Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World (Advancing Human Rights series)

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World
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My Wishlist Sign In Join. Human Rights. Democratization and Womenas Grassroots Movements. Moral Agendas For Children's Welfare. Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Engagement in American Democracy. Morris P. Fredrick C. Poststructuralism, Citizenship and Social Policy. Shaheen Sardar Ali Javaid Rehman. What Is Justice? Classic and Contemporary Readings.

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The Foundations of a Human Right to Health: Human Rights and Bioethics in Dialogue

Historians and Race Autobiography and the Writing of History. Computer-assisted Investigative Reporting Development and Methodology. Margaret H. Robert A. Politics of Masculinities Men in Movements. Michael Alan Messner. Whether owing to reconstitution or to the lasting effects of colonization, today it is an empirical fact that this Western-originated model of the sovereign state has been reproduced around the world, with its notion of centralized power, control over resources, and agenda of 28 Prolegomena to Any Philosophical Defense of Human Rights modernization.

Postscript on Ethnocentrism Might charges of ethnocentrism against the universal validity of human rights ironically be trading upon a reverse form of orientalism? Rather than reify this unproductive dichotomy between East and West, however, genuine emancipation might require the dismantling of this dualism altogether. As with the previous case of cultural relativism, the purpose of interrogating the charge of ethnocentrism was not to establish the universal validity of human rights but only to show how such prospects remain credible.

We must accordingly resist the temptation to exaggerate what we have and have not shown, particularly in light of three possible areas of overstatement. First, we must fully acknowledge that that the universal validity of any given ethical concept cannot be established by a series of successful comparisons e. Finally, we would be wise to remember that we have largely dismantled the specter of ethnocentrism only on the most general level: we have directed nearly all of our attention to the opponent who disputes the very idea of human rights tout court, not to the more nuanced critic who alleges cultural bias in only particular interpretations of human rights.

The more sophisticated critic who accepts the universal validity of the idea of human rights but takes issue with certain articulations of what the idea entails must therefore have some way of distinguishing between the universal and the merely local. Relatedly, supporters of human rights themselves will need to be able to determine what constitutes a legitimate cultural implementation of a human right and what represents an unacceptable deviation from a globally valid standard.

Since these issues remain hotly debated even among human rights proponents themselves, we will address them later in greater detail. These premises affect their underlying rationale for human rights as well as the set of liberties or goods that will even be counted as human rights. Further distinguishing maximalist from minimalist approaches is a robust articulation of our common humanity and what it is about us as human beings that entitles us all to this special class of rights called human rights.

One of the most famous papal encyclicals of the twentieth century, Pacem in terris, could also be regarded as a maximalist document. The encyclical accordingly explicates all human rights provisions, including those pertaining to the worship of God and religion, work and welfare, property, the formation of groups, and civil and political participation, with reference to the requirements of reason via the natural law, on the one hand, and scripture and the social teachings of the Catholic Church, on the other par. They justify their endorsement of the UDHR among other universal values, standards, and attitudes by demonstrating how transreligious teachings or principles such as the Golden Rule give way to a range of universal human rights and responsibilities.

Now the Declaration Towards a Global Ethic differs from both the CDHRI and Pacem in terris in providing neither an account of who we human beings essentially are, nor a telos toward which all life is directed. As we have seen in this brief sampling, maximalist declarations of human rights collectively issue mutually incompatible claims about the theoretical foundations of human rights. Some understand this unavoidable dependence on religion in practical or existential terms, their argument being that only religion can sufficiently respond to the limit question of morality—why be moral?

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Others provide a conceptual analysis of what the very idea of human rights entails and then argue that its presuppositions remain inescapably religious. While Perry acknowledges that these documents do not specify why human beings have dignity i. What exactly does Perry mean by a religious vision or worldview?

Thus, the problem with secular persons is not that they would be fundamentally incapable of honoring human rights but that any support on their behalf would require them to live out existentially what they could not in principle affirm and thus trade upon unacknowledged religious ideas. What remains to be seen is why this is so—why Perry believes that secular analogs to religious cosmologies could not be equal to the task.

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Despite this apparently equal embrace of the religious and the secular, even the declaration gestures toward maximalism. So can one face any danger of spiritual homelessness and moral arbitrariness with pure reason? Ethical directives are unconditional only on the presupposition of an unconditional. But, like everything human, they remain conditional. In other words, religion gives an answer to the ultimate question of why we are responsible and what for.

Max Stackhouse and the Indispensability of Theology for Human Rights Max Stackhouse, a leading Christian ethicist and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, offers a maximalist account of human rights that echoes some of the previous arguments and makes some comparatively bolder claims. Why do we do that? If one has 43 Why Human Rights Need Religion a chance to exercise will, freedom is somehow there, so there is some possibility of choices there. Furthermore, people have a capacity to love, to bond with others, so the capacity to think, to will and to love are seen to be very distinctive capacities so far as we know, of the human species.

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While we previously rejected the proposal of methodologically vetoing from the list of genuine human rights any item that was not already endorsed in some fashion by every culture in the world, good protocol might still require all affected parties to be given the option to present their perspectives to others and accordingly receive a fair hearing. For the working poor, these conditions are often lacking, resulting in poverty, deteriorated self-esteem, mental and physical stress and ill-being. Others beyond the framers of the UDHR have been drawn to the idea that the concept and legal apparatus of human rights could be supported by a multiplicity of worldviews, whether secular or religious. These rights will be possessed simply in virtue of our humanity because their existence does not depend on any particular status or achievement on our part nor on any actual institutional or social recognition. Google Scholar. See also Nurser for an important discussion of the vital role that ecumenical and missions-minded Protestants and their organizations played in the formation of the Human Rights Commission and, thereafter, the UDHR.

Given longstanding disputes about religion or matters of ultimate concern, this line of inquiry remains fraught with controversy. He concludes that several religions in their present forms, including Islam, Hinduism, and certain branches of Judaism and Christianity, are unlikely to sustain a commitment to human rights in the long run, although there is potential for them all to reform Stackhouse and Healey , —95; see also Stackhouse , 26— Nicholas Wolterstorff and the Pearl of Great Price One of the most distinguished Christian philosophers of our time, Nicholas Wolterstorff, provides his own version of maximalism that shares notable similarities with the others.

