The Idea of Human Rights
By (author) Michael J. Perry
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Idea of Human Rights by Michael J. Perry
Book DescriptionInspired by a 1988 trip to El Salvador, Michael J. Perry's new book is a personal and scholarly exploration of the idea of human rights. Perry is one of our nation's leading authorities on the relation of morality, including religious morality, to politics and law. He seeks, in this book, to disentangle the complex idea of human rights by way of four probing and interrelated essays. * The initial essay, which is animated by Perry's skepticism about the capacity of any secular morality to offer a coherent account of the idea of human rights, suggests that the first part of the idea of human rights-the premise that every human being is "sacred" or "inviolable"-is inescapably religious. * Responding to recent criticism of "rights talk", Perry explicates, in his second essay, the meaning and value of talk about human rights. * In his third essay, Perry asks a fundamental question about human rights: Are they universal? In addressing this question, he disaggregates and criticizes several different varieties of "moral relativism" and then considers the implications of these different relativist positions for claims about human rights. * Perry turns to another fundamental question about human rights in his final essay: Are they absolute? He concludes that even if no human rights, understood as moral rights, are absolute or unconditional, some human rights, understood as international legal rights, are-and indeed, should be-absolute. In the introduction, Perry writes: "Of all the influential-indeed, formative-moral ideas to take center stage in the twentieth century, like democracy and socialism, the idea of human rights (which, again, in one form or another, is an old idea) is, for many, the most difficult. It is the most difficult in the sense that it is, for many, the hardest of the great moral ideas to integrate, the hardest to square, with the reigning intellectual assumptions of the age, especially what Bernard Williams has called 'Nietzsche's thought': 'There is not only no God, but no metaphysical order of any kind...' For those who accept 'Nietzsche's thought', can the idea of human rights possibly be more than a kind of aesthetic preference? In a culture in which it was widely believed that there is no God or metaphysical order of any kind, on what basis, if any, could the idea of human rights long survive?" The Idea of Human Rights: Four Inquiries will appeal to students of many disciplines, including (but not limited to) law, philosophy, religion, and politics. Of all the influential-indeed, formative-moral ideas to occupy centre stage in the twentieth century, the notion of human rights is for many the most difficult.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780195138283
(235mm x 154mm x 13mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 30-Mar-2000
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Michael J. Perry
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Human Rights in the Constitutional Law of the United States, Paperback (July 2013)
This book explicates the morality of human rights and elaborates three internationally recognized human rights that are entrenched in US constitutional law.
Political Morality of Liberal Democracy, Paperback (February 2012)
This important new work elaborates and defends an account of the political morality of liberal democracy.
Constitutional Rights, Moral Controversy, and the Supreme Court, Paperback (December 2010)» View all books by Michael J. Perry
This book examines the Supreme Court's proper role in adjudicating moral controversies that implicate constitutional rights.
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Author Biography - Michael J. Perry
Michael J. Perry holds the University Distinguished Chair in Law at Wake Forest University. He is the author of several books, including We the People: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court (Oxford, 1999).
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