9780199238972

The Politics of Human Rights

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780199238972

  • ISBN10:

    0199238979

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-09-03
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Summary

The Politics of Human Rights provides a systematic introductory overview of the nature and development of human rights. At the same time it offers an engaging argument about human rights and their relationship with politics. The author argues that human rights have only a slight relation to natural rights and they are historically novel: In large part they are a post-1945 reaction to genocide which is, in turn, linked directly to the lethal potentialities of the nation-state. He suggests that an understanding of human rights should nonetheless focus primarily on politics and that there are no universally agreed moral or religious standards to uphold them, they exist rather in the context of social recognition within a political association. A consequence of this is that the 1948 Universal Declaration is a political, not a legal or moral, document.

Vincent goes on to show that human rights are essentially reliant upon the self-limitation capacity of the civil state. With the development of this state, certain standards of civil behavior have become, for a sector of humanity, slowly and painfully more customary. He shows that these standards of civility have extended to a broader society of states. At their best human rights are an ideal civil state vocabulary. The author explains that we comprehend both our own humanity and human rights through our recognition relations with other humans, principally via citizenship of a civil state. Vincent concludes that the paradox of human rights is that they are upheld, to a degree, by the civil state, but the point of such rights is to protect against another dimension of this same tradition (the nation-state). Human rights are essentially part of a struggle at the core of the state tradition.

Author Biography


Andrew Vincent is currently Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Politics, Sheffield University. He was formerly Professor of Political Theory and co-director of the Collingwood and British Idealism Centre at Cardiff University. He is now Director of the Centre for Political Theory and Ideologies at Sheffield University and associate editor of The Journal of Political Ideologies and Collingwood and British Idealism Studies. He was a former Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Australian National University and a Visiting Professor in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Vincent is an internationally respected specialist on political theory. His book The Nature of Political Theory (published by Oxford University Press) won the W.J.M. Mackenzie book prize.

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