Statelessness, sentimentality and human rights: A critique of Rorty's liberal human rights culture

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (9):1011-1024 (2011)
Abstract
This article considers the ongoing difficulties for mainstream political theory of actualizing human rights, with particular reference to Rorty’s attempt to transcend their liberal foundations. It argues that there is a problematic disjuncture between his articulation of exclusion and his hope for inclusion via the expansion of the liberal human rights culture. More specifically, it shows that Rorty’s description of victimhood is based on premises unavailable to him, with the consequence that stateless persons are rendered inhuman, and, further, that his accounts of sentimentality and solidarity have limited potential for the inclusion of such victims within the liberal ‘community of justification’. In the final analysis, the article argues that there is a substantial mismatch between Rorty’s dependence on both liberal norms and international political practice, and his hopes for the human rights culture to include those stripped of human dignity
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