Machine generated contents note: Prologue; Part I. Philosophical Foundations: 1. Defining humanrights in a coherent manner; 2. Near neighbors, distant neighbors and the ethics of globalization; 3. Ethical guidelines for business in an age of globalization; Part II. Practical Applications: 4. Humanrights and the ethics of investment in China; 5. Liberia and Firestone: a case study; 6. Free trade, fair trade, and coffee farmers in Ethiopia; 7. Maquiladoras: exploitation, economic opportunity or both?; Part (...) III. The Challenge of Enforcement: 8. Possibilities and problems; 9. Humanrights, U.S. multinational corporations and the Alien Tort Claims Act; Epilogue. (shrink)
The consequentialist project for humanrights -- Exceptions to libertarian natural rights -- The main principle -- What is well-being? What is equity? -- The two deepest mysteries in moral philosophy -- Security rights -- Epistemological foundations for the priority of autonomy rights -- The millian epistemological argument for autonomy rights -- Property rights, contract rights, and other economic rights -- Democratic rights -- Equity rights -- The most (...) reliable judgment standard for weak paternalism -- Liberty rights and privacy rights -- Clarifications and responses to objections -- Conclusion. (shrink)
Forward - Prefacio - Acknowledgments - Preface - About the author - Part One: the rhetoric - An urgent context for twenty-first century librarianship - Humanrights, contestations and moral responsibilities of library and information workers - Part Two: the reality - Practical strategies for social action - Prevalent manifestations of social action applied to library and information work - Specific forms of social action used in library and information work for social change - Closing thought.
Censorship in the area of public health has become increasingly important in many parts of the world for a number of reasons. Groups with vested interest in public health policy are motivated to censor material. As governments, corporations, and organizations champion competing visions of public health issues, the more incentive there may be to censor. This is true in a number of circumstances: curtailing access to information regarding the health and welfare of soldiers in the Kuwait and Iraq wars, poor (...) health conditions in Aboriginal communities, downplaying epidemics to bolster economies, and so forth. This paper will look at the use of a computer worm (the benevolent health worm) to disseminate vital information in␣situations where public health is threatened by government censorship and where there is great risk for those who ‹speak out’. The discussion of the benevolent health worm is focused on the Peoples’ Republic of China (China) drawing on three public health crises: HIV/AIDS, SARS and Avian Influenza. Ethical issues are examined first in a general fashion and then in a specific manner which uses the duty-based moral philosophy of Confucianism and a Western humanrights-based analysis. Technical, political and legal issues will also be examined to the extent that they better inform the ethical debate. (shrink)
Addresses the issues at the heart of international medicine and social responsibility. A number of international declarations have proclaimed that health care is a fundamental human right. But if we accept this broad commitment, how should we concretely define the state’s responsibility for the health of its citizens? Although there is growing debate over this issue, there are few books for general readers that provide engaging accounts of critical incidents, practices, and ideas in the field of human (...) class='Hi'>rights, health care, and medicine. Included in the book are case studies of such issues as AIDS among orphans in Romania, organ trafficking, prison conditions, health care rationing, medical research in the third world, and South Africa’s constitutionally guaranteed right of access to health care. It uses these topics to address themes of protection of vulnerable populations, equity and fairness in delivering competent medical care, informed consent and the free flow of information, and state responsibility for ensuring physical, mental, and social well-being. (shrink)
Zoopolis offers a new agenda for the theory and practice of animal rights. Most animal rights theory focuses on the intrinsic capacities or interests of animals, and the moral status and moralrights that these intrinsic characteristics give rise to. Zoopolis shifts the debate from the realm of moral theory and applied ethics to the realm of political theory, focusing on the relational obligations that arise from the varied ways that animals relate to (...) class='Hi'>human societies and institutions. Building on recent developments in the political theory of group-differentiated citizenship, Zoopolis introduces us to the genuine "political animal". It argues that different types of animals stand in different relationships to human political communities. Domesticated animals should be seen as full members of human-animal mixed communities, participating in the cooperative project of shared citizenship. Wilderness animals, by contrast, form their own sovereign communities entitled to protection against colonization, invasion, domination and other threats to self-determination. `Liminal' animals who are wild but live in the midst of human settlement (such as crows or raccoons) should be seen as "denizens", resident of our societies, but not fully included in rights and responsibilities of citizenship. To all of these animals we owe respect for their basic inviolable rights. But we inevitably and appropriately have very different relations with them, with different types of obligations. Humans and animals are inextricably bound in a complex web of relationships, and Zoopolis offers an original and profoundly affirmative vision of how to ground this complex web of relations on principles of justice and compassion. (shrink)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident..." So begins the U.S. Declaration of Independence. What follows those words is a ringing endorsement of universal rights, but it is far from self-evident. Why did the authors claim that it was? William Talbott suggests that they were trapped by a presupposition of Enlightenment philosophy: That there was only one way to rationally justify universal truths, by proving them from self-evident premises. