Using the accounts of Gewirth and Griffin as examples, the article criticises accounts of humanrights as those are understood in humanrights practices, which regard them as rights all human beings have in virtue of their humanity. Instead it suggests that (with Rawls) humanrights set the limits to the sovereignty of the state, but criticises Rawls conflation of sovereignty with legitimate authority. The resulting conception takes humanrights, like (...) other rights, to be contingent on social conditions, and in particular on the nature of the international system. (shrink)
Despite the prevalence of humanrights discourse, the very idea or concept of a human right remains obscure. In particular, it is unclear what is supposed to be special or distinctive about humanrights. In this paper, we consider two recent attempts to answer this challenge, James Griffin’s “personhood account” and Charles Beitz’s “practice-based account”, and argue that neither is entirely satisfactory. We then conclude with a suggestion for what a more adequate account might look (...) like – what we call the “structural pluralist account” of humanrights. (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)
This paper defends several highly revisionary theses about humanrights. Section 1 shows that the phrase ?humanrights? refers to two distinct types of moral claims. Sections 2 and 3 argue that several longstanding problems in humanrights theory and practice can be solved if, and only if, the concept of a ?human right? is replaced by two more exact concepts: International humanrights: moral claims sufficient to warrant coercive domestic and (...) international social protection. Domestic humanrights: moral claims sufficient to warrant coercive domestic social protection but only non-coercive international action. Section 3 then argues that because coercion is central to both types of humanrights, and coercion is a matter of justice, the traditional view of humanrights ? that they are normative entitlements prior to and independent of substantive theories of justice ? is incorrect. Humanrights must instead be seen as emerging from substantive theories of domestic and international justice. Finally, Section 4 uses this reconceptualization to show that only a few very minimal claims about international humanrights are presently warranted. Because international humanrights are rights of international justice, but theorists of international justice disagree widely about the demands of international justice, much more research on international justice is needed ? and much greater agreement about international justice should be reached ? before anything more than a very minimal list of international humanrights can be justified. (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)
Hannah Arendt and The Phenomenology of HumanRights examines contemporary debates on the foundations of humanrights through the lens of Arendt's writings, showing how Arendt’s phenomenological standpoint, unique within these debates, is able to shed new light a number of problems within humanrights theory.
This is a review article of Charles Beitz's 2009 book on the philosophy of humanrights, The Idea of HumanRights. The article provides a charitable overview of the book's main arguments, but also raises some doubts about the depth of the distinction between Beitz's 'practical' approach to humans rights and its 'naturalistic' counterparts.
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)
A. Belden Fields invites people to think more deeply about humanrights in this book in an attempt to overcome many of the traditional arguments in the humanrights literature. He argues that humanrights should be reconceptualized in a holistic way to combine philosophical, historical, and empirical-practical dimensions. Humanrights are viewed not as a set of universal abstractions but rather as a set of past and ongoing social practices rooted in (...) the claims and struggles of peoples against what they consider to be political, economic, or social domination. By aptly showing how a people’s fight for recognition is often closely tied to rights claims, Fields argues that these connections to identity can help bridge the gulf between universalistic and cultural relativistic arguments in the humanrights debate. (shrink)
The Challenge of HumanRights traces the history of humanrights theory from classical antiquity through the enlightenment to the modern humanrights movement, and analyses the significance of humanrights in today’s increasingly globalized world. Provides an engaging study of the origin and the philosophical and political development of humanrights discourse. Offers an original defence of humanrights. Explores the significance of humanrights in (...) the context of increasing globalisation. Confronts the major objections to humanrights, including the charge of western ethical imperialism and cultural relativism. Argues that humanrights logically culminate in an ethical cosmopolitanism to reflect the moral unity of the human race. (shrink)
