Papers on Wolterstorff’s “Justice: Rights & Wrongs” (Journal of Religious Ethics, 2009)

Five articles from the Journal of Religious Ethics from O’Donovan, Attridge, Bernstein and Weithman and Wolterstorff’s response

Prophets, Priests and Kings: John Milton and the Reformation of Rights and Liberties in England (Witte, 2008)

In this Article, I focus on the development of rights talk in the pre-Enlightenment Protestant tradition. More particularly,
I show how early modern Calvinists—those Protestants inspired by the teachings of Genevan reformer John
Calvin (1509–1564)—developed a theory of fundamental rights as part and product of a broader constitutional
theory of resistance and military revolt against tyranny…..As an illustration of this broader story, this Article focuses on the reformation of rights and liberties led by the great English poet and philosopher, John Milton (1604–1674).

A Short History of Western Rights (Witte, 2006)

The intellectual history of Western rights talk is still very much a work in progress, with scholars still discovering and disputing in earnest the basic roots and routes of the development of rights concepts and structures. What follows is a brief sampling of some of the highlights of this still highly contested story.

The Concept of Rights in Christian Moral Discourse (Lockwood O’Donovan)

The entrenchment of rights language in contemporary discourse is beyond dispute. No less significantly there are indications that the concept of rights is itself passing beyond dispute. The concept of subjective rights, or rights ascribable to individuals and groups, has entered contemporary political and legal currency primarily through the liberal contractarian tradition. Consequently, the meanings of the term ‘rights’ cannot be properly ascertained in detachment from this theoretical context. For these meanings are embedded in a constellation of political-legal, philosophical and theological concepts with a complex history. Thus, to appraise the contemporary vocabulary of ‘rights’ is to appraise the dynamic theoretical complex that has given rise to it. If such an appraisal seeks its standard of judgement in the Bible, then it is bound to proceed theologically.
My impression is that theologians often engage in a naive and facile appropriation of the language of rights.