1st Edition

In Defense of Human Rights A Non-Religious Grounding in a Pluralistic World

By Ari Kohen Copyright 2007
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    The argument that religion provides the only compelling foundation for human rights is both challenging and thought-provoking and answering it is of fundamental importance to the furthering of the human rights agenda.

    This book establishes an equally compelling non-religious foundation for the idea of human rights, engaging with the writings of many key thinkers in the field, including Michael J. Perry, Alan Gewirth, Ronald Dworkin and Richard Rorty. Ari Kohen draws on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a political consensus of overlapping ideas from cultures and communities around the world that establishes the dignity of humans and argues that this dignity gives rise to collective human rights. In constructing this consensus, we have succeeded in establishing a practical non-religious foundation upon which the idea of human rights can rest.

    In Defense of Human Rights will be of interest to students and scholars of political theory, philosophy, religious studies and human rights.

    1. Prologue: Starvin’ for Justice

    2. Introduction: The First Day of Class

    3. Michael Perry and the Religious Cosmology: Foundations and Critiques of Human Rights

    4. The Possibility of Secular Human Rights: Alan Gewirth and the Principle of Generic Consistency

    5. The Problem of Secular Sacredness: Ronald Dworkin, Michael Perry, and Human Rights Foundationalism

    6. Human Dignity Without Teleology: Human Rights and Evolutionary Biology

    7. Does Might Make Human Rights? Sympathy, Solidarity, and Subjectivity in Richard Rorty’s Final Vocabulary

    8. Rights and Wrongs Without God: A Non-Religious Grounding for Human Rights in a Pluralistic World


    Ari Kohen has been Assistant Professor of Justice Studies and Political Science at James Madison University, USA; from August 2007, he will be Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA.

    '...a fine contribution to the growing literature on its chosen subject and must be regarded as essential reading for all engaged with these matters.'
    David Lay Williams, University of Wisconsin, USA