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Reviews of Biggar’s What’s wrong with rights? (Updated 21 January)

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)

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