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The mission of the Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE) is to provide a university-wide forum for Central Washington University (CWU) students, encouraging equity, diversity, and inclusivity, representing all disciplines and experience levels, to present their mentored research, scholarship, and creative works in a juried environment that meets professional conference standards and expectations.

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Wednesday, May 18 • 4:45pm - 5:00pm
A Defense of H.L.A Hart's Will Theory of Rights Against Narrowness Objections

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Within the study of the philosophy of law, there have been long standing disputes regarding the nature and origin of rights. One prominent view, espoused by authors such as H.L.A Hart, is such that rights are derived from control by the bearer of the right over whatever the object of the right is. Under this view, an individual has a right to an object insofar as they control the object and exert their will over it. Hart’s will theory approach to rights has often been criticized on several significant conceptual and performative hurdles, each tied to a notion of problematic narrowness. First among these hurdles is an inability to account for those rights believed to be possessed by individuals generally. Second, Hart’s view requires rights to be voluntarily waivable in order to be cogent due to its focus upon control. This is problematic since some rights, particularly rights towards self-ownership or other freedoms, appear to lack any ability to be waived meaningfully. Third, the rights of the incapable are inadequately handled. I defend Hart’s work on a will theory approach by showing that these hurdles are not impassable; that Hart’s work is defensible against these critiques. My argument includes a reassessment of what is meant by being able to waive a right. This is accomplished by reframing waivability as a refrain from enforcing, rather than as a relinquishment of, rights.


Andrew Miller

Undergraduate, Philosophy & Religious Studies


Matthew Altman

Mentor, Philosophy & Religious Studies

Wednesday May 18, 2022 4:45pm - 5:00pm PDT
Student Union & Recreation Center (SURC) - Ballrooms B&C