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The Challenge of Human Rights


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments. Introduction. 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. Conclusion. 3. Clarifying Human Rights. Some Useful Distinctions. Rights and Duties. The Proliferation of Rights. Individuals-in-Society. 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. Conclusion. 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. Bibliography. Index

About the Author

Jack Mahoney is Emeritus Professor of Moral and Social Theology in the University of London and is a former Principal of Heythrop College, University of London. He is the author of several books and of many articles on general and applied ethics, including medical ethics, business and professional ethics and theological ethics, and he has lectured and broadcast widely in these subjects at home and abroad.


"Jack Mahoney has produced an account of human rights that speaks directly to contemporary audiences. It dodges none of the hard questions and its defence of human rights rings true as a result. It is a scholarly but also an intellectually exciting read." Conor Gearty, London School of Economics and Political Science ?Mahoney's text is excellent; it makes complicated issues accessible without lapsing into oversimplification. This is no small achievement and makes the text especially well-suited to undergraduate teaching. The range of issues covered is surprisingly comprehensive yet by no means superficial. The combination of philosophy and history is a major virtue.? Maurice Wade, Trinity College "Mahoney carefully surveys and discusses the various attempts to explain human rights in order to formulate a single, compelling, logical proof for their existence." America, The National Catholic Weekly "This book may be useful as an introduction to the concept of human rights." Journal of Peace Research

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