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Human Rights: Moral or Political?$
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Adam Etinson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198713258

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198713258.001.0001

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Taking International Legality Seriously

Taking International Legality Seriously

A Methodology for Human Rights

(p.211) 6 Taking International Legality Seriously
Human Rights: Moral or Political?

Allen Buchanan

Gopal Sreenivasan

Oxford University Press

The chapter aims to draw philosophical attention to the neglected enterprise of figuring out whether the existence of international legal human rights is morally justified. Philosophers usually focus on whether moral human rights exist, which is often rather controversial. As is argued here, however, the existence of a moral right not to be imprisoned for debt (say) is neither necessary nor sufficient for an international legal human right not to be imprisoned for debt to be morally justified. The chapter proceeds to indicate how rich and complex the issues involved in morally justifying an international legal human right really are; and to show how much philosophical distance there is between such a justification and the existence of a relevant moral right. Finally, the chapter draws some lessons from its analysis for the methodological debate over political approaches to human rights.

Keywords:   human rights, international law, moral justification, legal rights, moral rights, universal rights, natural rights, methodology

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