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Basic RightsSubsistence, Affluence, and U.S. Foreign Policy: 40th Anniversary Edition$
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Henry Shue

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691202280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691202280.001.0001

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(p.65) 3 Liberty
Basic Rights

Henry Shue

Princeton University Press

This chapter evaluates the right conventionally most emphatically endorsed in North Atlantic theory: rights to liberties. Some liberties merit attention for many reasons, not the least of which is a strange convergence between supposed “friends” of liberty in the North Atlantic and rulers in the poorer countries who would share the emphasis on the priority of subsistence rights. Both groups have converged upon the “trade-off” thesis: subsistence can probably be enjoyed in poor countries only by means of “trade-offs” with liberties. This thesis might also be called the theory of reluctantly repressive development. The chapter shows that although the advocates of repressive development profess a strong commitment to the provision of subsistence, those theories of repressive development must be sharply distinguished from the theory of basic rights presented in this book. One of the several major differences is the place assigned here to at least some liberties, and the chapter indicates how fundamentally the same argument that establishes security rights and subsistence rights as basic rights also justifies the acknowledgement of at least certain political liberties and certain freedom of movement as equally basic. The basic liberties will turn out to include the liberty of participation.

Keywords:   North Atlantic theory, rights to liberties, subsistence rights, trade-off thesis, repressive development, basic rights, political liberties, freedom of movement, basic liberties, liberty of participation

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