Grounding human rights

This paper examines the idea of human rights, and how they should be justified. It begins by reviewing Peter Jones?s claim that the purpose of human rights is to allow people from different cultural backgrounds to live together as equals, and suggests that this by itself provides too slender a basis. Instead it proposes that human rights should be grounded on human needs. Three difficulties with this proposal are considered. The first is the problem of whether needs are sufficiently objective for this purpose, to which it responds by drawing a distinction between human needs proper and societal needs. The second is the problem of overshoot: human needs are more expansive than human rights. It responds to this by arguing that where needs conflict, we make trade-offs before specifying the optimum set of human rights. The third is the problem of undershoot: needs cannot be used to ground civil and political rights. Here it suggests that some of these rights can be grounded directly in needs, others can be justified instrumentally, and yet others grounded in the human need for recognition. Finally the paper returns to Jones, and asks which approach to human rights is better able to justify them within both liberal and non-liberal cultures
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DOI 10.1080/13698230.2012.699396
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References found in this work BETA
Amartya Sen (2004). Elements of a Theory of Human Rights. Philosophy and Public Affairs 32 (4):315 - 356.
Albert Weale (2012). The Right to Health Versus Good Medical Care? Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (4):473-493.

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Citations of this work BETA
Stephanie J. Silverman (2014). Detaining Immigrants and Asylum Seekers: A Normative Introduction. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17 (5):600-617.
John Horton (2012). Why Liberals Should Not Worry About Subsidizing Opera. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (4):429-448.
Hillel Steiner (2012). Human Rights and the Diversity of Value. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (4):395-406.

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