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the authors (...) of the U.S. Declaration had no infallible source of moral truth. For example, many of the authors of the Declaration of Independence endorsed slavery. The wrongness of slavery was not self-evident; it was a moral discovery. In this book, William Talbott builds on the work of John Rawls, Jurgen Habermas, J.S. Mill, Amartya Sen, and Henry Shue to explain how, over the course of history, human beings have learned how to adopt a distinctively moral point of view from which it is possible to make universal, though not infallible, judgments of right and wrong. He explains how this distinctively moral point of view has led to the discovery of the moral importance of nine basic rights. Undoubtedly, the most controversial issue raised by the claim of universal rights is the issue of moral relativism. How can the advocate of universal rights avoid being a moral imperialist? In this book, Talbott shows how to defend basic individual rights from a universal moral point of view that is neither imperialistic nor relativistic. Talbott avoids moral imperialism by insisting that all of us, himself included, have moral blindspots and that we usually depend on others to help us to identify those blindspots. Talbott's book speaks to not only debates on humanrights but to broader issues of moral and cultural relativism, and will interest a broad range of readers. (shrink)
It is commonly understood that in its focus on rights and obligations law is centrally concerned with organising responsibility. In defining how obligations are created, in contract or property law, say, or imposed, as in tort, public, or criminal law, law and legal institutions are usually seen as society’s key mode of asserting and defining the content and scope of responsibilities. This book takes the converse view: legal institutions are centrally involved in organising irresponsibility. Particularly with respect to the (...) production of large-scale harms – including extensive humanrights violations, forms of colonialism, or environmental or nuclear devastation – and in opposition to conventional understandings of responsibility in law, morality and politics, the book provides a detailed analysis of the ways in which legal institutions – their practices, concepts, and categories – themselves operate as much to deflect responsibility for harms suffered as they do to acknowledge them. Drawing on a series of case studies from local, national, and global concerns the book analyses how law facilitates dispersals and disavowals of responsibility, and it shows how it does so in consistent and patterned ways. In assessing how this ‘organised irresponsibility’ operates, and what its consequences are for both legal analysis and society generally, a thoroughgoing re-evaluation of law’s methods, operation, and consequences is required. At stake is nothing less than a fundamental re-assessment of the role of modern law in the production and legitimation of human suffering. This innovative and interdisciplinary book provides a sustained challenge to conventional thinking about law and legal institutions. It will be of major interest to those working in law, political and legal theory, sociology and moral philosophy. (shrink)
The integration of personalism into business ethics has been recently studied. Research has also been conducted on humanistic management approaches. The conceptual relationship between personalism and humanism , however, has not been fully addressed. This article furthers that research by arguing that a true humanistic management is personalistic. Moreover, it claims that personalism is promising as a sound philosophical foundation for business ethics. Insights from Jacques Maritain’s work are discussed in support of these conclusions. Of particular interest is his distinction (...) between human person and individual based on a realistic metaphysics that, in turn, grounds human dignity and the natural law as the philosophical basis for humanrights, personal virtues, and a common good defined in terms of properly human ends. Although Maritain is widely regarded as one of the foremost twentieth century personalist philosophers, his contribution has not been sufficiently considered in the business ethics and humanistic management literature. Important implications of Maritainian personalism for business ethics as philosophical study and as practical professional pursuit are discussed. (shrink)
This essay is a brief attempt to summarize and evaluate the contributions that "Democracy and Tradition" makes to the field of comparative ethics. It is argued that the potential impact of these contributions would be strengthened by engagement with the common morality already imbedded in international humanrights norms.