Humanrights culture has often been accused of a certain imbalance. For instance, it is often said that the practitioners of humanrights (i.e., lawyers, politicians, judges, legislators, intellectual advocates, activists, etc.) are too quick to proclaim the existence of rights and too slow to define or allocate attendant duties. In this article, I address one complaint of this sort: the so-called “claimability objection” to humanrights. My central aim is to unearth some (...) of the conceptual complexity underlying that objection. What that analysis reveals, in the broadest of terms, is that claimability is not the obedient philosophical concept that it has been made out to be. On the contrary, its invocation has ramifications that, I suggest, have not been adequately foreseen by its main proponents. To illustrate this point I focus specifically on the work of Onora O’Neill, whose claimability-based critique of welfare rights is at the very center of contemporary debates about this topic. I shall, in particular, challenge two important aspects of O’Neill’s critique. First, in Section III, I question its narrowness. O’Neill understands the claimability of a right to depend on the identification of its duty-bearers. But if we attend to the basic logic of her discussion, it becomes clear that the claimability of a right depends on more than just that; indeed, a whole range of factors – including the determinacy of a right’s weight, content, and holders – become relevant. This undermines O’Neill’s assertion that only certain kinds of purported humanrights (i.e., second-generation welfare, as opposed to first-generation liberty rights) are subject to the claimability objection. Moreover, it shifts the natural target of that objection over to the more expansive category of abstract rights. The second challenge that I put to O’Neill’s critique raises fundamental doubts about whether claimability (as O’Neill herself understands it) is a necessary feature of rights at all. This I do in Section V. But before I get to that I discuss (in Section IV) different ways in which the domestic, regional, and international legal practice of humanrights is less opaque about deontic matters than might appear at first glance. This claim, I suggest, not only provides us with a possible (if ultimately fragile) way of responding to O’Neill’s critique, it illustrates both the instructive and expressive value that legal practices can have for moral thinking about humanrights. Lastly, in Section VI, I reflect more generally on the role of abstraction in the theory and practice of humanrights. Thus, by allaying claimability-based concerns about abstraction in Section V, and by illustrating some of the positive functions of abstraction in Section VI, I hope to show that abstract rights are not only coherent but also useful and important. (shrink)
This book presents a historical perspective on patterns of humanrights abuse in Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua and incorporates international relations in to the traditional theories of state repression found within the social sciences.
In this essay I analyze some conceptual difficulties associated with the demand that global institutions be made more democratically accountable. In the absence of a world state, it may seem inconsistent to insist that global institutions be accountable to all those subject to their decisions while also insisting that the members of these institutions, as representatives of states, simultaneously remain accountable to the citizens of their own countries for the special responsibilities they have towards them. This difficulty seems insurmountable in (...) light of the widespread acceptance of a state-centric conception of humanrights, according to which states and only states bear primary responsibility for the protection of their citizens' rights. Against this conception, I argue that in light of the current structures of global governance the monistic ascription of humanrights obligations to states is no longer plausible. Under current conditions, states are bound to fail in their ability to protect the humanrights of their citizens whenever potential violations either stem from transnational regulations or are perpetrated by non-state actors. In order to show the plausibility of an alternative, pluralist conception of humanrights obligations I turn to the current debate among scholars of international law regarding the humanrights obligations of non-state actors. I document the various ways in which these obligations could be legally entrenched in global financial institutions such as the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. These examples indicate feasible methods for strengthening the democratic accountability of these institutions while also respecting the accountability that participating member states owe to their own citizens. I conclude that, once the distinctions between the obligations to respect, protect and fulfill humanrights are taken into account, no conceptual difficulty remains in holding states and non-state actors accountable for their respective humanrights obligations. (shrink)
Many philosophers have criticized John Rawls’s Law of Peoples. However, often these criticisms take it for granted that the moral conclusions drawn in A Theory of Justice are superior to those in the former book. In my view, however, Rawls comes to many of his “conclusions” without too many actual inferences. More precisely, my argument here is that if one takes Rawls’s premises and the assumptions made about the original position(s) seriously and does in fact think them through to their (...) logical conclusions, both A Theory of Justice and The Law of Peoples have abysmally counterintuitive and immoral implications. These implications comprise, among other things, the justifiability of slavery, the denial of humanrights and the permissibility of genocide. (shrink)
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)
In this paper an attempt is made to draw out an outline of present social evils generated from Caste-Discrimination and this system is the misinterpreted conception of Varynavyavastha where the four varnas are divided on the basis of division of labour and since history it converted to caste system. With these HumanRights issues are directly related and humanrights are an important concept in civilized and democratic society. But from the part of Government and judiciary (...) the above said both are separated and cannot be treated equally and it can be see in the latest examples of inhuman acts with Dalits in Haryana. First this paper also highlights the schemes and policies of the government to eliminate this system and their failure in part of unavailability to socially deprived persons. These policies are only in the paper form and cannot become part of practical concerns. Secondly these problems related to caste- discrimination can be solved only by social awareness and social interaction among different communities but not only by policies and schemes. Since independence there is not a single case of social awareness programme conducted by political parties and government and this become the root cause of social inequality till now. The present examples of violation and injustice with poor and deprived persons show the failure of our judiciary system and so-called democratic & secular society. With this background some recommendations will be discussed in the last of the paper so that a humane society can be modeled according to our constitutional commitment of social equality, freedom and brotherhood. (shrink)
