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Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights$
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Rowan Cruft, S. Matthew Liao, and Massimo Renzo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199688623

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199688623.001.0001

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A Social Ontology of Human Rights

A Social Ontology of Human Rights

(p.177) 9 A Social Ontology of Human Rights
Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights

Carol C. Gould

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes a revisionist understanding of the philosophical basis of human rights. It argues that human rights are based on sociality and are themselves fundamentally social or relational conceptions, in ways that existing interpretations of them most often fail to recognize. It reviews some of the prominent accounts of human rights, focusing on how those accounts either incorporate or fail to adequately incorporate a conception of human sociality. These include the accounts of James Griffin, Alan Gewirth, Jürgen Habermas, and Charles Beitz. The chapter also describes a ‘quasi-foundational’ social ontological perspective that can mediate between the various desiderata of agency and relationality, and between historicity and normativity.

Keywords:   sociality, James Griffin, Alan Gewirth, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Beitz, agency, rationality, historicity, normativity

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