A discussion with Jennifer Nedelsky, Professor of Law, University of Toronto, and John Witte, Professor of Law, Emory University, moderated by Marta Cartabia, Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Italy, on the relationship between the search for identity and the proliferation of new individual rights brought about by social changes.
It is a common experience of contemporary life that more and more political and social issues are framed in the language of "rights." Whereas our culture is usually very uncomfortable with any kind of appeal to universal moral truths or to a "natural law," it is quite willing to recognize all sorts of "human rights," both of individuals and of social groups. Hence, the "proliferation of rights" is not at all an academic question, but a social trend that we all can encounter in our daily circumstances, at our workplace, or at school. This discussion is an attempt to ask some fundamental questions, such as: why are there rights in the first place? What determines what they are and who enjoys them? Can this process be abused? What role should rights play in our legal system?