Like Stackhouse, Wolterstorff not only traces the conceptual origins of human rights to key biblical claims about God and justice but he also doubts that society 45 Why Human Rights Need Religion will be able to protect them sufficiently if severed from their theological roots. While details of their genealogy differ, Wolterstorff parallels Stackhouse in tracing the deep origins of human rights not to seventeenth century discussions of political individualism in the modernizing West, nor to the nominalism of the fourteenth century following debates about apostolic poverty and private property, but to ancient themes in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures Wolterstorff a, 62—64, Popular attempts to articulate the nature of our imaging in terms of particular capacities, such as in those required to exercise the blessing or mandate of dominion over the animals, may have the virtue of ontologically distinguishing human beings from non-human animals see Gen.

Rather, his view is that all human beings have rights because of their inherent worth, and the property or relation common to all in which this worth inheres or supervenes is precisely that each is beloved by God a, 10—11, —20, — Instead, his concern is whether even their most philosophically promising candidates would be able to explain why all members of the species Homo sapiens have human rights—and have them equally. First, because the capacity for rational agency comes in degrees i.

Thus, it is not simply that capacities approaches cannot adequately protect the equal moral worth of all human beings due to the undeniable variation among our possession and use of the relevant capacities.

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But it is also that such approaches would unwittingly elevate certain nonhuman animals above the threshold of moral dignity and standing while it would simultaneously demote other human beings below it, namely those who either lack the capacities entirely or only possess them in severely diminished and thus nonimpressive ways. Wolterstorff also similarly stresses the importance of not subsuming the concept of rights into that of duties because they symmetrically evoke two different dimensions of the moral order: the patient dimension in the case of duties, when others come into our presence bearing morally legitimate claims upon us about how we are to treat them; and the agent dimension in the case of rights, as we bear morally legitimate claims upon others when we come into their presence b, ; But he also reached that conclusion because he assumed talk of inherent dignity to be equivalent to talk of sacrality, and he thereafter judged the very idea of secular sacredness to rest upon a conceptual confusion.

They need only supply an adequate secular defense of the idea of inherent human dignity from which international human rights law proclaims itself to have been derived. Thus, in contrast to the conditionality that international law affords in the implementation of the vast majority of human rights for carefully circumscribed reasons, any suggestion that all global ethical standards must be met under every imaginable scenario would seem dogmatic and severe by comparison. Beyond acknowledging the ways in which the call for absoluteness far exceeds what is required by international human rights law, it is worth noting the intuitive plausibility of, and wide-ranging public support for, conditionality in the realization of many human rights.

We might imagine a case where we affirm the universal human right to movement, assembly, and association but still permit local law enforcement authorities to diffuse a dangerous situation of overcrowding in a public space by peaceably ordering the masses to disperse. Consider the nonderogable human right to life Art. Their argument is that a political community truly threatened with annihilation should be able to directly target noncombatants for harm in order to save itself Walzer , ch.

Consider contemporary unresolved debates about the use of torture to obtain intelligence. If they were reformulated accordingly, those who would hope to justify human rights on minimalist grounds would no longer have to defend the exceptionless quality of all international human standards, only a special class of them i. Second, to return to the question of the adequacy of capacities approaches in light of the argument from marginal cases, we should note that Wolterstorff overstates his case with respect to the property or relation for which we must to look to ground the idea of natural human rights.

The idea of human rights does not require a concomitant belief in either the superiority or uniqueness of Homo sapiens sapiens in comparison to all other species. The idea entails universal recognition of a set of rights for every human being without distinction of any kind but it need not say anything else about whether other species possess moral worth or even rights of their own. I return to a discussion of the ways in which claims of animal rights do and do not affect those of human rights in chapters 5 and 6. That is, rather than ground the idea of human rights on the worth that inheres in every human being i.

Whether the maximalist challenge is understood in a religiously ecumenical or more exlusivistic fashion, human rights proponents would be wise to marshal their energies into overcoming it. In insisting that human rights are necessarily premised upon religious assumptions, maximalists have essentially implied that the legitimacy of the human rights project itself turns on the truth or at least the feasibility of those religious convictions themselves see Perry , n3. If such a maximalist conclusion were correct and widely known, however, the project of globalizing human rights would surely encounter more resistance than it already does in some quarters, particularly among those who profess different views about religion than those purportedly undergirding the entire project.

To be sure, the truth-value of the maximalist contention that the idea of human rights requires some religious cosmology or other for its very intelligibility does not turn on whether large scores of people acknowledge or repudiate that claim. Nevertheless, strong practical incentives would remain for proponents of human rights to avoid appealing to controversial and seemingly indeterminate religious premises when attempting to justify their implementation everywhere, especially if some satisfactory nonreligious basis could be offered instead in their defense.

Beyond the practical problems of acceptability that the global human rights project would encounter if maximalism were both true and widely known, there would still be the deeper issue with which all human rights proponents, including maximalists themselves, would have to contend. Because one of the most widely cherished human rights today is freedom of religion and conscience, the maximalist proclamation that the idea of human rights inescapably rests upon one or other religious premise would appear to exist in some tension with that putative genuine provision.

While it is, of course, logically possible that the right to religious freedom itself requires or presupposes a particular religious vision e. This I seek to do in chapter 5. I turn to consensusbased approaches to human rights in chapter 4. Those who were intent on preserving a strong sense of state sovereignty would have strong incentives to avoid proliferating the range of goods or liberties that would be counted as genuine human rights.

John Rawls, who is widely regarded as the most important political philosopher of the latter half of the twentieth century, offers 57 58 An Enforcement-Centered Approach, with Special Reference to John Rawls an account of human rights that essentially adopts this scenario. Although he is best known for developing principles of justice for a single liberal democratic society, his account of justice between and among peoples is more relevant for our purposes.

Peoples are free and independent, and their freedom and independence are to be respected by other peoples. Peoples are to observe treaties and undertakings. Peoples are equal and are parties to the agreements that bind them. Peoples are to observe a duty of non-intervention. Peoples have the right of self-defense but no right to instigate war for reasons other than self-defense. Peoples are to honor human rights. Peoples have a duty to assist other peoples living under unfavorable conditions that prevent their having a just or decent political and social regime.

