ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why People Should Have Rights

Why People Should Have Rights Neera Chandhoke THIS is further to Nirja Gopal Jayal's comment'Rights, Justice and Gammon Property Resources' (EPW,July 9). In her reaction to K Subramanium's 'Science and Ethics in Public Decision Making: Case of Big Dams' (EPW, April 2), Jayal argues that any case for the right of tribals to common property resources cannot be articulated in terms of Nozickean philosophy as Subramanium has done. The framework which Subramanium has privileged is singularly inappropriate to the predicament of the tribals who are being displaced by the Narmada Valley project. 'The central flaw in this adaptation of the Nozickean argument to the situation of tribal communities facing imminent displacement is that this problem is completely inadmissible into the moral landscape of Nozickean political philosophy". She very rightly points out that collective rights such as the right of a community to common property resourcesdo not enter into Nozick's conceptualisation of rights, since the bearer of rights in libertarian theory is the separable individual. And it is true that liberal individualism has been traditionally uneasy with, if not hostile to, the claims of groups, since Usees group claims as violative of the principle of autonomy of individuals. The 'unencumbered' individual of liberal theory is completely emancipated from any ascriptive loyalty to a given group.

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