A Certain Kind of Moral Scepticism and the Foundations of Human Rights

Law and Justice 157:39-53 (2006)
Abstract
Despite the prevalence of human rights talk in Western jurisprudence, there has never been less belief in or acceptance of, any genuine form of objective morality. Academics reject the reality of moral objectivity and proclaim, as an objective truth, that morality is a mere “socio-historical construct”, illusory because always outweighed by worse consequences, expressions of subjective preference or mere evidence of culturally relative predilections. If morality is not that, then it is thought to be evidence of the power of the ruling elite in an essentially value-free universe. This article examines moral scepticism and moral relativism as a bedrock for human rights laws. It argues that if we are to retain any coherent and meaningful concept of human rights we will have to jettison our moral relativism.
Keywords Human rights  Natural law  Moral scepticism  Moral relativism
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