Because decent societies are not inferior to liberal ones when evaluated from the perspective of compliance to international law i. His refusal to ground human rights on any particular religious, philosophical, or metaphysical tenet also parallels the decision of the framers of the UDHR to avoid resolving debates about religion, human nature, or the ultimate ends of social and political life. Consider the following ways in which Rawls takes pains to distinguish his approach from various maximalist alternatives: These rights do not depend on any particular comprehensive religious doctrine or philosophical doctrine of human nature.

The Law of Peoples does not say, for example, that human beings are moral persons and have equal worth in the eyes of God; or that they have certain moral and intellectual powers that entitle them to these rights. Still, the Law of Peoples does not deny these doctrines. That path the Law of Peoples does not follow. His list of real as opposed to counterfeit 63 Human Rights in the Law of Peoples Compared to International Law claims includes the group rights to be free from mass murder or genocide as well as the individual rights to life, liberty i.

While there are many possible answers, three in particular stand out for their explanatory value: a primary concern to manage relations among political communities instead of among individual human beings, a desire to avoid ethnocentrism, and an offering of a highly enforcement-centered interpretation of human rights.

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It would also render noncitizen inhabitants of liberal societies more vulnerable given their lack of a more robust conception of human rights to which they could appeal should all the rights and liberties guaranteed in their liberal democratic constitutional regimes fail to apply to them as is generally the case.

Philosopher Joseph Raz understands parsimony of this kind to be a virtue. He reasons that the strategy of identifying something as a human right only if it would functionally disable an argument against third-party interference in the otherwise sovereign affairs of a state would render the idea of human rights more determinate.

Civil rights advocates would undoubtedly object to those constraints on free speech, but they would be without the backing of international law in their critique because the Law of Peoples does not recognize any such human right to the freedom of opinion and expression see Art. To illustrate this concern, consider the Republic of Zimbabwe—a state widely considered at the time of this writing to be one of the poorest and most repressive regimes in the world. It would be an outlaw state because of the widespread international consensus that 67 Human Rights in the Law of Peoples Compared to International Law Zimbabwe for many years has been systematically violating even what Rawls would regard as urgent human rights.

Indeed, the Society of Peoples would have to truncate its critique of Zimbabwe in still other ways. On my reading on either front, Rawls leaves much to be desired. As Allen Buchanan has forcefully argued, we must maintain the conceptual and moral prioritization of individuals over states, especially since individuals in our contemporary world do not always live their whole lives in their country of origin due to the effects of globalization, migration, and mass exodus as a result of natural disasters, war, or civil strife.

Because those two concepts have historically been distinct, it remains to be seen why the answer we give to the former should determine the response we give to the latter. As we have seen, Rawls does not hold decent societies to the same standard of reasonableness that is operative in liberal societies. If Kazanistanis could rightly object to the parochial nature of liberal principles of justice, what would prevent nonliberal but nondecent peoples from analogously objecting to the ethnocentric bias of decent standards Hayfa ?

Rawls has not even attempted to justify global principles of justice to this latter group: he has situated only the representatives of liberal and decent peoples, but not all possible types, in the international original positions. Rawls sometimes writes to substantiate rather than undermine this concern that his standard of decency stems from a parochial i. And yet, because nothing in the eight principles of intersocietal justice i. Sympathetic readers of Rawls are likely to retort that the international principles of law and justice that are to regulate the Society of Peoples are not in fact ethnocentric.

I would argue that if the aforementioned criteria of exclusion redeem Rawls from the charge of ethnocentrism, they do so at the price of exposing him to new charges of either argumentative incompleteness or arbitrariness or both. Instead, Rawls implicitly acknowledges the universal validity of particular institutions: those associated with criminal justice e. Still worse is the fact that the best or strongest reason for third-party intervention in that or any other case—a desire to protect the lives and well-being of human rights victims because of their moral worth— is one that the Society of Peoples would be officially prohibited from having, much less acting upon.

Human rights would accordingly serve as a corrective and aspirational goal to the positive law and institutional structures of only two ideal types of societies in the world i. Thus, it remains an open question whether we could preserve a more extensive catalog of human rights and a broader understanding of their purposes beyond their interference-justifying role while still being able to justify them in ways that entailed minimum philosophical commitments.

This does not prevent me from being in agreement on these practical convictions with people who are certain that their way of justifying them, entirely different from mine or opposed to mine. Such ecumenicism requires the official account of human rights to be theorythin at the level of practical standards, thus allowing different parties to draw from their deeper philosophical or religiocultural beliefs in their support of those shared norms.

By permitting each community to ground human rights in their own terms and perspectives, the Western philosophical or theological commitments from which the idea of individual rights is popularly believed to have originally sprung would represent only one out of many possible ways of justifying human rights today. Ideas of consensus and attempts at consensus-building have largely been embraced for their pragmatism and respect for religious and cultural diversity.

Each would have its own way of justifying this from out of its profound background conception. We would agree on the norms while disagreeing on why they were the right norms, and we would be content to live in this consensus, undisturbed by the differences of profound underlying belief.

A Rawlsian modern liberal democracy that, for instance, legally banned the institution of slavery would provide conceptual space for its citizens to affirm the 80 Consensus-Based Approaches to Human Rights legitimacy of that prohibition out of their dissimilar—even if mutually incompatible—theoretical commitments. Its Christians might support the ban out of an interpretation of what social justice or love of neighbor requires, its Buddhists out of an ideal of compassion to all sentient beings, its Kantians out of an imperative to treat all persons as ends in themselves, its utilitarians out of a calculation that slavery would decrease rather than augment the total welfare, and so forth.

Just as Rawls argued for the legitimacy of liberal democratic values in a modern constitutional democracy in spite of the diverse and even mutually incompatible beliefs about them among its citizenry, so consensus-seekers defend the universal validity of human rights even in the absence of global agreement on their theoretical foundations by those who would nonetheless be bound by them. To repeat, whether Rawls would actually endorse the aforementioned manner of appropriating his work for human rights remains a separate matter.

In the second, the world community would presume that current international human rights law viz. The former alternative would involve attempts to isolate a common core while the latter would use a more relaxed standard of consistency. Consensus Construed Narrowly; Consensus Construed Broadly If pursued narrowly, the task of achieving cross-cultural consensus would involve identifying a set of core moral principles to which all the cultural and religious traditions of the world already subscribe to serve as the basis for an official and public catalog of human rights.

