On Human Rightsby James Griffin
Pub. Date: 10/25/2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press
This book is prompted by the widespread belief that we do not yet have a clear enough idea of what human rights are. The term 'natural right', in its modern sense of an entitlement that a person has, first appeared in the late Middle Ages. When during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the theological content of the idea was abandoned in stages, nothing was put in its place. The secularized notion that we were left with at the end of the Englightenment is still our notion today, in this respect. Its intension has not changed since then: a right that we have simply in virtue of being human. During the twentieth century international law has contribute to settling its extension, but its contribution has its limits.
The notion of a human right that we have inherited suffers from no small indeterminateness of sense. The term has been left with so few criteria for determining when it is used correctly that we often have a plainly inadequate grasp on what is at issue. We today need to remedy its indeterminateness; we need to complete the incomplete idea. That is the aim of this book. Its argument is of concern, and is accessible, to philosophers, jurisprudents, political theorists, international lawyers, civil servants, and rights activists.
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Table of Contents
Part I: An Account of Human Rights
I. Human Rights: The Incomplete Idea
II. First Steps in An Account of Human Rights
III. When Human Rights Conflict
IV. Whose Rights?
V. My Rights: But Whose Duties?
VI. The Metaphysics of Human Rights
VII. The Relativity and Ethnocentricity of Human Rights
Part II: Highest Level Human Rights
Part III: Applications
XI. Discrepanices Between the Best Philosophical Account of Human Rights and the International Law of Human Rights
XII. A Right to Life, A Right to Death
XIV. Do Human Rights Require Democracy?
XV. Group Rights
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