Reflections on the Foundations of Human Rights


Is there an approach to human rights 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 human rights 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.



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Thomas M. Besch
Wuhan University

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The Limits of Toleration.Rainer Forst - 2004 - Constellations 11 (3):312-325.
On Reasonableness.Margaret Moore - 1996 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 13 (2):167-178.

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