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)
According to Doris Schroeder, the view that humanrights derive from human dignity should be rejected. She thinks that this is the case for three different reasons: the first has to do with the fact that the dominant concept of dignity is based on religious beliefs which will do no justificatory work in a secular society; the second is that the dominant secular view of dignity, which is the Kantian view, does not provide us with a justification (...) of humanrights, i.e. rights all humans have; and the third reason has to do with the fact that dignity is understood in too many different ways to provide us with a justification of humanrights. It is argued in this paper that none of these reasons for separating humanrights from human dignity is convincing. It is true, it will be argued, that some accounts of dignity will not be successful in justifying humanrights. But there is no reason to assume that no account of human dignity is capable of doing this. In the final part of the paper a concept of human dignity is presented that could indeed provide us with a justificatory basis for humanrights. (shrink)
Knowledge transmission and universality of man in global society -- The other and the paradoxes of universalism -- Religion, humanrights, and political conflicts -- Europe : common values and a common identity -- The public sphere and political space -- America and Europe : Carl Schmitt and Alexis de Tocqueville -- Identity and humanrights : a glance at Europe from afar -- Humanrights, universalism, and cosmopolitanism.
Large-scale transnational land acquisition of agricultural land in the global south by rich corporations or countries raises challenging normative questions. In this article, the author critically examines and advocates a humanrights approach to these questions. Mutually reinforcing, policies, governance and practice promote equitable and secure land tenure that in turn, strengthens other humanrights, such as to employment, livelihood and food. Humanrights therefore provide standards for evaluating processes and outcomes of transnational land (...) acquisitions and, thus, for determining whether they are ethically unacceptable land grabs. A variety of recent policy initiatives on the issue have evoked humanrights, most centrally through the consultation and negotiation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests concluded in 2012. However, a case of transnational land appropriation illustrates weak host and investor state enforcement of humanrights, leaving the parties to in interaction with local groups in charge of protecting humanrights. Generally, we have so far seen limited direct application of humanrights by states in their governance of transnational land acquisition. Normative responses to transnational land acquisition—codes of conduct, principles of responsible agricultural investment or voluntary guidelines—do not in themselves secure necessary action and change. Applying humanrights approaches one must therefore also analyze the material conditions, power relations and political processes that determine whether and how women and men can secure the humanrights accountability of the corporations and governments that promote large-scale, transnational land acquisition in the global south. (shrink)
The Mental Capacity Bill endangers the vulnerable by inviting humanrights abuse. It is perhaps these grave deficiencies that prompted the warnings of the 23rd Report of the Joint Committee on HumanRights highlighting the failure of the legislation to supply adequate safeguards against Articles 2, 3 and 8 incompatibilities. Further, the fact that it is the mentally incapacitated as a class that are thought ripe for these and other kinds of intervention, highlights the Article 14 (...) discrimination inherent in this and related legislation. The financial, medical and research interests that underpin the legislation highlight how the legilsation endangers the ulnerable. It appears to be both a responsibility shifting exercise. Most alarmingly of all, efforts to permit non-therapeutic research on the non-consenting vulnerable as well as sterilisation and abortion on those who do not consent suggest that the legislation heralds a new era o gross humanrights abuse in instutions around the UK. (shrink)
The changing situation in South Africa and Eastern Europe prompts Charles Villa-Vicencio to investigate the implications of transforming liberation theology into a theology of reconstruction and nation-building. Such a transformation, he argues, requires theology to become an unambiguously interdisciplinary study. This book explores the encounter between theology, on the one hand, and constitutional writing, law-making, humanrights, economics, and the freedom of conscience on the other. Placing his discussion in the context of the South African struggle, the author (...) compares this situation to that in Eastern Europe, and the challenge of what is happening in these situations is identified for contexts where "the empire has not yet crumbled.". (shrink)
