A number of rights recognized in traditional doctrines may be classified as extrinsic general rights, or either as extrinsic or intrinsic, general rights dependent on the interpretation. One such right, and by far the most important one, is the discretionary right to life. Another one is the right to liberty, if liberty is understood in the nonactivating (or so-called 'negative') sense of the absence of constraints. Both rights may be found under various names, such as the right of bodily safety and freedom, the right to security of person, to liberties (as personal values or interests) or the right not to be killed, not to be tortured, not to be a slave. From these rights more specific rights may be derived, such as the right 'to the pursuit of happiness' (or any other commodity), 'to freedom of thought and conscience', 'to freedom of opinion and expression' ( including the 'freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas thru any media' ), 'to freedom of peaceful assembly and association', or 'to freedom of movement and residence'. All these rights may be interpreted as general, discretionary rights which do not depend on the principles of any particular morality, religion, political ideology or other normative system. So long as they are analyzed as active (negative) rights and do not require a ('positive') performance by another party, they are extrinsic to any such particular normative system.

Extrinsic rights (and active rights in general) may be made more specific by more narrowly defining the kind of act the right-holder is free to perform or to refrain from, or the kind of situation 'e is permitted to live in; they may also be made more specific by more narrowly defining the class to which the right-holder belongs, or is permitted to belong. This is what generates the category of civil or political rights, when the bearer is looked upon as a citizen or a resident of a state. (It remains a proper subclass of the class of extrinsic rights nevertheless.) Examples of such civil rights are the right 'to participate in political activities', 'to freedom to seek, receive and impart information regardless of frontiers' and 'to freedom of movement and residence within the border of each state'.

Civil or political rights which require an action by the or a government, or by other people, do not belong to the class of extrinsic, general rights as they are never passive. In general one would say that rights such as the right 'to a nationality and to choose one's nationality', 'to recognition as a person before the law', 'to equal protection of the law', 'to a fair trial', 'to vote', 'to take part in the government of one's country' or 'to a share in political power' are rights correlating with an activating duty required or presupposed. On another view, however, such rights may be looked upon as rights to freedom from discrimination, and on this interpretation the correlative duty is the duty not to make an irrelevant distinction between citizens or residents. As discrimination would require activation (a 'positive act') in these cases, namely the drawing of a distinction on the basis of some irrelevant factor, the right to freedom from discrimination is an active, general right which deserves to be called "extrinsic". This facet of nondiscrimination is found again in the use of terms such as equal and fair in the formulation of the rights. The argument is only valid, however, so long as equality or fairness does not require the government or other citizens to draw relevant distinctions. Firstly, this demands someone else's activation; and secondly, it inevitably introduces a focus of relevancy with a (first-order or non-metadoctrinal) doctrinal principle establishing its content.

If the right to a nationality exists, and if it is an extrinsic general right, then it means that everyone may take on a nationality, and that no irrelevant distinction ought to be made between people in this respect. As an extrinsic right, it also means that one does not have to assume a nationality. If having a nationality, or a particular nationality, is mandatory, then the 'right' to such a nationality is an intrinsic half-right.

Recognition before the law sounds like an expression referring to an activation, namely the recognition, but when it means that within the category of persons no distinction shall be drawn, the right to such a recognition correlates with a nonactivating duty. But, of course, a personal being living in a stateless environment could not on the basis of this right claim to be recognized before a law. The existence of a state and a law have already been presupposed in the formulation of such a general right.

The right to freedom from discrimination per se, whether extrinsic or intrinsic, is a right which is never, or seldom, mentioned in traditional declarations and theories on rights. If discrimination is mentioned at all, the alleged 'basic' right is usually confined to a freedom from racial discrimination, even when this is not explicitly mentioned. Thus, the traditional theorist may speak of a right 'to open housing', that is, to rent, lease or buy homes without discrimination, but exclusively refer to, and think of, a distinction on the basis of race or skin color. Rights which are formulated without using the term discrimination, but which guarantee a kind of freedom from discrimination nonetheless, are usually a little bit less restrictive. They may also mention 'the freedom of religion' but not adherence or nonadherence to a denominational doctrine in general, and not from religion. Or, they may mention 'the freedom to change one's religion or belief' and not just one's belief, whether religious or not. (A traditional declaration of human rights has it that education should promote tolerance and friendship between religious groups only, not between groups of different ideological persuasions, denominational or not, political or not.) Such selective alleged rights suffer from religionism and interfactorial exclusivism, phenomena to receive special attention in the opening chapters of the Book of Fundamentals. Not only can they not be extrinsic, they are expressive of the wrong morality and the wrong ideology.

©MVVM, 41-57 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Instruments
Right-Duty Constellations
Some Alleged Rights and Justifications