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Human rights, freedom, and political authority

Valentini, Laura (2012) Human rights, freedom, and political authority. Political Theory, 40 (5). pp. 573-601. ISSN 0090-5917

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0090591712451721


In this article, I sketch a Kant-inspired liberal account of human rights: the freedom-centred view. This account conceptualizes human rights as entitlements that any political authority—any state in the first instance—must secure to qualify as a guarantor of its subjects’ innate right to freedom. On this picture, when a state (or state-like institution) protects human rights, it reasonably qualifies as a moral agent to be treated with respect. By contrast, when a state (or state-like institution) fails to protect human rights, it loses its moral status and becomes liable to both internal and external interference. I argue that this account not only steers a middle course between so-called natural-law and political approaches to human rights but also satisfies three important theoretical desiderata—explanatory power, functional specificity, and critical capacity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 SAGE Publications
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2014 11:42
Last Modified: 20 May 2020 02:37

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