Human rights

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S105-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2006
Retrieved April 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

Human rights are rights ascribed to human beings simply as human beings. While people may possess some rights only if they occupy a special position or role, such as citizen, doctor or promisee, the claim of human rights theory is that there are other rights that everyone possesses merely in virtue of being human. Historically, the idea of human rights is closely associated with that of natural rights and both of these sorts of right have been conceived, in the first instance, as moral rights. However, since the United Nations promulgated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, human rights have been elaborated and provided for in a host of international declarations and conventions and in the domestic law of many states, so that human rights now frequently have a legal or quasi-legal status. The general idea of human rights has been very widely accepted, but there is disagreement over which rights are human rights, over how these rights should be justified, and over their absolute or defeasible status. The difficulty of combining the universality of human rights with respect for cultural difference is also a major preoccupation of both proponents and critics of human rights.

    Citing this article:
    Jones, Peter. Human rights, 2006, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S105-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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