Part I of this book aims to expand our understanding of the scale of interpretative possibilities that accompany economic and social rights. This chapter advances two interpretive theories: those of rationalism and consensualism. Both are found in the interpretations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and of constitutions found protective of economic and social rights, such as in South Africa, Canada, Germany and India. The chapter examines the rationalist privileging of human dignity or of the basic needs required for survival. It contrasts this with an interpretive approach that looks to the consensus reached by a majority of states (in international law) or constituents (in constitutional law). Neither standpoint provides a fully determinate answer, particularly in light of the notion of reasonable disagreement. The ways in which the two standpoints are reconcilable are suggested
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