Hohfeld's Legal Relations
right is the opposite of no-right
correlates with correlates with
duty is the opposite of privilege

Figure 1.  Four legal relations for ordinary actions

Hohfeld [Hohfeld1913-sflc] defines two groups of four legal relations between individuals, the first group having to do with ordinary actions:

Person P has the right to do action A if every other person Q has the duty to allow P to do A. 

“A right is one's affirmative claim against another” [Hohfeld1913-sflc:55]. 

duty
“A duty ... is that which one ought or ought not to do.”
privilege
“[A] privilege is one's freedom from the right or claim of another” [Hohfeld1913-sflc:55]. 
no-right
Person P has the no-right to do action A if at least one other person Q does not have the duty to allow P to do A. 
power is the opposite of disability
correlates with correlates with
liability is the opposite of immunity

Figure 2.  Four legal relations for actions that change
legal relationships

and the second group having to do with actions that change legal relations: 

power
“[A] power is one's affirmative ‘control’ over a given legal relation as against another” [Hohfeld1913-sflc:55]. 
disability
immunity
“... [A]n immunity is one's freedom from the legal power or ‘control’ of another as regards some legal relation” [Hohfeld1913-sflc:55]. 
liability

Each relation is paired with its opposite, the relation that is in a sense its negation, and also with its correlative, the relation that is in a sense its inverse (Figures 1 and 2). 

If R and Ropp are opposites, then for P to have relation R is equivalent to P to fail to have relation Ropp

If R and Rcorr are correlatives, then for P to have relation R is equivalent to all other persons Q to have a corresponding relation Rcorr

Each relation is fundamentally between two people;  where a relation is presented as between a person P and many or all people, the meaning is the union of all the pairwise relations between P and one of the other people. 

For each relation R, its opposite Ropp, and its correlative Rcorr

  1. "P has R" is equivalent to "P fails to have Ropp".  For the first quartet of relations, R concerns doing an action A;  for the second quartet of relations, R concerns changing a legal relation S.  Examples: 
    "P has the right to do A" "P fails to have the no-right to do A". 
    "P has the duty to do A" "P fails to have the privilege to not do A". 
    "P has the power to change S" "P fails to have the disability to change S". 
    "P has immunity from changes to S" "P fails to have the liability to changes to S". 
  2. "P has R" is equivalent to "Every person Q other than P has Rcorr".  Examples: 
    "P has the right to do A" "Every Q other than P has the duty to allow P to do A". 
    "P has the duty to do A" "Some Q other than P has a right that depends on P doing A". 
    "P has the no-right to do A" "Some Q other than P has the privilege to prevent P from doing A". 
    "P has the privilege to do A" "Every Q other than P has the no-right to do anything prevented by P doing A". 
    "P has the power to change S" "Some Q other than P has a liability to changes in S". 
    "P has the liability to changes in S" "Some Q other than P has a power to change S". 
    "P has the disability to change S" "Every Q other than P has immunity to changes in S". 
    "P has immunity to changes in S" "Every Q other than P has the disability to change S". 

Quotations from Hohfeld's writings

  1. “A duty or a legal obligation is that which one ought or ought not to do.  ‘Duty’ and ‘right’ are correlative terms.  When a right is invaded, a duty is violated.” (Hohfeld1913-sflc p32)
  2. “if X has a right against Y that he shall stay off the former's land, the correlative (and equivalent) is that Y is under a duty toward X to stay off the place” (Hohfeld1913-sflc p32)
  3. “whereas X has a right or claim that Y, the other man, should stay off the land, he himself has the privilege of entering on the land;  or, in equivalent words, X does not have a duty to stay off.” (Hohfeld1913-sflc p32)
  4. “The privilege of entering is the negation of a duty to stay off.” (Hohfeld1913-sflc p32)
  5. “... when it is said that a given privilege is the mere negation of a duty, what is meant, of course, is a duty having a content or tenor precisely opposite to that of the privilege in question.” (Hohfeld1913-sflc p32)
  6. “... if A has not contracted with B to perform certain work for the latter, A's privilege of not doing so is the very negation of a duty of doing so.” (Hohfeld1913-sflc p33)

References

Balkin1990-hals
J. M. Balkin.  The Hohfeldian approach to law and semiotics.  University of Miami Law Review, 44:1119–1142, 1990. 
Abstract
pdf
Hogan2007-hp
Hunter Hogan.  A Hohfeldian Primer.  Legal Blog.  Chicago-Kent College of Law.  20 Dec., 2007. 
Abstract
html
Hohfeld1913-sflc
Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld.  Some Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning.  Yale Law Journal, 23(1):16–59, Nov. 1913. 
url
Hohfeld1917-flca
Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld.  Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning.  Yale Law Journal, (8):710–770, 1917. 
url
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2010May16Su21:42
Thomas A. Alspaugh