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The desirability, or lack thereof, of bills of rights has been the focus of some of the most enduring political debates over the last two centuries. Unlike civil and political rights, social rights to the meeting of needs, standardly rights to adequate minimum income, education, housing, and health care are not usually given constitutional protection. This book argues that social rights should be constitutionalized and protected by the courts, and examines when such constitutionalization conflicts with democracy. It is thus located at the crossroads of two major issues of contemporary political philosophy, to wit, the issue of democracy and the issue of distributie justice. Interestingly and surprisingly enough, philosophers who engage in penetrating discussions on distributive justice do not usually reflect on the implications of their argument for democracy; they are met with equal indifference on the part of theorists of democracy.
This book stems from the perception that there may be conflicts between the demands of democracy and the demands of distributive justice, both of which are crucially important, and from the resulting recognition that the question of the relationship between these two values cannot be ignored.
Cecile Fabre is a Prize Research Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford