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In what sense are human rights political?: a preliminary exploration

Valentini, Laura (2011) In what sense are human rights political?: a preliminary exploration. Political Studies, 60 (1). pp. 180-194. ISSN 0032-3217

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2011.00905.x


Philosophical discussion of human rights has long been monopolised by what might be called the ‘natural-law view’. On this view, human rights are fundamental moral rights which people enjoy solely by virtue of their humanity. In recent years, a number of theorists have started to question the validity of this outlook, advocating instead what they call a ‘political’ view. My aim in this article is to explore the latter view in order to establish whether it constitutes a valuable alternative to the ‘natural-law view’. In particular, I distinguish between three ways in which human rights can be political: in relation to their (1) iudicandum, (2) justification and (3) feasibility constraints. I argue that it makes sense to think of human rights as political in relation to both their iudicandum and their justification but in a way that is not always adequately captured by proponents of the political view.Moreover, I also claim that, if we take the political view seriously, we still need to engage in the sort of abstract moral reasoning that characterises the natural-law approach and which proponents of the political view significantly downplay.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 The Author.
Divisions: Government
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2015 14:27
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:22

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