Regte, gesag en waardes


Rights, authority and values

In view of Johan van der Vyver's immense contribution to the clarification of the meaning of legal concepts, the establishment of terminology, the analysis of doctrines and the explanation of the foundations of matters, it is considered appropriate in this article to revisit a question which has occupied jurists since time immemorial, namely what a right might be. This question cannot be addressed without dealing with the context in which it stands. Therefore the fa te of the doctrine of subjective rights is firstly traced, after which the phenomena of human rights and fundamental rights are discussed Following these analyses, the question whether a single, comprehensive concept of right is viable is considered. In this context the need for the legal scholar to thoroughly consider the origin or justification for the existence of government authority is motivated. It seems as though unanimity about a concept o f right at anything beyond a relatively superficial, mechanical level is not really possible, but that a meaningful scholarly discourse on the matter is possible, at least among scholars who acknowledge the determining role of unverifiable presuppositions in the practice of scholarship. Finally it is argued that there is a connection between the values of the Constitution, the exercise of government authority and the development of a South African concept of right.