The symbolic force of human rights

Philosophy and Social Criticism 33 (4):411-444 (2007)
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Abstract

The article deals with `The Symbolic Force of Human Rights'. First, it restricts the meaning of the term `symbolic' and of the expression `symbolic force'. Second, it discusses the concept of human rights. Having established the conceptual framework, the author goes to the core of his argument, characterizing the symbolic force of human rights as ambivalent: on one hand, it serves for their generalized affirmation and accomplishment; on the other hand, it acts as a manner of political manipulation. In this regard, the article focuses, first, on the symbolic force of human rights at the level of national states, and then within the international and worldwide context, on criticizing finally the rhetorical use of human rights by nowadays' only superpower, the USA. Key Words: human rights • interventionism • supranational and national • legal orders • symbolic force.

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