essays that go over the limit will be liable for a 5 mark deduction.

There will be a 5 mark deduction for each week an essay is late. Students may request an extension by contacting the lecturer of their module.

Students must attach a cover sheet to all Philosophy essays.