Ethicists, philosophers, theologians, jurists, sociologists, and other scholar-activists would then seek to locate affinities, analogues, or theoretical precedents between the values of the religious or cul- 83 Option 1: Consensus-Producing New Universal Human Rights Standards tural traditions under examination and contemporary human rights standards. While this broad construal of consensus would most likely yield a more extensive list of human rights protections than would the previous version, it is worth recalling that convergence on human rights norms within any given tradition would most likely remain imperfect or incomplete.

Just as we saw in chapter 1 how conceptual resources within Confucianism could be marshaled either in favor of or against contemporary human rights standards, so a mixed reception would presumably be obtained in other traditions as well. Perhaps it is because the scaled-back list would allow human rights claims to appear more urgent and serious.

It might also prevent any people, culture, or tradition from rejecting the results of consensus on complaint of ethnocentric partiality or prejudice. While both morality and prudence demand no call to arms to ever be entertained lightly, the international community need not have a restricted catalog of human rights in order to display such cautiousness. To reiterate a point made in the previous chapter, there is no reason why the international community could not retain a sufficiently robust account of human rights and exercise restraint when contemplating the use of coercive measures to defend them.

The South African representative contested the proposed right of full equality and nondiscrimination Art. To better understand this danger, recall that many of our most cherished rights today, such as freedom of religion and nondiscrimination based on sex or race, only developed after a great struggle in opposition to prevailing social views and were promulgated in advance of universal consent to their norms.

How and Why Recall that the framers of the UDHR did not provide any official theory of human rights but instead made room for a plurality of views by their silence on the question of their theoretical foundations. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. After successive deliberations upon the matter, the delegates concluded that they could refer to neither God nor nature if they were to proceed. Others beyond the framers of the UDHR have been drawn to the idea that the concept and legal apparatus of human rights could be supported by a multiplicity of worldviews, whether secular or religious.

Several declarations on global ethics have also explicitly supported human rights. An official account of human rights that could successfully distinguish their practical standards at the international level from the vast complex of principles or values that could be said to undergird them might yield several advantages. First, the often-heard charge that human rights are inextricably tied to Western liberal norms or perspectives would suffer an empirical defeat.

Something comparable, of course, could said with respect to Islam. When progressive Muslim intellectuals such as Fatima Mernissi , and Farid Esack endorse notions of equal treatment before the law in ways that do not privilege either men over women or Muslims over non-Muslims, they undercut the popular but inaccurate view that Islam is inherently inimical to a robust account of human rights see also Hassan We might regard consensus-based approaches to human rights as a compromise between maximalists and minimalists—between those who wish to embed human rights within a comprehensive conception of the good and those who hope to avoid justifying them in any official sense in terms that are likely to be regarded by others as sectarian.

One unresolved but significant issue for consensus-based approaches is why its results, however ecumenical or interreligious, should be endowed with normative force. In times past, there was arguably a cross-cultural consensus on a number of social practices that are widely seen today as inhumane and antithetical to the ethos of human rights: slavery and serfdom, the conduct of war in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the denial of equal rights and moral standing to women, severe restrictions on religious belief and exercise, widespread use of extreme forms of corporal punishment, and so forth.

What assurance, then, might those invested in consensusbased approaches to human rights be able to provide that the decisions reached today would not suffer a similar fate? While we previously rejected the proposal of methodologically vetoing from the list of genuine human rights any item that was not already endorsed in some fashion by every culture in the world, good protocol might still require all affected parties to be given the option to present their perspectives to others and accordingly receive a fair hearing.

Other baseline conditions might include impartiality, the inclusion and equal representation of all parties and not only of the currently dominant voices within them, procedural rules forbidding coercion beyond the power of rhetorical persuasion, and an acknowledgment of the goods sought or purposes behind the search for cross-cultural consensus itself. I will return to these points in the next chapter. Let us now turn to an entirely separate concern about the adequacy of this two-tiered approach to human rights as thus far described.

The 93 Option 2: Consensus-Encouraging Plural Foundations for Human Rights approach might not only achieve its desired end in granting each group conceptual space to justify human rights in their own terms but might also unintentionally substantiate their idiosyncratic implementations of human rights in ways that could compromise the universality of the standards themselves.

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An officially shared and public rationale for human rights that transcended the myriad local varieties would certainly help to address worries about ethnocentrism, arbitrariness, and special pleading by providing a principled way to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable local interpretations of human rights. It would also prove helpful in answering the question of why groups who were not yet party to the consensus on human rights should reconsider and join.

Fortunately, the two theorists who originally inspired various consensus-based approaches to human rights—John Rawls and Jacques Maritain—foresaw why an area of deeper cross-cultural agreement beyond universal standards of conduct was desirable, possible, and even necessary. They disagreed, however, on how and when to conduct such a search. They believe that they should have a more 98 Consensus-Based Approaches to Human Rights complete access to the heritage, in all its aspects and dimensions, of the civilization so painfully built by human effort. They believe that science and the arts should combine to serve alike peace and the well-being, spiritual as well as material, of all men and women without discrimination of any kind.

They believe that given that, given goodwill between nations, the power is in their hands to advance the achievement of this well-being more swiftly than in any previous age. The capability approach to human rights can be understood as an exploration of both of these Rawls- and Maritain-inspired possibilities. It is to that approach to human rights that we now turn. Simply put, this framework seeks to advance the positive freedoms of all individuals to be or to do certain things that each of us may have reason to value.

As I will demonstrate in this chapter, the capabilities framework provides constructive ways to interpret and even expand upon the discourse on human rights. Capability theorists accordingly urge us to take these personal and environmental heterogeneities into account when weighing matters of distributive justice.

These models fail to address the question of distribution among individuals when attempting to maximize happiness and also reduce the vast plurality of goods into one single metric of analysis. Of course, any theoretical model that is focused on what individuals are actually able to be or to do cannot safeguard every human capability as a matter of justice if it is to be normative or practically efficacious. Advocates of CA must accordingly determine which capabilities will be worthy of inclusion in any scheme of social protection and which will not, the latter because they are of lesser import or are even pernicious.

Bodily Health. Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; to be adequately nourished; to have adequate shelter. Bodily Integrity. Being able to move freely from place to place; to be secure against violent assault, including sexual assault and domestic violence; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction. Senses, Imagination, and Thought. Supporting this capability means supporting forms of human association that can be shown to be crucial in their development. Practical Reason.

