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Baynes, Kenneth (2009)
Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
Journal: Ethics & Global Politics
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects:
This article examines two recent alternatives to the traditional conception of human rights as natural rights: the account of human rights found in discourse ethics and the ‘political conception’ of human rights influenced by the work of Rawls. I argue that both accounts have distinct merits and that they are not as opposed to one another as is sometimes supposed. At the same time, the discourse ethics account must confront a deep ambiguity in its own approach: are rights derived in a strong sense from the conditions of ‘communicative freedom’ or are they developed from the participants’ own reflection upon their ongoing and continuously changing practices and institutions? The political conception recently proposed by Joshua Cohen can, I argue, contribute to the resolution of this ambiguity, though not without some modifications of its own.Keywords: human rights; discourse ethics; The ‘political conception’ of rights; Seyla Benhabib; John Rawls; Rainer Forst; Michael Ignatieff; Thomas Pogge; Joshua Cohen(Published: 10 March 2009)Citation: Ethics & Global Politics. DOI: 10.3402/egp.v2i1.1938
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    • See, for example, Maurice Cranston, What are Human Rights? (London: Bodley Head, 1973), 1; Maurice Cranston, 'Are There Any Human Rights?' Dadaelus 12 (1983): 1 17; and A. John Simmons, 'Human Rights and World Citizenship', in Justification and Legitimacy; Essays on Rights and Obligations (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
    • See, for example, James Griffin, 'Discrepancies Between the Best Philosophical Account of Human Rights and the International Law of Human Rights', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society CI (2001); 1 28, On Human Rights (Griffin, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), chap. 11. (reprinted).
    • See, for example, Alistair Macleod, 'The Structure of Arguments for Human Rights', in Universal Human Rights, ed. D. Reidy and M. Sellers, 17 36 ( Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), who proposes a 'fairness' test and the 'public reasons' test recently proposed by Amartya Sen, 'Elements of a Theory of Rights', Philosophy and Public Affairs 32 (2004): 315 56. See also, William Talbott, Which Rights Should be Universal? (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).
    • For Seyla Benhabib, see especially, The Rights of Others (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 'Another Universalism: On the Unity and Diversity of Human Rights', Proceedings and Addresses of The American Philosophical Association 81, no. 2 (2007): 7 32; for Rainer Forst, see 'The Basic Right to Justification: Toward a Constructivist Conception of Human Rights', Constellations 6, no. 1 (1999): 35 60. For two other attempts to provide an account of human rights from a discourse-theoretic perspective, see James Bohman, Democracy Beyond Borders (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007); and Eva Erman, Human Rights and Democracy (Ashgate, 2005).
    • The source of this concern is Habermas's rejection of Kant's account of 'morally laden individual rights, which claim normative independence from, and a higher legitimacy than, the political process of legislation' (Ju¨ rgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), 89); see also his 'Remarks on Legitimation Through Human Rights', in The Postnational Constellation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001). As Habermas also notes, this claim is 'not so obvious' for classical human rights (117).
    • See, Benhabib, The Rights of Others (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 132f; and Forst, 'The Basic Right to Justification: Toward a Constructivist Conception of Human Rights', Constellations 6, no. 1 (1999): 40.
    • See Benhabib, The Rights of Others, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), chap. 2; see also Frank Michelman, 'Parsing 'A Right to Have Rights', Constellations 3 (1996): 200 9.
    • Benhabib, The Rights of Others, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 67 and 132; see also, 'Another Universalism: On the Unity and Diversity of Human Rights', Proceedings and Addresses of The American Philosophical Association 81, no. 2 (2007): 7 32.
    • See Benhabib, 'Another Universalism: On the Unity and Diversity of Human Rights', Proceedings and Addresses of The American Philosophical Association 81, no. 2 (2007): 18.
    • Recently, see especially, Charles Beitz, 'Human Rights and the Law of Peoples'; Joshua Cohen, 'Minimalism About Rights'; and Peter Jones, 'International Human Rights: Political or Metaphysical?', in National Rights, International Obligations, ed. S. Caney, D. George, and P. Jones, 183 204. (Boulder, CA: Westview, 1996); for earlier political conceptions of rights see Attracta Ingram, A Political Theory of Rights; Claude Lefort, 'Politics and Human Rights', in The Political Forms of Modern Society (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1986); and Kenneth Baynes, 'Rights as Critique and the Critique of Rights', Political Theory 28 (2000): 451 68.
    • On the idea of a 'human rights regime,' see, for example, Andrew Moravscik, 'Explaining International Human Rights Regimes: Liberal Theory and Western Europe', European Journal of International Relations 1 (1995): 157 89; Charles Beitz, 'What Human Rights Mean', Daedalus 132 (2003): 40, John Ruggie, 'Human Rights and the Future International Community', Daedalus 112 (1983): 102 4; and Thomas Risse, 'The Power of Norms versus the Norms of Power', in The Third Force, (Washington, DC: Carnegie, 2000), 190.
