Taking the Reasons for Human Rights Seriously

Political Theory 33 (2):243 - 265 (2005)
Abstract
The human rights discourse is vitiated by its tendency to reification, a tendency manifest in an ideologically motivated failure to take the reasons for human rights seriously. When a set of rights fall short, in range or strength, of the reasons adduced for them, any claim to the universality and priority of the rights in question is open to the charge of falsification and reification. Such a claim invites immanent critique insofar as a human rights discourse fails to take its own reasons seriously by working out a set of rights commensurate with them. Further critique is necessary if the human rights concept as such can be shown to be incapable of living up to the best reasons for human rights, in the shape, the author argues, of agency-based reasons. These kinds of critique, especially the latter, can serve as an antidote to the reifying tendency of the human rights discourse
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