This entails protection for the liberty of conscience and religious observance. Being able to live with and toward others, to recognize and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; to be able to imagine the situation of another. Protecting this capability means protecting institutions that constitute and nourish such forms of affiliation, and also protecting the freedom of assembly and political speech. Must the very idea of human rights be premised upon a religious or metaphysical idea in order to be conceptually intelligible, sufficiently protected, or practically stable over time?

Or might we ground our conception of human rights upon reasons that we could all share or at least not conscientiously reject? Although plenty and varied, responses to this crisis of legitimization can be divided into two general types. Theorists who endorse maximalism do not only contend that human rights can be grounded religiously, but they further insist that human rights must be grounded accordingly if they are to retain their theoretical coherence, normative force, or practical efficacy.

Michael Perry, a human rights theorist, U. The other major strategy of justifying human rights is, in contrast, overtly minimalist by design. John Rawls, among others, adopts this enforcement-centered approach to human rights. Rawls neglects to demonstrate how even his pared-down list of human rights could withstand the very charge of ethnocentrism that it was designed to overcome. The next strategy under consideration, consensus-based approaches to human rights, also attempts to avoid wading into seemingly intractable debates about religion, human nature, or the 7 Introduction ultimate ends of social and political life.

By seeking intercultural agreement among diverse parties only at the level of practical human rights standards or norms, this two-tiered approach preserves conceptual freedom for each political, religious, or philosophical-moral tradition to supply its own rationale for the area of overlap. This manner of justifying human rights is often touted as being well suited for our pluralistic context and with its potential to satisfy both maximalists who would contextualize human rights within a robust account of the good and minimalists who would keep any official doctrine or public account of human rights sufficiently detached from commitments that are likely to be perceived as sectarian.

I thereby close this chapter with a suggestion that we remedy this shortcoming by returning to the work of those who originally inspired the turn to consensus for human rights: Jacques Maritain and John Rawls. In chapter 5 I discuss the capability approach in general and its relationship to the more familiar human rights framework in particular, taking care to illuminate points of contact and divergence between them.

I ultimately propose that what is most instructive about the capability approach is neither any 8 Introduction enumerated list of central human capabilities, nor any particular translation of the language of capabilities into that of rights or vice versa. Rather, the capability approach helps to clarify what it actually means to secure a human right to someone, correctly acknowledges the unavoidability of presupposing a conception of the good for human beings in the process, and properly situates human rights claims alongside of the moral entitlements that nonhuman animals might be said to have.

While Nussbaum is correct that persons of diverse including no religious affiliation could endorse the capability approach, I conclude that her version is more philosophically comprehensive and thus nonreligiously maximalist than even she is willing to admit.

The central argument of this book is inspired by, although ultimately distinguishable from, these aforementioned approaches, and I suggest most directly in chapter 6 which elements of each should be retrieved. Pace minimalists, I urge resistance to the temptation to either blunt the critical edge of human rights in order to evade controversy or downplay the level of philosophical commitment that the idea of human rights requires in order to increase their reception among disparate audiences. But pace maximalists, I also call for an end to their exaggerated claims that noncosmologically grounded rationales for human rights invariably lack sufficient theoretical coherence or motivating force.

My position is maximalist-leaning in concluding that we can make the most sense of the powerful claims that human rights make when we embed them within an ethically realist framework, but it is minimalist-leaning in 9 Introduction insisting that value realism itself could be supported on either religious or nonreligious grounds. So understood, we should regard human rights as a special class of moral rights that would ideally be recognized in, and protected by, the law and other institutions. Like other kinds of rights, we should also conceive of human rights as having prima facie priority over social goals or collectivist ends.

For example, even if we were to count the freedoms of movement and association as fundamental human rights, a severe outbreak of an infectious disease could warrant temporary restrictions on those freedoms for reasons of public health. Now the claim that membership in the species Homo sapiens alone yields a series of individual entitlements says nothing on its own about their content—the kinds of treatment or forbearance thereof that are due each human qua human.

Thus, without begging the question whether internationally recognized human rights really are genuine human rights, I will often allude to the provisions stated in the International Bill of Human Rights and other core treaties to provide a common framework on which to base the following discussion. Indeed, once we become clear what human rights are and are supposed to do, we will see why any official account of human rights should remain subject to ongoing revision.

As such, it defends the twin ideas that there are moral claims and demands that apply to everyone and that those involving human rights can be safely counted among them. After interrogating the cultural relativist and ethnocentrist theses in their descriptive and prescriptive varieties, I discuss the legitimate but misplaced fears that likely account for their enduring popularity. They accordingly reason that all assessments of the conduct of others could only be tied to idiosyncratic standards of measurement.

Some Western societies legally prosecute cases of animal cruelty and enact statutory measures to protect animal welfare, whereas other societies, such as the Hopi, apparently show no compassion for animal suffering and sometimes take pleasure in it Brandt ; Moody-Adams Despite these reports of widely divergent practices and attitudes about them, moral common ground might still be found at the level of higher principles.

Non-Inuits and Inuits alike might subscribe to the idea that it is wrong to prolong an inevitable 13 Cultural Relativism death in desperate circumstances; after all, medical practices ranging from passive euthanasia to physician-assisted suicide have won a range of popular support in the West and are currently legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and in several U. But let us not forget our overall societal indifference to the production and slaughterhouse conditions of the estimated 9.

In other cases, cultural relativist reports of radical difference across cultures overlook or deliberately exclude voices of dissent from within any given culture. He is not pristine and separate. The family is part of the extended family, and then friends and the wider society. Prescriptive Problems with Cultural Relativism The question remains whether cultural relativism in either of its two prescriptive versions fares any better than the descriptive varieties discussed earlier. Strictly speaking, relativism is not a normative ethical claim that entails practical consequences i.

Thus, by prescriptive varieties of cultural relativism, I mean to signify the social attitudes, practices, or policies that are likely to be adopted by those who hold the cultural relativist position that moral values and judgments are relative to sociocultural context. Nevertheless, any sensible, well-traveled, or multilingual person should readily acknowledge that certainty or proof in matters of translation 15 Cultural Relativism is not required for successful communication.

While the question is timely and merits a sound response, we would be wise to remember that cultural relativists are unlikely to be able to provide one. This is because an embrace of toleration in accordance with their own logic would have to face the same restricted applicability as well. Cultural relativists could only urge each culture to tolerate the differing social practices or customs of all others by succumbing to a universalist form of argument to which they are supposed to be principally opposed.

