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The Challenge of Human Rights. Origin, Development and Significance. Edition No. 1

  • ID: 5226615
  • Book
  • October 2006
  • 232 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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The Challenge of Human Rights traces the history of human rights theory from classical antiquity through the enlightenment to the modern human rights movement, and analyses the significance of human rights in today’s increasingly globalized world.
- Provides an engaging study of the origin and the philosophical and political development of human rights discourse.
- Offers an original defence of human rights.
- Explores the significance of human rights in the context of increasing globalisation.
- Confronts the major objections to human rights, including the charge of western ethical imperialism and cultural relativism.

Argues that human rights logically culminate in an ethical cosmopolitanism to reflect the moral unity of the human race.
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1. Human Rights in History.

The Ancient Classical World.

The World of the Bible.

The Medieval World.

Renaissance and Reformation Thought.

Hobbes and Rousseau.

Revolution in England.

American Independence.

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man.

English Resistance to Human Rights.

German Developments: Kant and Marx.

2. The Modern Human Rights Movement.

The Charter of the United Nations Organization.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Continental Developments.

The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights.

Wider Human Rights Developments.

British Developments.


3. Clarifying Human Rights.

Some Useful Distinctions.

Rights and Duties.

The Proliferation of Rights.


Selfishness and Social Divisiveness.

Ethical Imperialism?.

A Challenge to All Cultures.

The Strengths of Human Rights.

4. Establishing Human Rights.

A Matter of Belief.

An Essential Requirement.

The Nature of Persons.

Intuitionist Approaches.

Human Dignity.

“The Wonder of Our Being”.

Major Opponents.


5. The Globalizing of Human Rights.

Global Expansion.

Seeking a Global Ethic.

Cultural Relativism.

Global Human Rights.

Towards Cosmopolitanism.

The Inadequacies of States.

“Principled” Cosmopolitanism.

Human Solidarity.



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Jack Mahoney University of London.
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