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A philosophical argument for a bill of rights

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This article seeks to show that the rights which protect people’s autonomy should be entrenched in the constitution of a democratic state. It is firmly located in egalitarian liberal tradition, as it takes for valid the following claims: (1) people have a fundamental interest in autonomy; (2) people have rights that their interest in autonomy, and the interests to which it gives rise, be protected and promoted; (3) people’s respective interests in autonomy must be protected equally. The argument for a bill of rights unfolds as follows: first, it is argued that we have autonomy-protecting rights not only against private individuals but also against the state, and the meaning of having such rights against the state is explained; then it is shown that it is legitimate to turn certain autonomy-protecting moral rights into legal rights, and that doing so in the case of the rights we have against the state amounts to turning them into constitutional rights; lastly, two objections to the argument deployed earlier are countered.

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