Sheldon Richman on Negative Versus Positive Rights


What we have in the debate over employer-provided contraception is a clash not between two liberty interests, but rather between two rights-claims – one negative, the other positive. All that is required for the exercise of a negative right (to self-ownership and, redundantly, liberty and one's legitimately acquired belongings) is other people's noninterference. But the fulfillment of positive rights requires that other people act affirmatively even if they don't want to, writes Sheldon Richman. Say, by providing products or paying the bills.