Those who contrast political and civil rights with social and economic rights usually regard rights in the first category as active and those in the second as passive. While it is not always true or clear that so-called 'political and civil' rights are active, or active only, it is not that simple either that so-called 'socioeconomic' rights are always passive, or passive in every respect.

Socioeconomic rights are closely associated with the right to property. Altho historically the right to or of property has usually been mentioned in the same breath with 'basic' rights as the right to life and liberty, it may be considered a socioeconomic right itself. It has also been subjected to diverse interpretations in the course of history. Some of these interpretations are: a right 'in or to material things', a right 'to a revenue', a right 'not to be excluded from access to the means of labor' and --it has been claimed-- a right 'to a kind of society essential to a fully human life'. The latter right or interpretation of the right of property can hardly be divorced (if at all) from such socioeconomic alleged rights as the right 'to live decently', 'to a standard of living adequate for one's health and well-being', 'to social security', 'to be rescued from impending death', 'to work' and 'to education'. It is most, or all, of these rights which have been labeled "welfare-rights".

Insofar as the right to or of property and (other) socioeconomic rights demand only other people's noninterference, they may be conceived of as extrinsic general rights correlating with a purely nonactivating duty. Property in the right of property as a moral right must then be understood in the normative sense. Thus the extrinsic right of or to property applies solely to noninterference with what is morally or normatively speaking one's own. Interference with what may be legally or traditionally 'one's own', or 'one's own' according to some factual system of social norms, need not be interference in the normative sense of an extrinsic right-duty constellation. It may be an action which concerns something that truly belongs to someone else or to the whole community, or to all people to start with. Of course, it would be ideal if everything that is property in the normative sense would also be legal or social property, and vice versa, yet this is only contingently so. In the next chapter we will examine what property could mean in the normative sense, but so far as an extrinsic right of or to property and other socioeconomic rights are concerned, they must certainly not rest on principles which are 'doctrinal' in the sense of non-metadoctrinal. This encompasses what has been called "the right to treatment as an equal", that is, "to equal concern and respect in the decision about how goods and opportunities are to be distributed". Note, however, that also this right is only extrinsic insofar as the goods and opportunities may be considered natural givens, whose existence and availability does not depend on anyone's or any agency's active performance.

Let us assume that everyone would possess and control what 'e does own from the extrinsic normative perspective. Then it might be that everyone's revenues would be sufficient to keep 'im alive, to pay for 'er own or 'er children's healthcare and education, and maybe, even for a few luxuries. It might also be that, even tho everyone possessed and controlled what 'e 'extrinsically' owned, some people would still die of starvation. However unfortunate this is from a doctrinal point of view, it remains a contingent matter how much everyone would own, especially whether this is enough for a 'decent living' or not. In this respect the extrinsic right of or to property is not moral at all; it is 'metamoral', so to say. (Even appealing to the extrinsic rights to life or liberty does not help, as they are discretionary rights. And the principles of life and liberty are doctrinal principles which only indirectly generate an intrinsic right to life and an intrinsic right to liberty.)

Intrinsic socioeconomic rights guarantee a certain standard of living. This may be a 'minimum' standard of living, an equal standard or something in between, whether this standard can be obtained by means of what one already possessed oneself or not. According to these rights the standard is not contingent on what one happens to own from an extrinsic normative perspective, or for that matter, legally, traditionally or socially. This makes them into intrinsic general rights, primarily because they may (and in practise do) require activation of others to bring the standard of living of everyone up to a 'minimum' level, the same level or somewhere in between. On the basis of a teleological principle of beneficence, of equality, or similar principles, those people or groups who are wealthy have the general intrinsic, activating duty to do good and to give; the poor who live under substandard conditions have the general intrinsic right to a minimum to equal welfare and to what is given to them to attain this. Maybe, they also had the extrinsic right to control and use what is given to them, because they were already the normative owners of the goods concerned (or of the equivalent share of capital), but in this context that is merely of secondary significance.

Those who are or will be disadvantaged by the transfer of goods from the rich to the poor, or the poorest, have the intrinsic duty and the half-right to accept this disadvantage. On an international scale one indirect right accompanying this duty is a disadvantaged country's right to (and greater chance of) a peaceful international community; on a national scale, a disadvantaged group or person's right to a peaceful society. All these socioeconomic duties and rights, and accompanying duties and rights, are general in that they are not addressed to any person, group or country by name or in particular.

©MVVM, 41-57 ASWW

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