Based on the author's award-winning and hugely popular undergraduate course at the University of Texas, this book explores these questions and the fundamentally sociological processes which underlie the quest for morality and justice in ...
Despite the prevalence of humanrights 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 humanrights laws. It argues that if we are to retain any coherent and meaningful concept of humanrights we will have to jettison our moral relativism. (shrink)
Plutarch is virtually unique in surviving classical authors in arguing that animals are rational and sentient, and in concluding that human beings must take notice of their interests. Stephen Newmyer explores Plutarch's three animal-related treatises, as well as passages from his other ethical treatises, which argue that non-human animals are rational and therefore deserve to fall within the sphere of humanmoral concern. Newmyer shows that some of the arguments Plutarch raises strikingly foreshadow those found (...) in the works of such prominent animal rights philosophers as Peter Singer and Tom Regan in maintaining that non-human animals are the sorts of creatures that have intellectual qualities that cause them to be proper objects of man's concern, and have interests and desires that entitle them to respect from their human counterparts. This volume is groundbreaking in viewing Plutarch's views not only in the context of ancient philosophical and ethical thought, but in its place, generally overlooked, in the history of speculation on human-animal relations, and in pointing out how remarkably Plutarch differs from such predominantly anti-animal thinkers as the Stoics. (shrink)
All investigators funded by the National Institutes of Health are now required to receive training about the ethics of clinical research. Based on a course taught by the editors at NIH, Ethical and Regulatory Aspects of Clinical Research is the first book designed to help investigators meet this new requirement. The book begins with the history of human subjects research and guidelines instituted since World War II. It then covers various stages and components of the clinical trial (...) process: designing the trial, recruiting participants, ensuring informed consent, studying special populations, and conducting international research. Concluding chapters address conflicts of interest, scientific misconduct, and challenges to the IRB system. The appendix provides sample informed consent forms. This book will be used in undergraduate courses on research ethics and in schools of medicine and public health by students who are or will be carrying out clinical research. Professionals in need of such training and bioethicists also will be interested. (shrink)
pt. 1. Background you need. -- What is brain-compatible teaching -- The old and new of it -- When brain research is applied to the classroom everything will change -- Change can be easy -- We're not in Kansas anymore -- Where's the proof -- Tools for exploring the brain -- Ten reasons to care about brain research -- The evolution of brain models -- Be a brain-smart consumer: recognizing good research -- Action or theory: who wants to read all (...) that research -- Excellent sources of research -- Fun factoids on the brain -- What's in the human brain -- Brain teaser -- The brain divided -- The brain connected -- Brain geography -- Brain "cell" ebration: far-out facts about brain cells -- Learning happens but how -- Are today's kids different -- Boy's and girl's brain differences -- Learning disabilities; different brains -- The cranial soup bowl: understanding the chemicals in our brains -- pt. 2. The foundation for teaching is principles, not strategies. What are the principles -- Principle 1: the principle of change: brain is dynamic, not fixed -- Principle 2: the principle of variety: all brains are unique -- Principle 3: the principle of developmental sensitivity -- Principle 4: the principle of interaction: we have a social brain -- Principle 5: the principle of connectivity: the brain is an integrated system of systems -- Principle 6: the principle of memory malleability -- Principle 7: the principle of resource consumption -- necessity for processing -- pt. 3. So what; now what. Asking big questions: what's in a brain-compatible curriculum -- Brain-compatible test-taking success strategies -- Systemic change: the next level -- Big picture analysis: transformation happens -- Action research makes a difference -- The learning community -- What's next. (shrink)
