Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World

by Grace Y. Kao

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Overview

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World by Grace Y. Kao

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights without a single dissenting vote. The document was novel in declaring that every human being, without "distinction of any kind," possesses a set of morally authoritative rights and fundamental freedoms that ought to be socially guaranteed. Today, human rights have arguably become the cross-cultural moral framework and evaluative tool to measure the performance and even legitimacy of domestic regimes. But do human rights have genuine universal validity? Or are human rights simply Western concepts smuggled underneath a cloak of cultural triumphalism? Some suggest that the very idea of human rights must be premised upon a religious or metaphysical ideal--what scholars characterize as a "thick" or "maximalist" approach. Others suggest that we ground our conception of human rights on rational reasons that all can share, independent of any philosophical or religious cast--a "thin" or "minimalist" approach. Grace Y. Kao examines the strengths and weaknesses of these contending interpretations while also exploring, critically, the arguments of political philosopher John Rawls as well as the "capabilities" approach proposed by philosopher Martha Nussbaum. In retrieving insights from a variety of these approaches Kao defends an account of human rights that straddles the minimalist-maximalist divide, one that links human rights to faith in social progress and to a conception of our common humanity and equal moral worth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589017337
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
Publication date: 03/16/2011
Series: Advancing Human Rights Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Grace Y. Kao is an associate professor of ethics at Claremont School of Theology and an associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University.

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Prolegomena to Any Philosophical Defense of Human RightsCultural RelativismEthnocentrism

2. The Maximalist Challenge to Human Rights JustificationMaximalist Approaches in Human Rights Declarations and DocumentsWhy Human Rights Needs Religion: A Sampling of Four Theoretical AccountsA Preliminary Assessment of the Maximalist ChallengeRising to the Maximalist Challenge

3. An Enforcement-Centered Approach to Human Rights, With Special Reference to John RawlsA Primer on Rawls's Conception of Global JusticeHuman Rights in the Law of Peoples Compared to International Human Rights LawRawlsian Human Rights: An AssessmentConclusion

4. Consensus-Based Approaches to Human RightsObtaining a Cross-Cultural Consensus on Human RightsOption 1: Consensus-Producing New Universal Human Rights StandardsOption 2: Consensus-Encouraging Plural Foundations for Human RightsBeyond Shared Norms: returning to the Original Sources of Inspiration

5. The Capability Approach to Human RightsWhat Is the Capability Approach? A PrimerComparing the Capability Approach to the Human Rights FrameworkJustifying Human Capabilities and Human RightsEnhancing Human Rights through the Framework of CapabilitiesRevisiting the Question of Justification

6. Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist WorldAssessing and Retrieving Minimalist Strategies of JustificationAssessing and Retrieving Maximalist Approaches to JustificationGrounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World by Straddling the Minimalist-Maximalist DivideConclusion

References

What People are Saying About This

Ronald F. Thiemann

Clearly written, rigorously argued, and thoroughly researched Grounding Human Rights is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary discussions of human rights. Grace Kao has given us a philosophically sophisticated yet truly accessible book, a rare and valuable contribution.

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World is a must read. It provides an introduction to the basic issues of human rights and should be read in any introductory courses on human rights. Not only does Kao write clearly about complex issues, but she brilliantly analyses the leading and diverse positions. She thereby provides excellent treatment of the relevant issues implied in the thorny issue of cultural pluralism.

From the Publisher

" Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World makes an important contribution to current discussions of the universality of human rights in the context of cultural and religious pluralism. It embodies broad and deep knowledge of the current theoretical discussions of the foundation and meaning of human rights in both secular and religious contexts. It will be of great interest to human rights scholars in a variety of disciplines, both theoretical and policy-oriented." -- David Hollenbach, University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

" Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World is a must read. It provides an introduction to the basic issues of human rights and should be read in any introductory courses on human rights. Not only does Kao write clearly about complex issues, but she brilliantly analyses the leading and diverse positions. She thereby provides excellent treatment of the relevant issues implied in the thorny issue of cultural pluralism." -- Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor of Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School

"Clearly written, rigorously argued, and thoroughly researched Grounding Human Rights is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary discussions of human rights. Grace Kao has given us a philosophically sophisticated yet truly accessible book, a rare and valuable contribution." -- Ronald F. Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology. Harvard University

David Hollenbach

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World makes an important contribution to current discussions of the universality of human rights in the context of cultural and religious pluralism. It embodies broad and deep knowledge of the current theoretical discussions of the foundation and meaning of human rights in both secular and religious contexts. It will be of great interest to human rights scholars in a variety of disciplines, both theoretical and policy-oriented.

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