Three impo r tant tasks in the f i eld of human rights w e re achi e v ed in the Enlightenment: the secularization of ancient natural rights, d r a wing up a list of rights and co n v e r ting them into an inst r ument of political demands. Since then there has been no fu r ther theoretical d e v elopment of the idea. In our d a ys, the concept of human rights (...) is much more indete r minate than in the eighteenth centu r y because w e lack consensus about the e xamples that ma k e that abstract idea specific. In our time the task in the f ield of human rights m a y w ell be that of correcting that indete r mina c y , so completing the labour of the Enlightenment. (shrink)
The best philosophical account of human rights regards them as protections of the values we attach to human agency. The international law of human rights is embodied in a large number of declarations, conventions, covenants, charters, and judicial decisions. There are many discrepancies between the lists of human rights that emerge from these two authoritative sources. This lecture explores the significance of these discrepancies.
The article tries to qualify the contentious issue of whetherthere is a human right to welfare. Our notion of human rightsis practically without criteria for distinguishing between whenit is used correctly and when incorrectly. The first step inany satisfactory resolution of the issue about welfare rightsis to supply duly determinate criteria. I then consider thechief reasons for doubting that there is a human right towelfare, in the light of what seem to be, all things considered,the best criteria to attach to (...) the notion of a human right. (shrink)
An international line-up of fourteen distinguished philosophers presents new essays in honor of James Griffin, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford University. The essays take up topics relating to well-being and morality, prominent themes in contemporary ethics and particularly in Griffin's work. Griffin himself provides replies to these essays, offering a fascinating development of his own thinking on these topics.
James Griffin asks how, and how much, we can improve our ethical standards not lift our behaviour closer to our standards but refine the standards themselves. To give an answer to this question it is necessary to answer most of the questions of ethics. So Value Judgement includes discussion of what a good life is like, where the boundaries of the `natural world' come, how values relate to that world, how great human capacitiesthe ones important to ethicsare, and where moral (...) norms come from. -/- Throughout the book the question of what philosophy can contribute to ethics repeatedly arises. Philosophical traditions, such as most forms of utilitarianism and deontology and virtue ethics, are, Griffin contends, too ambitious. Ethics cannot be what philosophers in those traditions expect it to be because agents cannot be what their philosophies need them to be. -/- This clear, compelling, and original account of ethics will be of interest to anyone concerned with thinking about values: not only philosophers but legal, political, and economic theorists as well. L. (shrink)
"Well-being," "welfare," "utility," and "quality of life," all closely related concepts, are at the center of morality, politics, law, and economics. Griffin's book, while primarily a volume of moral philosophy, is relevant to all of these subjects. Griffin offers answers to three central questions about well-being: what is the best way to understand it, can it be measured, and where should it fit in moral and political thought. With its breadth of investigation and depth of insight, this work holds significance (...) for philosophers as well as for those interested in political and economic theory and jurisprudence. (shrink)