Could global government be the answer to global poverty and starvation? Cosmopolitan thinkers challenge the widely held belief that we owe more to our co-citizens than to those in other countries. This book offers a moral argument for world government, claiming that not only do we have strong obligations to people elsewhere, but that accountable integration among nation-states will help ensure that all persons can lead a decent life. Cabrera considers both the views of those political philosophers who say (...) we have much stronger obligations to help our co-citizens than foreigners and those cosmopolitans who say our duties are equally strong to each but resist restructuring. He then outlines his own position, using the European Union as a partial model for the integrated alternative and advocating instituting EU-style supranational government, development aid, and free movement of persons in the Americas and other regions. Over time, Cabrera argues that the transformation of the global system into a cohesive network of democratic institutions would help ensure that anyone born anywhere could lead a decent life. This book will appeal to all those interested in political philosophy and the processes and potential of globalization. (shrink)
Offering the most comprehensive book-length study to-date of reparation programs, this handbook contains an innovative blend of case-study analysis, thematic papers, and national legislation documents from leading scholars and practitioners. This landmark work will make a genuine contribution to the theory and practice of reparations.
Since the birth of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, in 1977, we have seen truly remarkable advances in biotechnology. We can now screen the fetus for Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and a wide range of genetic disorders. We can rearrange genes in DNA chains and redirect the evolution of species. We can record an individual's genetic fingerprint. And we can potentially insert genes into human DNA that will produce physical warning signs of cancer, allowing early detection. In fact, (...) biotechnology has progressed to such a point that virtually any kind of genetic manipulation, if not already possible, is just around the corner. But these breakthroughs also raise serious ethical and moral dilemmas that we are only now beginning to confront. In Wonderwoman and Superman, noted medical ethicist John Harris offers the first thorough analysis of the moral dilemmas created by the revolution in molecular biology. Covering a wide array of recent innovations, Harris discusses, for example, the moral decisions involved and the consequences of creating egg and embryo banks. Who should be allowed to use such resources? Should recipients be screened? Should such banks be open for public or private use? And does it cheapen life to make embryos available for sale? In another chapter, Harris examines the question of conceiving children chiefly for organ donation, focusing on the recent case of a woman who wanted to have a second child to provide a bone marrow donor for her first child sick with leukemia (she intended to abort the fetus if its bone marrow did not genetically match that of her living child). In this case, the medical staff had to decide whether they should perform in-vitro fertilization, knowing that the mother did not satisfy the clinic's criteria (there was no father), and also knowing the potential for abortion. Discussing the ethics of the mother's choice and the clinic's choice, Harris asks whether it is morally correct to create a child as an organ donor, whether the future child would suffer, whether it is worth any suffering to be born, and who has the right to weigh the various factors (both moral and physiological) involved in making these decisions. Delving into a multitude of issues such as when life begins, when suffering is needless, and whether we should play God, Wonderwoman and Superman provides not only a thought-provoking inquiry into the potential and actual ethical dilemmas created by the many advances in biotechnology, but challenges us to learn to choose responsibly and to face the moral implications of the choices that confront us. (shrink)
In The Ethical Primate, renowned philosopher Mary Midgley tackles important questions about human freedom and morality. Scientists and philosophers have found it difficult to understand how each human being can be both a living part of the natural world and, at the same time, a genuinely free agent. Midgley explores their responses to this seeming paradox and argues that our evolutionary origin, properly understood, explains why human freedom and morality have come about.
