This module is concerned with examining the shift toward an increasingly secular understanding of natural law and natural rights theories dealing with authors belonging to the early modern age from Grotius to Kant. This shift is marked by the emergence of two corresponding theories : a secular state of nature from which people implicitly contract into civil society and an international state of nature from which states explicitly contract into treaties and international law. This part of the course examines how these new theories employ both traditional and innovative understandings of the rights and duties of individuals, communities , states, and international society as a whole
This module analyses an important shift or transition from natural law and natural rights to human rights . It will examine the redefinition of rights as human rights through two rights revolutions in the XVIII century: the American Revolution as primarily a natural rights revolution and the French Revolution as a human rights revolution. This part of the program will conclude by reading conflicting assessments of these rights revolutions, considering how the outcomes of these revolutions continue to inform and are appeald to by modern human rights traditions.
Although discussions of international and global issues often make reference to the notion of human rights, their philosophical foundation (or lack thereof), their claim to cross-cultural universality, and their ability to be a sort of secularized religion of mankind are far from uncontroversial. These issues are nowadays widely debated among philosophers, international relations theorists, sociologists and anthropologists. The class aims to introduce students to the debate and to stimulate independent yet informed thinking on the subject. In particular, we shall study the most influential philosophical theories that have attempted to provide a 'foundation' of human rights, i.e. an account of why they are supposed to be rights that humans have merely in virtue of their humanity.
Building upon the theoretical work of the preceding part, this section offers an application of the philosophical doctrines studied to concrete problems of contemporary global politics such as the right to humanitarian intervention, now better known as 'responsibility to protect', the problematic relation between human rights and the Islamic culture, the relations between human rights and democracy and that between human rights and egalitarianism.
I. J. FINNIS, Natural Law and Natural Rights, Oxford, 2011
II. R. TUCK, Natural Rights Theories: Their Origin and Development, Cambridge, 1979
III. M. ISHAY, The History of Human Rights: from Ancient Times to the Globalization Era, University of California Press, 1996
I. L. HUNT, The French Revolution and Human Rights : A Brief Documentary History, Bedford, 1996
II. M. ISHAY, The History of Human Rights: from Ancient Times to the Globalization Era, University of California Press, 1996
III. S. MOYN, The Last Utopia : Human Rights in History, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012 (paperback edition)