In March 1993, in preparation for the United Nations World Conference on HumanRights, representatives from the states of Asia gathered in Bangkok to formulate their position on this emotive issue. The result of their discussions was the Bangkok declaration. They accepted the concept of universal standards in humanrights, but declared that these standards could not overridet he unique Asian regional and cultural differences, the requirements of economic development, nor the privileges of sovereignty. : The (...) difficult and powerful dichotomies raised in Bangkok, and their particular relevance to China, are explored in the ten essays contained in this book. The underlying political, cultural, philosophical, legal and economic issues which cut across the humanrights spectrum are also considered. The writiers themselves are Chinese and Hong Kong scholars, or leading political figures who are involved in the current humanrights debate. The ultimate goal of the book is not to resolve the issues raised in Bangkok, but to expose some contours of discussion in a way that is fresh and accessible. (shrink)
This article builds upon on Crane, Matten and Moon's extended view of corporate citizenship to discuss the actual and potential role of private business with regard to specific humanrights in developing countries. A set of analytical benchmarks will be proposed to assess corporate behaviour with regard to these rights. A number of empirical cases illustrate the applicability and constraints of these benchmarks and help to enhance corporate citizenship thinking and theory.
Beginning with the support given by religious groups to humanitarian intervention for the protection of basic humanrights in the debates of the 1990s, this essay examines the use of the humanrights idea in relation to international law on armed conflict, the “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine, and the development of the idea of sovereignty associated with the “Westphalian system” of international order, identifying a dilemma: that the idea of humanrights undergirds both the (...) principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states and the idea of an international responsibility for humanitarian intervention in cases of oppression. The pre-Westphalian conception of sovereignty as moral responsibility for the common good is then examined as an alternative that avoids this dilemma, and the essay concludes by suggesting that religious ethics also has other resources that, if used, may shed useful light on resolving this problem. (shrink)
Is it possible, given culturally incongruent perspectives, to validate any common standards of behavior? Is it possible to implement humanrights in societies without incorporating the idea into their fabric of culture? Is it possible for cultural communities to survive in the contemporary world without rights protection? This book addresses questions like these in the light of an inventive and original understanding of culture.
The first IVF baby was born in the 1970s. Less than 20 years later, we had cloning and GM food, and information and communication technologies had transformed everyday life. In 2000, the human genome was sequenced. More recently, there has been much discussion of the economic and social benefits of nanotechnology, and synthetic biology has also been generating controversy. This important volume is a timely contribution to increasing calls for regulation - or better regulation - of these and other (...) new technologies. Drawing on an international team of legal scholars, it reviews and develops the role of humanrights in the regulation of new technologies. Three controversies at the intersection between humanrights and new technology are given particular attention. First, how the expansive application of humanrights could contribute to the creation of a brave new world of choice, where human dignity is fundamentally compromised; second, how new technologies, and our regulatory responses to them, could be a threat to humanrights; and, third, how humanrights could be used to create better regulation of these technologies. (shrink)
In his most recent book, National Responsibility and Global Justice, David Miller presents an account of humanrights grounded on the idea of basic human needs. Miller argues that his account can overcome what he regards as a central problem for humanrights theory: the need to provide a ‘non-sectarian’ justification for humanrights, one that does not rely on reasons that people from non-liberal societies should find objectionable. The list of human (...)rights that Miller’s account generates is, however, minimal when compared to those found in humanrights documents, such as the Universal Declaration of HumanRights and the European Convention on HumanRights. This article argues that contrary to what Miller claims, his account is ‘sectarian’, since it relies on reasons that some non-liberals should find objectionable given their divergent values. It goes on to question whether ‘sectarianism’, as Miller defines it, is, in any case, a problem for humanrights theory. The article concludes that Miller provides us with no reason to abandon commitment to a more extensive list of humanrights. (shrink)
Genocide is evil or nothing could be. It raises a host of questions about humanity, rights, justice, and reality, which are key areas of concern for philosophy. Strangely, however, philosophers have tended to ignore genocide. Even more problematic, philosophy and philosophers bear more responsibility for genocide than they have usually admitted. In Genocide and HumanRights: A Philosophical Guide, an international group of twenty-five contemporary philosophers work to correct those deficiencies by showing how philosophy can and should (...) repsond to genocide, particularly in ways that defend humanrights. (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)
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.
