Reconceptualizing human rights

Journal of Global Ethics 8 (1):91-105 (2012)

Authors
Marcus Arvan
University of Tampa
Abstract
This paper defends several highly revisionary theses about human rights. Section 1 shows that the phrase 'human rights' refers to two distinct types of moral claims. Sections 2 and 3 argue that several longstanding problems in human rights theory and practice can be solved if, and only if, the concept of a human right is replaced by two more exact concepts: (A) International human rights, which are moral claims sufficient to warrant coercive domestic and international social protection; and (B) Domestic human rights, which are 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 human rights, and coercion is a matter of justice, the traditional view of human rights -- that they are normative entitlements prior to and independent of substantive theories of justice -- is incorrect. Human rights 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 human rights are presently warranted. Because international human rights 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 human rights can be justified.
Keywords human rights  coercion  international  domestic  justice
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DOI 10.1080/17449626.2011.635693
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References found in this work BETA

The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Ideal and Nonideal Theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.
The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):246-253.
National Responsibility and Global Justice.David Miller - 2008 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 11 (4):383-399.

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Citations of this work BETA

A Better, Dual Theory of Human Rights.Marcus Arvan - 2014 - Philosophical Forum 45 (1):17-47.

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