The new dilemmas and responsibilities which arise in bioethics both because of the unprecedented pace of scientific development and of growing moral pluralism are more and more difficult to grapple with. At the ‘global’ level, the call for the universal nature at least of some fundamental moral values and principles is often being contended as a testament of arrogance, if not directly as a new kind of subtler imperialism. The humanrights framework itself, which provided the (...) basis for the most relevant international declarations and documents, is not exempt from the charge. However, the refusal of a top-down conception of the universal as a sort of product for exportation should not be confused with a relativistic landscape, where all the cows can be indifferently black or white. This contribution aims at outlining an approach, which reconciles universalism as enshrined in founding humanrights declarations with respect for cultural diversity. In order to do so, two conceptual frameworks are discussed: the ‘tool-kit’ model and the morals/ethics difference. The example of the right to quality health care confirms the argument that striking a balance between cherishing pluralism and defending some fundamental rights and obligations does not amount to an assertion of moral imperialism. (shrink)
Is there an approach to humanrights that justifies rights-allocating moral-political principles as principles that are equally acceptable by everyone to whom they apply, while grounding them in categorical, reasonably non-rejectable foundations? The paper examines Rainer Forst’s constructivist attempt to provide such an approach. I argue that his view, far from providing an alternative to “ethical” approaches, depends for its own reasonableness on a reasonably contestable conception of the good, namely, the good of constitutive discursive (...) standing. This suggests a way in which constructivism about humanrights might be able to coherently and plausibly negotiate the tension between the scope, the depth and the strength of discursive inclusion: the justification of rights-allocating moral-political principles needs to be premised on an “ethical”, perfectionist defense of the good of constitutive discursive standing. (shrink)
A dialogical approach to understanding Islamic ethics rejects objectivist methods in favor of a conversational model in which participants accept each other as rational moral agents. Hans-Georg Gadamer asserts the importance of agreement upon a subject matter through conversation as a means to gaining insight into other persons and cultures, and Jürgen Habermas stresses the importance of fairness in dialogue. Using humanrights as a subject matter for engaging in dialogue with Islamic scholars, Muslim perspectives on issues (...) such as democracy, toleration, and freedom of conscience emerge. A capabilities approach to humanrights, such as that developed by Martha Nussbaum, enables the coexistence of multiple religious ethical visions while insisting upon the need to protect and nurture essential human abilities. (shrink)
Recent developments in the Arab world reopen one of the most fertile debate topics in international relations theory: the universal nature of the concept “fundamental humanrights” and their content. The perspectives are different, being influenced by an ideological background, especially theological, apparently contradictory, affecting the positions of major international actors, stimulating the revival of controversies on major differences between Western world and the developing societies. Through a balanced analysis, specific to critical postmodernism, of the way each civilization (...) (according to Samuel Huntington) relates to the human being and to its place within its own legal architecture, one can notice that, beyond any differences, joint elements can be identified for further integration into a common fundamental text conferring the consensual universality indispensable to such an important principle. (shrink)
My professional interest originally focused on curriculum planning and development, but for the last 30 years I have been researching, publishing and teaching in the field of humanrights education. Suddenly, I became a humanrights educator. Suddenly? No, nothing in our personal and professional life is the result of an abrupt occurrence. We are subjects of a particular history, a succession of events and narratives, located in time, space and circumstances. I constructed myself, consciously or (...) unconsciously, as a humanrights educator as a consequence of many personal factors. Being the son of the first Rabbi in Chile, I felt, at a very early age, that I was different and suffered from discriminatory behaviour, prejudice and intolerance. In addition, I started to learn about the Holocaust. I lived in a poor neighbourhood and poverty had a profound impact on me. During the 1960s and 1970s many political changes took place in Chile. Severe humanrights violations occurred, not only in Chile but also in the different contexts of many other Latin American countries. I became much more aware of, and sensitive to, humanrights and their ethical implications. I decided to make use of my educational knowledge towards recovering democracy. I became a strong supporter of humanrights education as an ethical and moral imperative throughout Latin America. (shrink)