Personal narratives have become one of the most potent vehicles for advancing humanrights claims across the world. HumanRights and Narrated Lives explores what happens when autobiographical narratives are produced, received, and circulated in the field of humanrights. It asks how personal narratives emerge in local settings how international rights discourse enables and constrains individual and collective subjectivities in narration how personal narratives circulate and take on new meanings in new contexts (...) and how and under what conditions they feed into, affect, and are affected by the reorganization of politics in post-cold war, postcolonial, globalizing humanrights contexts. (shrink)
Citizenship and humanrights in tension : changes, issues and approaches -- Privileging humanrights -- The illusive promise of humanrights -- Politics and legalism -- Back to citizenship, an agonistic conception.
Introduction: humanrights in healthcare -- A right to treatment? the allocation of resouces in the National Health Service -- Ensuring quality healthcare: an issue of rights or duties? -- Autonomy and consent in medical treatment -- Treating incompetent patients: beneficence, welfare and rights -- Medical confidentiality and the right to privacy -- Property right in the body -- Medically assisted conception and a right to reproduce? -- Termination of pregnancy: a conflict of rights -- (...) Pregnancy and freedom of choice -- The right to life at the end of life -- The law and ethics of assisted dying: is there a right to die? (shrink)
One of the most high-profile debates in Chinese philosophy concerns the compatibility of human and individual rights with basic Confucian doctrines and practices. Defenders of the incompatibilist view argue that rights are inconsistent with Confucianism because rights are (necessarily) role-independent obligations and entitlements, whereas Confucians think that all obligations and entitlements are role-dependent. Two other arguments have to do with the practice of claiming one's own rights, holding (a) that claiming one's rights undercuts family-like (...) community bonds and (b) that giving everyone license to claim her own rights is incompatible with certain hierarchical social structures that Confucians value. In this essay, I show that these arguments are too crudely formulated to identify the real points of contention with rights compatibilism, and then develop versions of two of the arguments which, when properly qualified, pose a more serious challenge for those who think rights and a license to claim one's own rights are consistent with core Confucian views. (shrink)
Critics of state sovereignty have typically challenged the state’s right to close its borders to foreigners by appeal to the liberal egalitarian discourse of humanrights. According to the liberty argument, freedom of movement is a basic human right; according to the equality or justice argument, open borders are necessary to reduce global poverty and inequality, both matters of global justice. I argue that humanrights considerations do indeed mandate borders considerably more open than is (...) the norm today but that, no matter how radical in its critique of state sovereignty, humanrights discourse fails to address a crucial feature of this ideology. It is not enough to engage in a substantive moral argument about what the state’s moral duties are. One must also address the procedural political question of who has the legitimate authority to decide what rights and duties to act on in cases of disagreement. In addition to humanrights discourse, I argue, border activists must also draw on the challenge posed to the doctrine of state sovereignty by the democratic theory of popular sovereignty. According to democratic theory, the people subject to the state’s coercive exercise of political power, and not the state itself, is ultimately the sovereign arbiter of political questions. And because foreigners are subject to the state’s border laws, democratic theory requires granting them a participatory say in setting those laws. (shrink)
There are three major reasons that ideas associated with ubuntu are often deemed to be an inappropriate basis for a public morality. One is that they are too vague, a second is that they fail to acknowledge the value of individual freedom, and a third is that they a fit traditional, small-scale culture more than a modern, industrial society. In this article, I provide a philosophical interpretation of ubuntu that is not vulnerable to these three objections. Specifically, I construct a (...) moral theory grounded on southern African worldviews, one that suggests a promising new conception of human dignity. According to this conception, typical human beings have a dignity in virtue of their capacity for community, understood as the combination of identifying with others and exhibiting solidarity with them, where humanrights violations are egregious degradations of this capacity. I argue that this account of humanrights violations straightforwardly entails and explains many different elements of South Africa’s Bill of Rights and naturally suggests certain ways of resolving contemporary moral dilemmas in South Africa and elsewhere relating to land reform, political power and deadly force. (shrink)
