Human rights and intercultural relations: A hermeneutico-dialogical approach

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (4):513-541 (2006)
By drawing on hermeneutico-dialogical principles, the approach developed here seeks to advance the global implementation of a viable human rights regime in a manner commensurate with the preservation of culture-specific differences. To this end, the present article undertakes to elucidate the conditions under which the ongoing intercultural debate about rights might yield a more productive outcome through fostering the implementation of the international human rights regime in a manner that can do justice to core intra-cultural beliefs, values and practices. Chief among these are: a commitment to moving beyond universalism and relativism as polarized alternatives; endorsement of the comparable validity and dialogical equality of established traditions and cultures; valorization of mutual understanding and learning as the regulative orientation most conducive to yielding potentially transformative advances across cultures in the theory and practice of human rights; and acknowledgment of the need for both external and internal accountability. As contended throughout, these conditions apply equally both to modernist and to traditionalist cultures and call, correspondingly, for a rethinking of entrenched presuppositions in both domains. In defending these conditions, the dialogical approach poses a severe challenge to core presuppositions of the strong universalist stance, as endorsed by some prominent contributors to the contemporary debate about the cross-cultural implementation of human rights. Key Words: culture • dialogue • Hans-Georg Gadamer • Jürgen Habermas • hermeneutics • human rights • relativism • universalis.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453706064023
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