Hohfeld on the duties in privileges and claims

Daniel Simão Nascimento


Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld was an American jurist who published a series of articles that were very important for 20th century analytical philosophy of right. Since they appeared, it has become common to distinguish between four kinds of right, one for each of the four ‘Hohfeldian incidents’: privileges (or liberties), claims, powers and immunities. Although Hohfeld’s theory has drawn much attention, very little of it has been directed to his concept of duty. In this article, I offer a clarification of this concept that takes into account both Hohfeld’s original intentions and the new uses that have been made of his theory. In section I, I analyze and clarify the definition of the concept of duty that we find in Hohfeld (1913) to show that it was employed in order to denote a legal obligation and that this use is purely descriptive. In section II, I discuss what kinds of duties may appear as correlatives of privileges and claims inside a Hohfeldian model. In section III, I conclude with a brief summary of the argument.

Keywords: Hohfeld, rights, duties, privilégio, demanda.

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