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The Moral Dimensions of Human Rights$
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Carl Wellman

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199744787

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199744787.001.0001

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Moral Dimensions

Moral Dimensions

(p.197) 12 Moral Dimensions
The Moral Dimensions of Human Rights

Carl Wellman

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the most important moral dimensions of human rights. Moral human rights presuppose basic human needs because they are grounded primarily on the harms normally inflicted on their possessors by their violation. International human rights are typically justified as protections of analogous moral human rights, but they can also be justified by their contributions to world peace, friendly relations, or social justice. Treaty rights presuppose the moral principle that agreements are to be observed, and customary human rights presuppose the principle that custom is to be observed. The incorporation of human rights in national legal systems is justified primarily as protections of analogous moral human rights. These moral dimensions are illustrated by a case study assessing their relevance to the alleged use of torture by the Bush administration.

Keywords:   human rights, human needs, Moral human rights, International human rights, peace, social justice, Treaty rights, customary human rights, torture

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