HUMAN RIGHTS: HISTORICAL AND THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES

Academic Year 2017/2018 - 1° Year

Detailed Course Content

  • Human Rights: A Historical Approach

    The course examines the affirmation of political doctrines concerning natural law and natural rights through the study of articles and essays by important modern and contemporary philosophers. The student will be able to better understand the origins of what we now call "human rights" in a perspective that is based on the tradition of predominantly Western thinking. At the end of the module, the student will be able to focus on the historical path that marked the transition from natural law and natural rights to human rights, identifying continuity and changes related to debates and claims on rights during thisvery long period , in order to explore how rights have been historically affirmed, justified and defended. The course aims to provide students with an understanding and a critical perspective on the history of foundamental claims that have certainly influenced the human rights documents drawn up in the following centuries.

  • HUMAN RIGHTS: A PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH

    Although discussions about international issues often make reference to the notion of Human Rights – the war in Syria and the ensuing migration of refugees are obvious examples – the philosophical foundations of these rights, their claim to cross-cultural universality, their ability to be a sort of secularized religion of mankind are controversial. This seminar aims to introduce students to the philosophical debate on these issues and to stimulate independent yet informed thinking. Besides the problem of the foundation of human rights, if there is one or if one is ever needed, the course will explore more concrete issues such as the Responsbility to protect, the Asian and Islamic challenges to Human Rights, the question whether democracy is to be considered a human right, the problem of what contraints do human rights impose on the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers.


Textbook Information

  • Human Rights: A Historical Approach
    1. Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia - Human Rights in History, Harward University Press, 2012 (paperback edition).
    2. Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights - A History, W W Norton &Co, 2008.
    3. John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford, 2011.
    4. M. Ishay, The History of Human Rights - From Ancient Times To The Globalization Era, University of California Press, 2008.
    5. R. Tuck, Natural Rights Theories : Their Origin and Development, Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • HUMAN RIGHTS: A PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH

    Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M., “The Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. An Overview”, in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.1-23.

    Tasioulas, John, "On the Foundations of Human Rights" in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.45-70.

    Nagel, Thomas, "Personal Rights and Public Space" Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Spring, 1995), pp. 83-107.

    Raz, Joseph, “Human Rights Without Foundations”, The Philosophy of International Law (henceforth PIL), OUP, 2010: 321-337.

    Waldron, J., "Is Dignity the Foundation of Human Rights?" in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.117-137.

    Simmons, J. "Human Rights, Natural Rights, Human Dignity" in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.138-152.

    Buchanan, Allen, “The Egalitarianism of Human Rights”, Ethics, Vol. 120, No. 4 (July 2010), pp. 679-710.

    Caranti, L., “Human Rights and Democracy” in T. Cushman (Ed.), Handbook of Human Rights, Routledge 2011, 85-99.

    Christiano, Thomas “Self-Determination and the Human Right to Democracy” in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.459-480.

    Peter, Fabienne, “A Human Rights to Democracy?”, in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.481-491.

    Jiwei Ci, “Liberty Rights and the Limits of Liberal Democracy” in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.588-607.

    Li, Xiarong “Asian Values and the Universality of Human Rights” PHR, p.397-408

    An-Nai’im, Abdullahi A., “Human Rights in the Muslim World”, PHR, p.315-334

    El Fadl, Kahled Abou, “Islam and the Challenge of Democracy” Boston Review, April/March 2003 (available on line http://www.bostonreview.net/BR28.2/abou.html)

    “The Responsibility to Protect”, available on line (http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/ICISS%20Report.pdf). In particular p. 1-55.

    Held, Virginia Care and Human Rights? in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.624-641

    Mendus, Susan Care and Human Rights. A Reply to Virginia Held, in Cruft R., Liao S. M., and Renzo M. (eds.) Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford: 2015, p.642-652