Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Hedgehogs online

A brief follow-up to last week's post on consumers' fundamental rights and Dworkin's 'Justice for Hedgehogs'. On the website related to the book, Dworkin responds to comments and questions. On the topic of 'horizontal human rights' he writes:

Human rights conventions are constructed with the high responsibilities of coercive governments in mind: they assume that government must show all those over whom it exercises power an equal concern. We must therefore approach the question whether people have comparable rights against giant transnational corporations by first fixing the level of concern these organizations owe to those whose lives they affect. Which analogy should we use? Ordinary commercial enterprises do not owe the same concern to customers as to shareholders: they are obliged to seek a profit for the latter by enticing the former. They are subject to the constraints of decency of Part 4 [of 'Justice for Hedgehogs', CM] but not the much stronger constraints of coercive government. But giant corporations have many powers that strike critics as coercive and it might therefore be right to hold them to the greater level of concern we associate with governments. I have not attempted argument for or against that different analogy, but nothing in my discussion of human rights in Chapter 15 rules it out.'

Question: where would (or should) the line be drawn between 'ordinary' and 'giant' corporations?

And: can a theory of (international) fundamental rights do without a further explanation of the addressees of these rights, i.e. without explaining against whom fundamental rights may be asserted, and why? (compare Sloane, p. 985-986)

(Which reminds me of another previous post on the scope of fundamental rights protection)

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