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Reviews of Biggar’s What’s wrong with rights? (Updated 14 April 2021)

Sunday, 6 December 2020 - 12:45pm

In What’s wrong with rights? (OUP, 2020) Nigel Biggar addresses questions about the legitimacy of ‘rights’-talk in its various forms—natural, moral, legal, universal, and absolute. He concludes that such talk obscures the importance of fostering civic virtue, corrodes military effectiveness, subverts the democratic legitimacy of law, proliferates publicly onerous rights, and undermines its own authority and credibility (see the complete description here). In response, Biggar urges the rejection of ‘right-fundamentalism’ and the promotion of public ethical discourse that is not shy of speaking about the duties and virtues of legal rights-holders.  

This page will track the engagement with Biggar’s book through reviews and comments published in magazines, news media, and other sources available to the public. 


14 November 2020, The Daily Telegraph: “If rights go wrong...” by Simon Heffer (web site or pdf

25 November 2020, New Statesman: “The myth of natural morality” by John Gray (web site or pdf

  • Richard Harris (House of Lords) offered a response to John Gray's review in the New Statesman here.

1 December 2020, Literary Review: “When virtue is not enough” by Michael Ignatieff (web site or pdf

19 December 2020, The Times: "What's wrong with rights? ... your human rights simply don't exist" by Jonathan Sumption (web site or pdf)


Canopy Forum Series on What's Wrong with Rights?:

20 January 2021, "Nigel Biggar, What's Wrong with Rights?" by David Little (web site)

21 January 2021, "Radicalizing Biggar’s What’s Wrong with Rights?" by Joel Harrison (web site)

22 January 2021, "Biggar and the Kind of Human Dignity that Remains" by Jennifer Herdt (web site)

2 February 2021, "Is Nigel’s Biggar’s What’s Wrong with Rights? sufficiently realistic?" by Hans-Martien ten Napel (web site)

9 February 2021, "Nigel Biggar, What's Wrong with Rights?" by Mark Hill QC (web site)

24 February 2021, “On the Division of Rights” by John Milbank (web site)

The first two of six responses by Nigel Biggar: