The international doctrine of human rights is one of the most ambitious parts of the settlement of World War II. Since then, the language of human rights has become the common language of social criticism in global political life. This book is a theoretical examination of the central idea of that language, the idea of a human right. In contrast to more conventional philosophical studies, the author takes a practical approach, looking at the history and political practice of human rights (...) for guidance in understanding the central idea. The author presents a model of human rights as matters of international concern whose violation by governments can justify international protective and restorative action ranging from intervention to assistance. He proposes a schema for justifying human rights and applies it to several controversial cases-rights against poverty, rights to democracy, and the human rights of women. Throughout, the book attends to some main reasons why people are sceptical about human rights, including the fear that human rights will be used by strong powers to advance their national interests. The book concludes by observing that contemporary human rights practice is vulnerable to several pathologies and argues the need for international collaboration to avoid them. (shrink)
"The Moral Standing of States" is the title of an essay Michael Walzer wrote in response to four critics of the theory of nonintervention defended in Just and Unjust Wars . It states a theme to which he has returned in subsequent work. I offer four sets of comments. First, by way of introduction, I describe the controversy between Walzer and his critics and try to identify the central point of contention. Second, I make some observations about the wider conception (...) of global justice suggested by Walzer's remarks, emphasizing the extent of the difference between this conception and the traditional view of a "society of states" to which it stands as an alternative. The central value in Walzer's conception is collective self-determination, so I comment about its meaning and importance. Finally, I consider whether and how concerns about the moral standing of states bear on the kinds of cases of humanitarian intervention that the world community has actually faced since the book and article were written, particularly since the end of the cold war. (shrink)
Politically, as well as philosophically, concerns with human rights have permeated many of the most important debates on social justice worldwide for fully a half-century. Henry Shue's 1980 book on Basic Rights proved to be a pioneering contribution to those debates, and one that continues to elicit both critical and constructive comment. Global Basic Rights brings together many of the most influential contemporary writers in political philosophy and international relations - Charles Beitz, Robert Goodin, Christian Reus-Smit, Andrew Hurrell, Judith Lichtenberg, (...) Elizabeth Ashford, Thomas Pogge, Neta Crawford, Richard Miller, David Luban, Jeremy Waldron and Simon Caney- to explore some of the most challenging theoretical and practical questions that Shue's work provokes. These range from the question of the responsibilities of the global rich to redress severe poverty to the permissibility of using torture to gain information to fight international terrorism. The contributors explore the continuing value of the idea of "basic rights" in understanding moral challenges as diverse as child labor and global climate change. (shrink)
Philosophical attention to problems about global justice is flourishing in a way it has not in any time in memory. This paper considers some reasons for the rise of interest in the subject and reflects on some dilemmas about the meaning of the idea of the cosmopolitan in reasoning about social institutions, concentrating on the two principal dimensions of global justice, the economic and the political.