Since its inception as an international requirement to protect patients and healthy volunteers taking part in medical research, informed consent has become the primary consideration in research ethics. Despite the ubiquity of consent, however, scholars have begun to question its adequacy for contemporary biomedical research. This book explores this issue, reviewing the application of consent to genetic research, clinical trials, and research involving vulnerable populations. For example, in genetic research, information obtained from an autonomous research participant may have significant bearing (...) on the interests of family members who have not consented to the study. This casts doubt on the adequacy of consent for such studies. This book also questions the assumptions that informed consent is essential and that it satisfactorily protects the principle of individual autonomy. It reviews recent empirical studies that challenge the possibility of truly informed consent and highlights the extent to which consent is governed by social norms and expectations. It also investigates how consent might be of secondary importance in some circumstances, for example when a research project appears to protect a public or community interest. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there is no moral justification for the conviction that rights should be reserved to humans. In particular, I reject James Griffin’s view on the moral relevance of the cultural dimension of humanity. Drawing from the original notion of individual right introduced in the Middle Ages and the development of this notion in the eighteenth century, I emphasise that the practice of according rights is justified by the interest in safeguarding the (...) powers of reason and autonomy that some individuals can exercise. Since we are in no position to rule out that non-humans can exercise these capacities, I conclude that rights should not be reserved to humans. This will lead to a reformulation of the reasons why so-called ‘marginal’ humans and non-human animals can be granted some basic rights. Being human is neither necessary nor sufficient for holding rights. All individuals, human or non-human, who can exercise reason and autonomy to some extent can be accorded basic rights in virtue of their having morally relevant preferences. (shrink)
International business faces a host of difficult moral conflicts. It is tempting to think that these conflicts can be morally resolved if we gained full knowledge of the situations, were rational enough, and were sufficiently objective. This paper explores the view that there are situations in which people in business must confront the possibility that they must compromise some of their important principles or values in order to protect other ones. One particularly interesting case that captures this kind of (...) situation is that of Google and its operations in China. In this paper, I examine the situation Google faces as part of the larger issue of moral compromise and integrity in business. Though I look at Google, this paper is just as much about the underlying or background views Google faces that are at work in business ethics. In the process, I argue the following: First, the framework Google has used to respond to criticisms of its actions does not successfully or obviously address the important ethical issues it faces. Second, an alternative ethical account can be presented that better addresses these ethical and humanrights questions. However, this different framework brings the issue of moral compromise to the fore. This is an approach filled with dangers, particularly since it is widely held that one ought never to compromise one’s moral principles. Nevertheless, I wish to propose that there may be a place for moral compromise in business under certain conditions, which I attempt to specify. (shrink)
The ?West? is inclined to blame Asian countries, especially China, for its disrespect of humanrights without looking at it's own record of humanrights violations! This makes a fair dialogue very difficult till improbable. Social work on the international level can't avoid this dialogue if it wants to live up to its internationally consensual documents which all refer to humanrights. The thesis of this article is, that it will only succeed, if it (...) clarifies some philosophical and ethical premisses of so-called ?western? and ?oriental/asian? thinking. Thus, the article tries to show that concepts of ?holism?, ?atomism/individualism? and ?systemic thinking? might be helpful for a ?rejonder? and discussion platform for the analysis of different modes of thinking about ethical issues. A systemic approach tries to avoid the problematic and combine the positive aspects of individualistic and holistic approaches. An example for this combination is the ?Asian HumanRights Charter: A People's Charter? of 1998 which doesn't divide the freedom and participatory versus social rights, a divide which is typical ? and problematic ? for the western version. (shrink)
This volume provides a general overview of the basic ethical and philosophical issues of animal rights. It asks questions such as: Do animals have moralrights? If so, what does this mean? What sorts of mental lives do animals have, and how should we understand welfare? By presenting models for understanding animals' moral status and rights, and examining their mental lives and welfare, David DeGrazia explores the implications for how we should treat animals in (...) connection with our diet, zoos, and research. Animal Rights distinguishes itself by combining intellectual rigor with accessibility, offering a distinct moral voice with a non-polemical tone. (shrink)