Second, even if cultural relativists could make the case that Western thought and society either already does or now should bend more toward tolerance than intolerance, the reasons they could marshal for such a position would fail to capture something important: genuine respect for the Other.

Put in the form of a question, how could cultural relativists demonstrate that if they could only support tolerating the Other in ways that merely referred back to their own subjective assessments without ever transcending them, such as by appealing to the objective worth of foreign peoples and their ways or the real harm done to them when subjected to unwarranted forms of intervention? Despite all appearances, then, the principle of toleration is neither a natural ally nor a logical extension of the cultural relativist thesis.

Those who would encourage greater, not lesser, toleration of cross-cultural differences would thus be wise to base their support for toleration on other grounds. Although anthropologists might initially have offered cultural relativism as a counterpart to Western imperialism, today it is dated to believe that they are still committed to it by trade or discipline.

The American Anthropological Association has since officially reversed its position on the existence of cross-cultural moral principles, endorsed several international treaties on human rights, and encouraged the expansion of the human rights framework to include issues that are not conventionally prioritized Engle Instead, they usually mean to assert either methodological contextualism the idea that customs, beliefs, or actions should be understood in cultural and historical context or methodological neutralism the idea that social scientists should try to suppress their own moral evaluations when studying other cultures, even though an eradication of all bias is hermeneutically impossible.

In demonstrating that cultural relativist claims cannot withstand critical scrutiny, we must be careful not to exaggerate what we have and have not shown. First, cultural relativism may be untenable as a philosophical thesis, but situationism, the view that an act could be right or wrong depending on the circumstances, need not be.

In fact, situationism could even be compatible with universalism in ethics because the soundest course of action when determining the permissibility of any given proposal might still involve recourse to a universal principle Tilley Second, even a successful demonstration of the improbability or undesirability of relativism could not itself imply the truth of ethical universalism, for expressivist and nihilist possibilities remain that moral claims are not the kinds of things that are true or false, whether for discrete cultures or for humanity as a whole Ayer ; Blackburn ; Mackie ; Joyce Although those disputes more or less died with the Soviet Union, equally impassioned debates have reemerged elsewhere, especially in parts of Africa and Asia.

In short, the fear is that the legal framework and conceptual apparatus of human rights will continue to intrude hegemonically, whether by intent or inevitable consequence, upon all the peoples of the world, including those who would rather do without them. The second is through content, or by identifying Western bias in contemporary human rights formulations or standards. Rather, their primary complaint is that the sociophilosophical precursors of human rights are to be found in Western natural rights doctrines of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or even earlier, in the Christianized and classical theories of natural law that preceded them.

Doctrines of ius naturale, or natural law, served for centuries as the cornerstone of Western ethical thought. The idea of natural law entails belief in an objective morality that need not be formally instantiated into positive law for its legitimacy or trumping authority. When formulated in explicitly theological terms, natural law conceives of God as the highest lawgiver and requires the subordination of all human laws or other social conventions to the intrinsic moral order established by divine will. European moralists of the seventeenth century, most famously Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf, and Thomas Hobbes, essentially laid the foundation for secularizing natural law thinking by grounding the idea into human nature and thereby reducing the need for a transcendent referent.

Although Grotius maintained the traditional theological belief in God as the author of nature, his position concerning the validity and immutability of natural law should God fail to intervene in government or even exist paved the way for the more secularized and rationalistic theories of both natural law and natural rights that ensued. John Locke — argued that the Law of Nature serves as the source of our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property; his writings gave philosophical support to the overthrowing of absolute monarchy in the Glorious Revolution in England More recently, moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre b.

But the documents still resemble the natural law and natural rights talk of the Enlightenment and earlier periods in their stipulation of humanity-at-large as the relevant moral community, placement of normative constraints upon the workings of positive law, and use of analogous language. Article 1 echoes the U. That the UDHR intentionally as opposed to coincidentally contains these traces of Western philosophy is supported further by the fact that many African and Asian nations did not have a voice in the drafting period of —48 because they had yet to win their independence from their Western colonizers.

To respond to these questions, we must assess the validity of the brief narrative sketched earlier as well as the merits of the ethnocentric objection itself. The second is by showing areas of conceptual compatibility between human rights and the values that undergird a wide diversity of religions, philosophies, and cultures. Let us turn, then, to the actual drafting process of the UDHR.

Admittedly, some portions of the historical record work to substantiate, rather than repudiate, persistent accusations of Western privilege and bias. A former U. A closer look at the drafting process of the UDHR would also reveal the not insignificant contributions by representatives from non-Western and less powerful states. Carlos Romulo campaigned incessantly for the rights of peoples under colonial rule as well as for a solid position against racial discrimination—much to the discomfort of the then officially 24 Prolegomena to Any Philosophical Defense of Human Rights segregated United States and other colonial powers.

The results of his lobbying can be seen in the many stipulations in Article 2 that prohibit discrimination of any kind in the rights to which each individual should be recognized as being entitled. I will address this matter in greater detail in chapter 4, when we turn to consensus-based approaches to human rights. But to illustrate this point now with Confucianism, a tradition still popularly believed to be antithetical to rights talk, many scholars have argued the case for nonhostility or even basic compatibility between key Confucian ideas and contemporary human rights norms.

Chinese philosophy expert Irene Bloom regards the Mencian concept of common humanity, which is based on the four incipient moral tendencies inherent in us all i. Comparative philosopher Julia Ching regards human rights as recent products of earlier developments in the West that had analogs elsewhere, such as in traditional China.

Tharoor: Are Human Rights Universal? – World Policy Journal – World Policy Institute

Thus, other nations with a Confucian legacy could just as well follow suit. Of course, Confucianism as a longstanding tradition has texts, rites, and other resources rich enough to allow its adherents to justify a wide range of positions on many issues. It should therefore come as no surprise that other scholars of Confucianism, such as Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont Jr.

Elsewhere, pro-democracy activist Fang Lizhi regretfully reports that Chinese Communist leaders have interpreted the Mencian idea of the four moral sprouts with which all humans are natively endowed to mean that everyone can be taught to think alike—not to provide grounds for the right of freedom of thought and expression. As can be seen in these examples, one could interpret Confucianism in ways either congruent with human rights 26 Prolegomena to Any Philosophical Defense of Human Rights norms or as cutting against the grain of contemporary human rights standards.