I seek to advance enquiry into the philosophical question of in virtue of what human beings have a dignity of the sort that grounds humanrights. I first draw on values salient in sub-Saharan African moral thought to construct two theoretically promising conceptions of human dignity, one grounded on vitality, or liveliness, and the other on our communal nature. I then argue that the vitality conception cannot account for several humanrights that we intuitively (...) have, while the community conception can do so. I conclude that, of plausible theories of human dignity with an African pedigree, the field ought to favour a community-based view and critically compare it in future work with the Kantian, autonomy-based view that dominates Western thinking about dignity. (shrink)
In this article I spell out a conception of dignity grounded in African moral thinking that provides a plausible philosophical foundation for humanrights, focusing on the particular human right not to be executed by the state. I first demonstrate that the South African Constitutional Court’s sub-Saharan explanations of why the death penalty is degrading all counterintuitively entail that using deadly force against aggressors is degrading as well. Then, I draw on one major strand of Afro-communitarian thought (...) to develop a novel conception of dignity as the view that what is special and inviolable about human nature is our capacity for harmonious relationships. I argue that a principle of respect for the dignity of such a capacity entails that the death penalty is an indignity but that deadly force in self- or other-defense need not be, and I contend that this African- inspired principle promises to do no worse than the more Western, Kantian principle of respect for autonomy at accounting for a broad range of humanrights. (shrink)
In the transition from a repressive to a democratic society, the successor government faces the problem of how to deal with grave humanrights violations such as killings and torture committed under its predecessor. This paper analyzes the dilemma a new government may encounter when it attempts to prosecute and punish those found responsible. On one hand, trials of chargeable officers may be able to prevent humanrights abuses in the future and to facilitate instituting or (...) restoring democracy. On the other, in the case that there were no legal rules definitively prohibiting the abuses committed by these officers, the trials require ex post facto laws, which breach the principle of nulla poena sine lege, and more generally violate the rule of law. These retroactive laws not only break legal predictability but treat individuals unfairly. After identifying both the need for, and the legal and political losses incurred by such criminal trials, the author examines the claims that international law resolves the dilemma of retroactive justice or that prosecution is justified as a fulfillment of international obligation. Then the author refers to this dilemma as “dirty hands” to characterize a circumstance in which one cannot avoid using the wrong means to obtain the best ends. Such characterization has normative implications for three aspects of trials: the process of enacting retroactive laws and the process of conducting the trials; the choice of other possible legal remedies; and the principles related to reactions in the international community. (shrink)
O artigo trata da questão dos direitos humanos quanto ao potencial de consenso entre culturas através do diálogo intercultural. Trata-se de uma contribuição para superar os confrontos entre civilizações e a imposição coercitiva de direitos humanos sobre outras culturas. O paper mostra que a promoção intercultural de direitos humanos entre culturas individuais que se reconhecem mutuamente é uma das formas efetivas de resistência contra a falta de reconhecimento. Todavia, é mister uma formulação dos direitos humanos embasada nos valores de culturas (...) individuais e no diálogo entre elas. A interpretação aqui adotada é uma contribuição para criar ‘unidade na pluralidade’, i.e. uma universalidade de direitos humanos dentro da pluralidade de culturas. (shrink)
How much do animals matter--morally? Can we keep considering them as second class beings, to be used merely for our benefit? Or, should we offer them some form of moral egalitarianism? Inserting itself into the passionate debate over animal rights, this fascinating, provocative work by renowned scholar Paola Cavalieri advances a radical proposal: that we extend basic humanrights to the nonhuman animals we currently treat as "things." Cavalieri first goes back in time, tracing the roots of (...) the debate from the 1970s, then explores not only the ethical but also the scientific viewpoints, examining the debate's precedents in mainstream Western philosophy. She considers the main proposals of reform that recently have been advanced within the framework of today's prevailing ethical perspectives. Are these proposals satisfying? Cavalieri says no, claiming that it is necessary to go beyond the traditional opposition between utilitarianism and Kantianism and focus on the question of fundamental moral protection. In the case of human beings, such protection is granted within the widely shared moral doctrine of universal humanrights' theory. Cavalieri argues that if we examine closely this theory, we will discover that its very logic extends to nonhuman animals as beings who are owed basic moral and legal rights and that, as a result, humanrights are not human after all. (shrink)