    • John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, 27 and 78 81; and Beitz, 'Human Rights and the Law of Peoples', in The Ethics of Assistance, ed. D. Chatterjee, 193 214. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
    • On this point, see especially, Beitz, 'Human Rights and the Law of Peoples', in The Ethics of Assistance, ed. D. Chatterjee (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
    • Beitz, 'Human Rights: The Mid-Life Crisis', New York Review of Books (May 20, 1999); see also his Human Rights as Politics and as Idolatry (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), page references in the text are to this work.
    • Michael Perry, The Idea of Human Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).
    • For a history, see Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (New York: Random House, 2001).
    • Legal Reasoning and Political Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
    • Joshua Cohen, 'Minimalism about Human Rights: The Most We Can Hope For', The Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (2004): 190 213.
    • Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 142.
    • The Law of Peoples, p. 13 and 6n.8.
    • See, for example, Thomas Pogge, 'An Egalitarian Law of Peoples', Philosophy and Public Affairs 23, no. 3 (1994): 195 224; and Allen Buchanan, 'Rawls's Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World', Ethics 110 (2000): 697 721.
    • See David Reidy, 'Political Authority and Human Rights', in Rawls's Law of Peoples, 171; and Samuel Freeman, 'The Law of Peoples, Social Cooperation, Human Rights and Distributive Justice', in Justice and Global Politics, ed. E. Paul, et al. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 36, for similar reading of Rawls.
    • Andrew Kuper, 'Rawlsian Global Justice', Political Theory 28 (2000): 640 74.
    • See, for example, the conflicting interpretations of Pogge, 'An Egalitarian Law of Peoples', Philosophy and Public Affairs 23, no. 3 (1994); and Freeman, 'The Law of Peoples, Social Cooperation, Human Rights, and Distributive Justice', in Justice and Global Politics, ed.
    • E. Paul, et al. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
    • See the exchange between Thomas Nagel, 'The Problem of Global Justice', Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2005): 113 47 and Joshua Cohen and Charles Sabel, 'Extra Rempublicam Nulla Justitia?', Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (2006): 147 75.
    • See James Nickel, 'Are Human Rights Mainly Implemented through Intervention?', in Rawls's Law of Peoples, ed. Martin and Reidy; and John Tasioulas, 'From Utopia to Kazanistan: John Rawls and the Law of Peoples', Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 22 (2002): 367 96.
    • ''Human Rights and Human Responsibilities,'' in Global Justice and Transnational Politics, ed. by P. DeGreiff and C. Cronin (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002), p. 166.
    • World Poverty and Human Rights, p. 170.
    • 'Human Rights and Human Responsibilities', 181; on the importance of the interconnectedness of rights; see also James Nickel, 'Human Rights', Stanford Encyclopedia on-line; and Henry Shue, Basic Rights (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980), 74ff.
    • For Pogge's discussion, see 'Human Rights and Human Responsibilities', 164ff.
    • This interpretation of Cohen's notion of inclusion also seems to be the one adopted by Jean Cohen in her recent essay, 'Rethinking Human Rights, Democracy, and Sovereignty in the Age of Globalization', Political Theory 36 (2008): 578 606, which like the present essay also attempts to mediate between a political conception of human rights and that found in discourse ethics, though in a different way.
    • See Cohen and Sabel, 'Extra Rempublicam Nulla Justitia?', Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (2006).
    • See 'Extra Rempublicam Nulla Justitia?', Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (2006).
    • On the idea of differentiated (or dispersed) sovereignty, see Pogge, 'Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty', in World Poverty and Human Rights; David Held, The Global Covenant (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2004); and Ju¨ rgen Habermas, The Divided West (Polity Press, 2006).
    • 'Minimalism about Human Rights', p. 195.
    • 'Is there a Human Right to Democracy?', in The Egalitarian Conscience, ed. C. Sypnowich (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 226 48; for a different view, and positive response to the question, see Kenneth Baynes, 'Cosmopolitanism and International Law', in NOMOS (XLIX): Moral Universalism and Pluralism (New York: NYU Press, 2008), 219 39.
    • See Allen Buchanan, 'Taking the Human out of Human Rights', in Rawls's Law of Peoples, ed. Rex Martin and David Reidy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006).
    • See 'Minimalism about Human Rights,' p. 197.
    • Towards Justice and Virtue (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 129.
    • Tasioulas, 'The Moral Reality of Human Rights', in Freedom From Poverty as a Human Right, ed. Pogge (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
    • See Nickel, p. 270, for a list of the various roles human rights fulfill.
    • Nagel, 'The Problem of Global Justice', 114.
    • See especially, Habermas, 'A Political Constitution for the Pluralist World Society', in Between Naturalism and Religion (Cambridge, MA: Polity Press, 2008), 312 52.
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