Still, the very fact of scholarly disagreement on whether Confucianism is ultimately more critical than supportive of human rights or vice versa should effectively demonstrate why the case for compatibility or incompatibility between any non-Western tradition and human rights must be affirmatively made and not merely presumed. But it took centuries and a great deal of internal resistance for Westerners to overcome once-dominant views concerning the natural superiority of some groupings of humans over others, and the rule of the one or the few over the many.

Prescriptive Problems with the Ethnocentrist Objection Returning now to the question of the origins of human rights, we should note here that the answer, though important for historical or sociological reasons, holds only questionable normative weight. Assuming for the sake of argument that the idea of human rights originally emerged in the West, it is not clear how or why this fact would necessarily undermine its prospects for universal validity because to think so would be to succumb to the genetic fallacy.

Whether owing to reconstitution or to the lasting effects of colonization, today it is an empirical fact that this Western-originated model of the sovereign state has been reproduced around the world, with its notion of centralized power, control over resources, and agenda of 28 Prolegomena to Any Philosophical Defense of Human Rights modernization. Postscript on Ethnocentrism Might charges of ethnocentrism against the universal validity of human rights ironically be trading upon a reverse form of orientalism?

Rather than reify this unproductive dichotomy between East and West, however, genuine emancipation might require the dismantling of this dualism altogether. As with the previous case of cultural relativism, the purpose of interrogating the charge of ethnocentrism was not to establish the universal validity of human rights but only to show how such prospects remain credible. We must accordingly resist the temptation to exaggerate what we have and have not shown, particularly in light of three possible areas of overstatement.

First, we must fully acknowledge that that the universal validity of any given ethical concept cannot be established by a series of successful comparisons e. Finally, we would be wise to remember that we have largely dismantled the specter of ethnocentrism only on the most general level: we have directed nearly all of our attention to the opponent who disputes the very idea of human rights tout court, not to the more nuanced critic who alleges cultural bias in only particular interpretations of human rights.

The more sophisticated critic who accepts the universal validity of the idea of human rights but takes issue with certain articulations of what the idea entails must therefore have some way of distinguishing between the universal and the merely local. Relatedly, supporters of human rights themselves will need to be able to determine what constitutes a legitimate cultural implementation of a human right and what represents an unacceptable deviation from a globally valid standard.

Since these issues remain hotly debated even among human rights proponents themselves, we will address them later in greater detail.

These premises affect their underlying rationale for human rights as well as the set of liberties or goods that will even be counted as human rights. Further distinguishing maximalist from minimalist approaches is a robust articulation of our common humanity and what it is about us as human beings that entitles us all to this special class of rights called human rights. One of the most famous papal encyclicals of the twentieth century, Pacem in terris, could also be regarded as a maximalist document.

The encyclical accordingly explicates all human rights provisions, including those pertaining to the worship of God and religion, work and welfare, property, the formation of groups, and civil and political participation, with reference to the requirements of reason via the natural law, on the one hand, and scripture and the social teachings of the Catholic Church, on the other par.

They justify their endorsement of the UDHR among other universal values, standards, and attitudes by demonstrating how transreligious teachings or principles such as the Golden Rule give way to a range of universal human rights and responsibilities. Now the Declaration Towards a Global Ethic differs from both the CDHRI and Pacem in terris in providing neither an account of who we human beings essentially are, nor a telos toward which all life is directed. As we have seen in this brief sampling, maximalist declarations of human rights collectively issue mutually incompatible claims about the theoretical foundations of human rights.

Some understand this unavoidable dependence on religion in practical or existential terms, their argument being that only religion can sufficiently respond to the limit question of morality—why be moral? Others provide a conceptual analysis of what the very idea of human rights entails and then argue that its presuppositions remain inescapably religious.

While Perry acknowledges that these documents do not specify why human beings have dignity i. What exactly does Perry mean by a religious vision or worldview? Thus, the problem with secular persons is not that they would be fundamentally incapable of honoring human rights but that any support on their behalf would require them to live out existentially what they could not in principle affirm and thus trade upon unacknowledged religious ideas.

What remains to be seen is why this is so—why Perry believes that secular analogs to religious cosmologies could not be equal to the task. Despite this apparently equal embrace of the religious and the secular, even the declaration gestures toward maximalism. So can one face any danger of spiritual homelessness and moral arbitrariness with pure reason? Ethical directives are unconditional only on the presupposition of an unconditional.

But, like everything human, they remain conditional. In other words, religion gives an answer to the ultimate question of why we are responsible and what for. Max Stackhouse and the Indispensability of Theology for Human Rights Max Stackhouse, a leading Christian ethicist and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, offers a maximalist account of human rights that echoes some of the previous arguments and makes some comparatively bolder claims.

Why do we do that?

If one has 43 Why Human Rights Need Religion a chance to exercise will, freedom is somehow there, so there is some possibility of choices there. Furthermore, people have a capacity to love, to bond with others, so the capacity to think, to will and to love are seen to be very distinctive capacities so far as we know, of the human species. Given longstanding disputes about religion or matters of ultimate concern, this line of inquiry remains fraught with controversy.

He concludes that several religions in their present forms, including Islam, Hinduism, and certain branches of Judaism and Christianity, are unlikely to sustain a commitment to human rights in the long run, although there is potential for them all to reform Stackhouse and Healey , —95; see also Stackhouse , 26— Nicholas Wolterstorff and the Pearl of Great Price One of the most distinguished Christian philosophers of our time, Nicholas Wolterstorff, provides his own version of maximalism that shares notable similarities with the others.

Like Stackhouse, Wolterstorff not only traces the conceptual origins of human rights to key biblical claims about God and justice but he also doubts that society 45 Why Human Rights Need Religion will be able to protect them sufficiently if severed from their theological roots. While details of their genealogy differ, Wolterstorff parallels Stackhouse in tracing the deep origins of human rights not to seventeenth century discussions of political individualism in the modernizing West, nor to the nominalism of the fourteenth century following debates about apostolic poverty and private property, but to ancient themes in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures Wolterstorff a, 62—64, Popular attempts to articulate the nature of our imaging in terms of particular capacities, such as in those required to exercise the blessing or mandate of dominion over the animals, may have the virtue of ontologically distinguishing human beings from non-human animals see Gen.