The idea of “promoting democracy” is one that goes in and out of favor. With the advent of the so-called “Arab Spring”, the idea of promoting democracy abroad has come up for discussion once again. Yet an important recent line of thinking about humanrights, starting with John Rawls’s book The Law of Peoples, has held that there is no human right to democracy, and that nondemocratic states that respect humanrights should be “beyond reproach” (...) in the realm of international relations. This is, for obvious reasons, a controversial view, especially given the powerful and important arguments purporting to show that democracies do significantly better than nondemocracies in promoting internal peace and equality, and in engaging in peaceful international cooperation. Both proponents and opponents of the Rawlsian view of humanrights have argued that the view implies that democracies may not “promote democracy” in nondemocratic societies. But, given that all parties to this dispute agree that democracy is necessary for justice, and given the important instrumental goods provided by democracy, the Rawlsian view has seemed deeply implausible to many. -/- In this paper I blunt this challenge to the Rawlsian view by showing how, even if there is no human right to democracy, we may still rightfully promote democracy in a number of ways and cases. Showing this requires investigation of what it means to “promote democracy”, and a more careful inspection of when various methods of promoting democracy are appropriate than has been done by most political theorists working on humanrights. When we look carefully, we can see that in some instances acceptable forms of promoting democracy are compatible with the Rawlsian view of humanrights, and that this view is therefore not vulnerable to the “instrumentalist” challenge. We also see how, if political philosophy is to be useful, it must be less abstract and look closely at actual cases. -/- This paper posted by permission of the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. For information visit the Stanford University website. (shrink)
In recent developments in political and legal philosophy, there is a tendency to endorse minimalist lists of humanrights which do not include a right to political participation. Against such tendencies, I shall argue that the right to political participation, understood as distinct from a right to democracy, should have a place even on minimalist lists. In addition, I shall defend the need to extend the right to political participation to include participation not just in national, but also (...) in international and global governance processes. The argument will be based on a cosmopolitan conception of political legitimacy and on a political conception of humanrights that is normatively anchored in legitimacy. The central claim of my paper is that a right to political participation is necessary – but not sufficient – for political legitimacy in the global realm. (shrink)
Humanrights debates neglect social rights. This paper defends one fundamentally important, but largely unacknowledged social human right. The right is both a condition for and a constitutive part of a minimally decent human life. Indeed, protection of this right is necessary to secure many less controversial humanrights. The right in question is the human right against social deprivation. In this context, ‘social deprivation’ refers not to poverty, but to genuine, interpersonal, (...) social deprivation as a persisting lack of minimally adequate opportunities for decent human contact and social inclusion. Such deprivation is endured not only in arenas of institutional segregation by prisoners and patients held in long-term solitary confinement and quarantine, but also by persons who suffer less organised forms of persistent social deprivation. The human right against social deprivation can be fleshed out both as a civil and political right and as a socio-economic right. The defence for it faces objections familiar to humanrights theory such as undue burdensomeness, unclaimability, and infeasibility, as well as some less familiar objections such as illiberality, intolerability, and ideals of the family. All of these objections can be answered. (shrink)
Rather than to focus upon a particular ‘right to life’, we should consider what rights there are pertaining to our lives and to our living. There are different sorts. There are, for instance, rights that constitute absences of particular duties and rights that correspond to the duties of other agents or agencies. There are also natural and non-natural rights and duties. Different people in different contexts can have different moral duties and different moral rights including (...)rights to life. The question of the moral rights there are to and pertaining to life is considered with reference to James Griffin’s account of humanrights. Also considered is the question of who or what can be a bearer of them. (shrink)
