Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
Human Rights and Universality: The Dilemma of an Ideology that Wanted to Be a Science
ExpressO (2014)
  • Henri Féron, Tsinghua University
Abstract

Naturalists see human rights as a moral science. They believe that, like the laws of physics, those rights exist and have universal authority regardless of whether we agree with them or not. Yet the debates leading to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made clear that this interpretation was far from unanimous, and that the Declaration's contents had to be presented as an ideological consensus rather than naturalistic Truths. This has created a dilemma for naturalists: either they accept that human rights are dependent on agreement and only superficially universal, or they impose naturalism on non-naturalists to establish rights as “scientifically” universal. We argue here that naturalists tend to the latter nowadays, and we discuss the worrying implications for the future of human rights.

Keywords
  • Foundation of human rights,
  • sovereignty and human rights,
  • religion and human rights,
  • science and human rights,
  • universality of human rights,
  • cultural relativism
Publication Date
September 26, 2014
Citation Information
Henri Féron. "Human Rights and Universality: The Dilemma of an Ideology that Wanted to Be a Science" ExpressO (2014)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/henri_feron/1/