Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World

Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World

by Grace Y. Kao

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Overview

In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declared 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. Since that time, human rights have arguably become the cross-cultural moral concept and evaluative tool to measure the performance—and even legitimacy—of domestic regimes. Yet questions remain that challenge their universal validity and theoretical bases.

Some theorists are ”maximalist” in their insistence that human rights must be grounded religiously, while an opposing camp attempts to justify these rights in “minimalist” fashion without any necessary recourse to religion, metaphysics, or essentialism. In Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World, Grace Kao critically examines the strengths and weaknesses of these contending interpretations while also exploring the political liberalism of John Rawls and the Capability Approach as proposed by economist Amartya Sen and philosopher Martha Nussbaum.

By retrieving insights from a variety of approaches, Kao defends an account of human rights that straddles the minimalist–maximalist divide, one that links human rights to a conception of our common humanity and to the notion that ethical realism gives the most satisfying account of our commitment to the equal moral worth of all human beings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589017603
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
Publication date: 03/16/2011
Series: Advancing Human Rights series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 248
File size: 2 MB
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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