Rather, his view is that all human beings have rights because of their inherent worth, and the property or relation common to all in which this worth inheres or supervenes is precisely that each is beloved by God a, 10—11, —20, — Instead, his concern is whether even their most philosophically promising candidates would be able to explain why all members of the species Homo sapiens have human rights—and have them equally. First, because the capacity for rational agency comes in degrees i.

Thus, it is not simply that capacities approaches cannot adequately protect the equal moral worth of all human beings due to the undeniable variation among our possession and use of the relevant capacities. But it is also that such approaches would unwittingly elevate certain nonhuman animals above the threshold of moral dignity and standing while it would simultaneously demote other human beings below it, namely those who either lack the capacities entirely or only possess them in severely diminished and thus nonimpressive ways.

Wolterstorff also similarly stresses the importance of not subsuming the concept of rights into that of duties because they symmetrically evoke two different dimensions of the moral order: the patient dimension in the case of duties, when others come into our presence bearing morally legitimate claims upon us about how we are to treat them; and the agent dimension in the case of rights, as we bear morally legitimate claims upon others when we come into their presence b, ; But he also reached that conclusion because he assumed talk of inherent dignity to be equivalent to talk of sacrality, and he thereafter judged the very idea of secular sacredness to rest upon a conceptual confusion.

They need only supply an adequate secular defense of the idea of inherent human dignity from which international human rights law proclaims itself to have been derived. Thus, in contrast to the conditionality that international law affords in the implementation of the vast majority of human rights for carefully circumscribed reasons, any suggestion that all global ethical standards must be met under every imaginable scenario would seem dogmatic and severe by comparison.

Beyond acknowledging the ways in which the call for absoluteness far exceeds what is required by international human rights law, it is worth noting the intuitive plausibility of, and wide-ranging public support for, conditionality in the realization of many human rights. We might imagine a case where we affirm the universal human right to movement, assembly, and association but still permit local law enforcement authorities to diffuse a dangerous situation of overcrowding in a public space by peaceably ordering the masses to disperse. Consider the nonderogable human right to life Art.

Their argument is that a political community truly threatened with annihilation should be able to directly target noncombatants for harm in order to save itself Walzer , ch. Consider contemporary unresolved debates about the use of torture to obtain intelligence. If they were reformulated accordingly, those who would hope to justify human rights on minimalist grounds would no longer have to defend the exceptionless quality of all international human standards, only a special class of them i.

Second, to return to the question of the adequacy of capacities approaches in light of the argument from marginal cases, we should note that Wolterstorff overstates his case with respect to the property or relation for which we must to look to ground the idea of natural human rights.

The idea of human rights does not require a concomitant belief in either the superiority or uniqueness of Homo sapiens sapiens in comparison to all other species. The idea entails universal recognition of a set of rights for every human being without distinction of any kind but it need not say anything else about whether other species possess moral worth or even rights of their own. I return to a discussion of the ways in which claims of animal rights do and do not affect those of human rights in chapters 5 and 6. That is, rather than ground the idea of human rights on the worth that inheres in every human being i.

Whether the maximalist challenge is understood in a religiously ecumenical or more exlusivistic fashion, human rights proponents would be wise to marshal their energies into overcoming it. In insisting that human rights are necessarily premised upon religious assumptions, maximalists have essentially implied that the legitimacy of the human rights project itself turns on the truth or at least the feasibility of those religious convictions themselves see Perry , n3.

If such a maximalist conclusion were correct and widely known, however, the project of globalizing human rights would surely encounter more resistance than it already does in some quarters, particularly among those who profess different views about religion than those purportedly undergirding the entire project. To be sure, the truth-value of the maximalist contention that the idea of human rights requires some religious cosmology or other for its very intelligibility does not turn on whether large scores of people acknowledge or repudiate that claim.

Nevertheless, strong practical incentives would remain for proponents of human rights to avoid appealing to controversial and seemingly indeterminate religious premises when attempting to justify their implementation everywhere, especially if some satisfactory nonreligious basis could be offered instead in their defense. Beyond the practical problems of acceptability that the global human rights project would encounter if maximalism were both true and widely known, there would still be the deeper issue with which all human rights proponents, including maximalists themselves, would have to contend.

Because one of the most widely cherished human rights today is freedom of religion and conscience, the maximalist proclamation that the idea of human rights inescapably rests upon one or other religious premise would appear to exist in some tension with that putative genuine provision. While it is, of course, logically possible that the right to religious freedom itself requires or presupposes a particular religious vision e. This I seek to do in chapter 5. I turn to consensusbased approaches to human rights in chapter 4.

Those who were intent on preserving a strong sense of state sovereignty would have strong incentives to avoid proliferating the range of goods or liberties that would be counted as genuine human rights. John Rawls, who is widely regarded as the most important political philosopher of the latter half of the twentieth century, offers 57 58 An Enforcement-Centered Approach, with Special Reference to John Rawls an account of human rights that essentially adopts this scenario. Although he is best known for developing principles of justice for a single liberal democratic society, his account of justice between and among peoples is more relevant for our purposes.

Peoples are free and independent, and their freedom and independence are to be respected by other peoples. Peoples are to observe treaties and undertakings. Peoples are equal and are parties to the agreements that bind them. Peoples are to observe a duty of non-intervention. Peoples have the right of self-defense but no right to instigate war for reasons other than self-defense.

Peoples are to honor human rights. Peoples have a duty to assist other peoples living under unfavorable conditions that prevent their having a just or decent political and social regime. Because decent societies are not inferior to liberal ones when evaluated from the perspective of compliance to international law i. His refusal to ground human rights on any particular religious, philosophical, or metaphysical tenet also parallels the decision of the framers of the UDHR to avoid resolving debates about religion, human nature, or the ultimate ends of social and political life.

I. Human Rights as Natural Rights

Advancing Human Rights series. EXPLORE THIS TITLE. Description Table of Contents Reviews. Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World. Grace Y. Kao. Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World Series: Advancing Human Rights series This book is concerned with the prospect of justifying human rights.

Consider the following ways in which Rawls takes pains to distinguish his approach from various maximalist alternatives: These rights do not depend on any particular comprehensive religious doctrine or philosophical doctrine of human nature. The Law of Peoples does not say, for example, that human beings are moral persons and have equal worth in the eyes of God; or that they have certain moral and intellectual powers that entitle them to these rights.