Advances in genetic technology in general and medical genetics in particular will enable us to intervene in the process of human biological development which extends from zygotes and embryos to people. This will allow us to control to a great extent the identities and the length and quality of the lives of people who already exist, as well as those we bring into existence in the near and distant future. Genes and Future People explores two general philosophical questions, one (...) metaphysical, the other moral: (1) How do genes, and different forms of genetic intervention (gene therapy, genetic enhancement, presymptomatic genetic testing of adults, genetic testing of preimplantation embryos), affect the identities of the people who already exist and those we bring into existence? and (2) How do these interventions benefit or harm the people we cause to exist in the near future and those who will exist in the distant future by satisfying or defeating their interest in having reasonably long and disease-free lives? Genes and Future People begins by explaining the connection between genes and disease, placing genetic within a framework of evolutionary biology. It then discusses such topics as how genes and genetic intervention influence personal identity, what genetic testing of individuals and the knowledge resulting from it entails about responsibility to others who may be at risk, as well as how gene therapy and genetic enhancement can affect the identities of people and benefit or harm them. Furthermore, it discusses various moralaspects of cloning human beings and body parts. Finally, it explores the metaphysical and moral implications of genetic manipulation of the mechanisms of aging to extend the human life span.The aim Genes and Future People is to move philosophers, bioethicists, and readers in general to reflect on the extent to which genes determine whether we are healthy or diseased, our identities as persons, the quality of our lives, and our moral obligations to future generations of people. (shrink)
With the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of HumanRights, the idea of humanrights came into its own on the world stage. More than anything, the Declaration was a response to the Holocaust, to both its perpetrators and the failure of the rest of the world adequately to come to the aid of its victims. Since that year, however, we have seen many more cases of mass murder. Think of China, Bali, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, the former (...) Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and now Darfur. Of course one could always claim that such horrors would have been even more frequent if not for the Declaration. But I want to argue otherwise. For I believe that humanrights have contributed to making mass murder more, rather than less, likely. To be clear, my concern is specifically with the language of humanrights, not the values it expresses, values which I certainly endorse. The problem with this language is that it is abstract. And the problem with abstraction is that it demotivates, it 'unplugs' us from the 'moral sources,' as Charles Taylor would call them, which empower us to act ethically. After showing why, I then go on to describe how the rise of humanrights has constituted an ironic tragedy of sorts for those philosophers who have attempted to lend it intellectual support. On the whole, they may be divided into two groups. One, led by cosmopolitans such as Martha Nussbaum and Thomas Pogge, tries to interlock rights within systematic theories of justice, thus fixing the priorities between them. The other, led by value pluralists such as Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire, and Bernard Williams, rejects such theories as infeasible and asserts that the best we can do when rights conflict is to negotiate. Yet both approaches, I argue, are counter-productive. (shrink)
In his book, World Poverty and HumanRights, Pogge sets out to articulate an approach to basic justice that is inversal and cosmopolitan. This notion of justice is to be articulated through the language of humanrights. Pogge’s arguments about justice, moral universalism and cosmopolitanism are impressive and reward serious study. It is to be hoped. indeed, that many aspects of his argument might be adopted by the elite ruling classes of world politics; they (...) have much to offer in the project of creating a world that is humane for all.The issues that I have raised in the foregoing argument however are central to the integrity of Pogge’s project. I have argued, in sum that it is not possible to advance a program for the expansion of justice and the implementation of humanrights in world politics without making an appeal to a specific account of the nature of justice and of humanrights. The account that informs Pogge’s argument is that of political liberalism, and this is an account that has much in its favor as a preferred vehicle for justice in world politics. However, this account makes itself vulnerable when it argues for universal principles without acknowledging their partisan and normative base. My argument has been that this issue is at the center of Pogge’s attempt to isolate the conception of humanrights he explicates, which he wants to serve as the language for his global ethical universalism, from the ontological affirmations which make that conception of humanrights possible, and which of necessity tie humanrights to a specific conception of the nature of the good for human persons and groups. The attempt to establish a single, universal criterion of justice, and to express it in the language of humanrights, is undermined from within for as long as it fails to engage with ontological concerns. (shrink)