THE SOURCE: “Rights, Words, and Laws” by Amartya Sen, in The New Republic,Oct. 28, 2010.
What are rights and where do they come from? Behind the word “rights” are two distinct concepts: a moral and political call to action in the absence of a legal right (i.e., a right to fight for suffrage where none exists) and a right created by law, such as the right to vote. The two ideas are certainly related, but the line from natural rights to legal ones may not be at all direct, observes Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen.