Which Rights Should Be Universal? / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $17.89
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 48%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $17.89   
  • New (6) from $30.11   
  • Used (5) from $17.89   

Overview

"We hold these truths to be self-evident..." So begins the U.S. Declaration of Independence. What follows those words is a ringing endorsement of universal rights, but it is far from self-evident. Why did the authors claim that it was? William Talbott suggests that they were trapped by a presupposition of Enlightenment philosophy: That there was only one way to rationally justify universal truths, by proving them from self-evident premises.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the authors of the U.S. Declaration had no infallible source of moral truth. For example, many of the authors of the Declaration of Independence endorsed slavery. The wrongness of slavery was not self-evident; it was a moral discovery.

In this book, William Talbott builds on the work of John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, J.S. Mill, Amartya Sen, and Henry Shue to explain how, over the course of history, human beings have learned how to adopt a distinctively moral point of view from which it is possible to make universal, though not infallible, judgments of right and wrong. He explains how this distinctively moral point of view has led to the discovery of the moral importance of nine basic rights.

Undoubtedly, the most controversial issue raised by the claim of universal rights is the issue of moral relativism. How can the advocate of universal rights avoid being a moral imperialist? In this book, Talbott shows how to defend basic individual rights from a universal moral point of view that is neither imperialistic nor relativistic. Talbott avoids moral imperialism by insisting that all of us, himself included, have moral blindspots and that we usually depend on others to help us to identify those blindspots.

Talbott's book speaks to not only debates on human rights but to broader issues of moral and cultural relativism, and will interest a broad range of readers.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Talbott introduces an ambitious framework for identifying as universal those human rights essential to propelling moral 'progress.' The author's provocative discussion features numerous prominent philosophers and richly examined and illustrated philosophical issues. Highly recommended."—American Library Association

"There is much to admire in Bill Talbott's appropriately ambitious and nicely argued new book on a very important topic. I appreciate his courageous defense of universal moral principles, making room for the critique of other cultures where required, and his full and truly feminist support for women's equality, which plays an important role in the volume. I like his idea of moral discovery and the related idea of moral justification as a 'social project.' Furthermore, Talbott's recommendation that we should take a more 'bottom up' approach to moral principles and human rights is certainly attractive."—Carol Gould, Human Rights Review

"This book deserves a wide readership. Whatever one's thousand disagreements with it, it is a fascinating exercise in ambitious liberal minimalism. By this I mean that it is not yet another lame attempt to promote a liberalism without universal rational foundations, but rather an effort to supply these as parsimoniously as possible. Whatever our doubts about the feasibility of this project, we are beholden to Talbott for undertaking it, and can all benefit from wrestling with the ingenuity with which he prosecutes it. —Clifford Owin, University of Toronto

"No other work I am aware of comes close in making the consequentialist approach to rights come alive. Talbott somehow manages to provide the most detailed and skillful account of the philosophical, institutional, and empirical complexity of this approach without ever letting us lose sight of the simple humanitarianism that motivates it."— Liam Murphy, New York University

"One of the many virtues of Talbott's work is its sympathy for the aims of the human rights movement without any of the theoretical dogmatism found in so much contemporary writing about human rights. It is based on a wide-ranging critical appraisal of the modern history of thought about its subject. With clarity and economy, it sets forth a comprehensive and plausible position about the basis and content of what Talbott regards as the core of any reasonable doctrine of human rights."—Charles R. Beitz, Princeton University, from the symposium Which Rights Should Be Universal?, Human Rights & Human Welfare, An International Review of Books and Other Publications

"William Talbott's Which Right Should Be Universal? is a book with many virtues. Most impressive is his demonstration in Chapters 6 and 7 ('Autonomy Rights' and 'Political Rights') that a wide range of basic human rights are vital contributors to the core value of personal autonomy. Based on 'the claim to first-person authority'—the idea that normal adults, placed in the right environment, can be 'reliable judges of what is good for them'(123-128, 174)—Talbott powerfully rebuts standard arguments for paternalistic authoritarian rule, even in cases where the motives of the rulers are impeccable. And, in an intriguing twist, he manages to do this with a consequentialist argument that makes no appeal to the intrinsic value of choice."—Jack Donnelly, Denver University, from the symposium Which Rights Should Be Universal?, Human Rights & Human Welfare, An International Review of Books and Other Publications

"A plausible defense of universal human rights must respond to the challenge of cultural relativism on the one flank, and the charge of moral imperialism on the other. In his well-written and carefully argued book, Which Rights Should be Universal?, William Talbott does a fine job of navigating between these two poles. Talbott warns against the infallibilistic and overly-confident attitude of the moral imperialist on the one side, but rejects 'the wishy-washiness' of the moral relativist on the other. This book is an exemplary study of how this epistemic modesty can go hand in hand with a metaphysical immodesty to order to defend an account of human rights that is at once culturally sensitive but universalistic in aspiration."—Kok-Chor Tan, University of Pennsylvania, from the symposium Which Rights Should Be Universal?, Human Rights & Human Welfare, An International Review of Books and Other Publications

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195331349
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/11/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,307,493
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

William J. Talbott is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington. This book is the first of two projected volumes on this topic.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The Proof Paradigm and the Moral Discovery Paradigm
3. Cultural Relativism about Human Rights
4. An Epistemically Modest Universal Moral Standpoint
5. The Development of Women's Rights as a Microcosm of the Development of Human Rights
6. Autonomy Rights
7. Political Rights
8. Clarifications and Objections
9. Conclusion
Notes/References/Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)