Samuel Moyn’s essay, “Personalism, Community, and the Origins of Human Rights,” makes an important contribution to our understanding of the history of the concept of human rights. I am a philosopher. Though I have a considerable interest in history, I am not a historian. Before reading Moyn’s essay I knew nothing about the developments that he discusses. Discovering the depths of my ignorance might have left me feeling embarrassed and chagrined but for the fact that, as Moyn observes, almost none of his fellow active historians knew anything about these developments either.Read the rest of On the recognition of human rights.
Nicholas Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, and Honorary Professor of Australian Catholic University. His publications include Justice: Rights and Wrongs (Princeton, 2008), Justice in Love (Eerdmans, 2011), and Understanding Liberal Democracy (Oxford, 2012).
Posts by Nicholas Wolterstorff:
If it is indeed the case that “the social ontology of rights talk generally assumes that, at bottom, the kind of relation between social entities is conflictual or competitive,” then I dissociate myself from that generality. No guilt by association here; I don’t hang out with Hobbes. The agonistic social ontology that James K.A. Smith attributes to me is not mine. To affirm natural inherent rights is not to presuppose such an ontology, nor does my account of such rights presuppose such an ontology. Nothing Smith says shows anything to the contrary.Read the rest of Look elsewhere for agonistic social ontology: A response to Smith.
I want to re-emphasize the structure of my discussion about secular accounts of human rights. The project of trying to ground human rights is the project of trying to find what it is about human beings that gives each and every one a dignity sufficient for their possessing human rights.Read the rest of Secular accounts: A response to Chambers.