Grégoire WEBBER, "Droits et Droit"

Lecturer: Prof. Grégoire Webber, Canada Research Chair in Public and Philosophy of Law, Queen’s University Faculty of Law

Commentator: Prof. Christine Vézina, Université Laval Faculty of Law

Date and place: 24 September 2019, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal


Philosophical reflection on rights and law is progressing and regressing. It is a sign of regression that the case law and literature on human rights (a) take for granted that rights and law are generally opposed, (b) conceive of rights so as to omit relationships between persons necessary for the rights of everyone to be respected and (c) strip the rights of their priority and probative force by relegating them, with some exceptions, to a voidable status, as illustrated by justified violations of rights, now commonplace. None of this is as it should be.

This conference is part of an effort to develop an understanding of rights as the expression of a just relationship between persons. It begins with an exploration of how the human rights case law has moved at a distance from the interdefinability of rights and justice, an interdefinability that denies that a right can be opposed to justice. The intellectual foundations of the approach taken by our courts reveal a lack of concern for the relationships between persons that are necessary to realize the rights of each member of the community. Caring about these relationships and the reasons for action that rights and law establish helps to structure a robust understanding of rights as tripartite relationships between two persons and action. On this basis, the justification of a legal claim vis-à-vis or against another person calls for an assessment of whether the claim is in its right (is fair, is in accordance with justice).

Published Version of the Lecture (Thémis)

This content has been updated on June 12th, 2021 at 15 h 31 min.