ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
-A A +A

Thinking through Rights-Exploring Grey Areas in the Theory

Contemporary thinking on rights is marked by deep and profound philosophical scepticism on the issue. The core of the problem as critics identify it is as follows; rights theories, they argue, subscribe to an outmoded concept of a transcendental human nature, without regard for specific cultural and historical traditions. Richard Rorty's philosophy is representative of this strain of thought. From another vantage point, that of Michel Foucault's, for example, comes the argument, that the idea that there is an essential human nature upon which we can pin rights is pure fiction. Dismissal of the concept of a transcendental human nature has had profound consequences for both the moral basis of rights, as well as the political weight ascribed to them. This dismissal, I consider, has left us without a handle to negotiate moral and political problems. This essay explores the grey areas in rights theory and charts out the consequences of abandoning the notion that there is something valuable about human nature which we must protect through rights.

Subscribers please login to access full text of the article.

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

826for India

$50for overseas users

Get instant access to the complete EPW archives

Subscribe now

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top