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On Human Rights$
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James Griffin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199238781

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238781.001.0001

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First Steps in an Account of Human Rights

First Steps in an Account of Human Rights

(p.29) 2 First Steps in an Account of Human Rights
On Human Rights

James Griffin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter sketches a proposed substantive account of human rights. It begins with a discussion of the two general ways for philosophy to supply a more substantive account of human rights: a top-down approach which starts with an overarching principle, or principles, or an authoritative decision procedure from which human rights can then be derived; and a bottom-up approach that starts with human rights as used in our actual social life by politicians, lawyers, social campaigners, as well as theorists of various sorts, and then sees what higher principles one must resort to in order to explain their moral weight, when one thinks they have it, and to resolve conflicts between them. It identifies two grounds for human rights: personhood and practicalities. The existence conditions for a human right would, then, be these.

Keywords:   human rights, equality, agency, personhood, practicalities

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