Abstract: Humanrights developed in response to specific violations of human dignity, and can therefore be conceived as specifications of human dignity, their moral source. This internal relationship explains the moral content and moreover the distinguishing feature of humanrights: they are designed for an effective implementation of the core moral values of an egalitarian universalism in terms of coercive law. This essay is an attempt to explain this moral-legal Janus face of human (...)rights through the mediating role of the concept of human dignity. This concept is due to a remarkable generalization of the particularistic meanings of those "dignities" that once were attached to specific honorific functions and memberships. In spite of its abstract meaning, "human dignity" still retains from its particularistic precursor concepts the connotation of depending on the social recognition of a status—in this case, the status of democratic citizenship. Only membership in a constitutional political community can protect, by granting equal rights, the equal human dignity of everybody. (shrink)
Cosmopolitans argue that the account of humanrights and distributive justice in John Rawls's The Law of Peoples is incompatible with his argument for liberal justice. Rawls should extend his account of liberal basic liberties and the guarantees of distributive justice to apply to the world at large. This essay defends Rawls's grounding of political justice in social cooperation. The Law of Peoples is drawn up to provide principles of foreign policy for liberal peoples. Humanrights (...) are among the necessary conditions for social cooperation, and so long as a decent people respect humanrights, a common good, and the Law of Peoples, it is not the role of liberal peoples to impose upon well-ordered decent peoples liberal liberties they cannot endorse. Moreover, the difference principle is not an allocative or alleviatory principle, but applies to design property and other basic social institutions necessary to economic production, exchange and consumption. It presupposes political cooperation—a legislative body to actively apply it, and a legal system to apply it to. There is no feasible global state or global legal system that could serve these roles. Finally, the difference principle embodies a conception of democratic reciprocity that is only appropriate to cooperation among free and equal citizens who are socially productive and politically autonomous. a Footnotesa I am grateful to K. C. Tan for many helpful discussions and criticisms of this essay. I am also grateful to the other contributors to this volume for their comments, and to Ellen Paul for her many helpful suggestions in preparing the final version of this essay. (shrink)
To be justifiable, the demands of a conception of humanrights and global justice must be such that (a) they focus on the protection of important human interests, and (b) their fulfilment is feasible. I discuss the feasibility condition. I present a general account of the relation between moral desirability, feasibility and obligation within a conception of justice. I analyse feasibility, a complex idea including different types, domains and degrees. It is possible to respond in various ways (...) if the fulfilment of basic socioeconomic humanrights against severe poverty seems at first to be infeasible. (shrink)
Abstract: The cosmopolitan imagination constructs a world order in which the idea of humanrights is an operative principle of justice. Does it also construct an idealisation of humanrights? The radicality of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, as developed by Kant, lay in its analysis of the roots of organised violence in the modern world and its visionary programme for changing the world. Today, the temptation that faces the cosmopolitan imagination is to turn itself into an endorsement of (...) the existing order of humanrights without a corresponding critical analysis of the roots of contemporary violence. Is the critical idealism associated with Kantian cosmopolitanism at risk of transmutation into an uncritical positivism? We find two prevailing approaches: either the constitutional framework of the existing world order is presented as the realisation of the cosmopolitan vision, or cosmopolitanism is turned into a utopian vision of a world order in which power is subordinated to the rule of international law. I suggest that the difficulties associated with both wings of cosmopolitanism threaten the legitimacy of the project and call for an understanding and culture of humanrights that is less exclusively "conceptual" and more firmly grounded in social theory. (shrink)
The orthodox conception of humanrights holds that humanrights are moral rights possessed by all human beings simply in virtue of their humanity. In recent years, advocates of a 'political' conception of humanrights have criticized this view on the grounds that it overlooks the distinctive political function performed by humanrights. This article evaluates the arguments of two such critics, John Rawls and Joseph Raz, who characterize the (...) political function of humanrights as that of potential triggers for intervention by one society against another. (shrink)