Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Paul Hurley

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In this thesis, I seek to provide a framework for developing nations making policy-decisions about legal rights, as in the realm of Rawlsian ideal theory, prescriptions for governments not living in conditions of moderate scarcity is lacking. I first springboard off Stephen Holmes and Cass R. Sunstein’s conclusion that “all legal rights are positive,” from their book, The Cost of Rights, to argue for the value of considering the economic implications of rights protections. I then propose that Holmes and Sunstein’s conclusion means that we can think of legal rights as goods to be purchased by governments. Next, I discuss the implications of “rights as goods” within the reality of the developing world. These implications highlight the necessity to fully consider the economics of legal rights in the developing world. Finally, I highlight the distinct advantages of including economic considerations when discussing legal rights for arriving at a consensus. I conclude that ignoring these economic considerations of legal rights uniquely harms the developing world.