In English, 'right' is used in a number of ways to mean a number of things. We may turn to the right, for instance, even when that is not the right way to turn; the Pythagorean theorem deals with right angled triangles; governments sometimes shift to the right; straightforward people come right to the point when they seek to right matters; and we occasionally find that what someone is doing is not right, morally speaking, even though she has the right to do it. 'Right' in this last sense - 'right' as a kind of property we can hold, stand on, or act within; as something we can exercise if we choose, perhaps by asserting it against others - is our concern here, for this is the sense that conveys the concept of rights.
Copyright © 1989 Cambridge University Press. This chapter first appeared in Political Innovation and Conceptual Change.
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Dagger, Richard. "Rights." In Political Innovation and Conceptual Change, edited by Terence Ball, James Farr, and Russell L. Hanson, 292-308. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.