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The Philosophical Understanding of Human Rights

The Philosophical Understanding of Human Rights
$29.00
Item Code: NAW051
Author: Benulal Dhar
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2013
ISBN: 9788124607145
Pages: 202
Cover: HARDCOVER
Other Details: 9.00 X 6.00 inch
About the Book
Human rights is a topic that gets vividly and seriously debated at varied platforms, globally. The concept of human rights has a rich philosophical and theoretical tradition, and its philosophical dimension deserves proper attention. Having given an account of the origins and historical development of the idea of human rights, the book investigates the doctrine of natural rights and its critiques, and assesses the world-view that has affected its formulations.

The work also presents a clear exposition of some contemporary philosophical theories of rights developed independently of the natural rights paradigm and discusses the theories wherein the conception of rights is found to be compatible with utilitarianism. And, finally, while briefly arguing for discursive understanding of human rights based on the diversity of morals that is embedded in different cultural traditions of the world and for reconstruction of the conception of human rights in more inclusive and cross-cultural terms, the author analyses the conception of human dignity from the Vedantic perspective as a case study, which is regarded as an important underlying principle of human rights.

The volume is intended to introduce students and practitioners of human rights, and general readers to the philosophy of human rights.

About the Author
Beulah Dear is a senior faculty and teaches philosophy at Susana Mahavidyalaya (University of North Bengal), West Bengal, India. He works in the area of philosophy of human rights and phenomenological ethics. He was a recipient of DAAD fellowship under Indo-German Cultural Exchange Programme and studied philosophy sometime at Tubingen University, Germany. He is the author of Phenomenological Ethics (2008), The Central Themes of Material Ethics: Values, Experience, and Person (2011) and a number of research papers published in reputed academic journals.

Preface
IT is now generally agreed that the present social, political and economic orders all over the globe are needed to be based on some conception of the rights of man, and this is to ensure the minimum security and justice to the life of people suffered by violence and oppression. Human rights provide a shield to safeguard human individual or group of individuals from all sorts of arbitrariness and tyranny caused by the state or other agents and aim at transforming the present world into a better and a more just world. Keeping in view this practical urgency, the more stress is laid on the application of human rights, i.e. is, how the violations of various human rights can be prevented or how the rights can be implemented in people's lives than on critically understanding the concept itself and problems it involves at theoretical or philosophical level. Under the immense pressure of rescuing people from injustice and tyranny, the philosophical problems are often ignored or kept in abeyance. In order to remedy the situation, a modest attempt has been made in the present study to identify and analyse the central issues contained in the rich philosophical tradition of human rights beginning with early modern period to contemporary times.

Having given an account of the origins and historical development of the idea of human rights, the present study analyses the doctrine of natural rights and its critiques, and assesses the world-view that has affected its formulations. The work also presents a clear exposition of some contemporary theories of rights developed independently of the natural rights paradigm as also the theories wherein the conception of rights is found to be compatible with utilitarianism. And while briefly arguing for discursive understanding of human rights based on the diversity of morals that is embedded in different cultural traditions of the world and for reconstruction of the conception of human rights in more inclusive and cross-cultural terms, the present work analyses the conception of human dignity from the Vedantic perspective as a case study, which is regarded as an important underlying principle of human rights.

A preface is perhaps the only place in a study where one can strike a personal note. My own interest in the philosophy of human rights dates from 1997, the year in which I came in touch with Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) based in the state of West Bengal, India. This organization works for democratic and human rights generally independently but sometimes in coagulation with other non-state groups and bodies. As a well-wisher member of this human and democratic rights body, I have always been more focused on the philosophical dimension of human rights than involved in its activism. Accordingly, I have been engaged in collecting study materials from different libraries as also in reading and writing on the topic, which have been going on at a very slow pace. The present work is the outcome of my intellectual exercise with the idea of human rights during all these years.

Introduction
HUMAN rights are now one of the animated subjects of study and discussion from various perspectives, such as legal, political, historical and, of course, philosophical in view of their widespread application in the social, political and economic life of people in recent times all over the globe. As an operative idea of today's life, the discourse of human rights is mainly oriented towards activism. The horror of Second World War has given the impetus to be more concerned with the practice of human rights in the social, political and economic life of people. And in order to reinforce this effort, UN Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 was adopted. This document is a systematic attempt to secure universal recognition of a wide range of human rights all over the world. Thus all these efforts were focused upon activism rather than on raising philosophical issues relating to the nature, content and justification of human rights. But the concept of human rights has a rich philosophical or theoretical tradition which cannot be ignored. The philosophical dimension of the idea of human rights deserves proper attention. For, in the latter lies the scientific basis of its practice. Though the Western moral and political philosophers from ancient times down to the present era have put forward many theories, and raised many questions and problems with regard to human rights, its philosophical domain is not yet exhausted. Philosophical issues like old habits die hard. On the one hand, the age-old challenges relating to human rights continue to haunt the present-day philosophers, they are also raising path-breaking a questions in view of the emergence of innovative ideas and alterations in the context and temper of modern society and politics on the other. It is in this context of broadening outlook that it is worthwhile to look back on the broad conspectus of human rights theories and ideas. Besides, the claim for human rights to be accepted as universal norm by one and all societies and cultures of the world has also set the stage for critically analysing the relevance of this operative notion as a Western cultural construct to other cultures. Therefore the challenges and issues that are raised by philosophers with regard to human rights in the changing context of society, morality, culture and politics call for a thorough philosophical analysis and critical examination in order to grapple afresh with the whole gamut of practical issues relating to them. The present work proposes to move in this direction.

The Challenges

Some of the challenges to be addressed within the present study would include:

1. What are rights in general, and what are human rights in particular?

2. What are the distinctive features of human rights that distinguish them from other rights?

3. How the notion of natural rights is distinguished from contemporary concept of human rights?

4. What features of human beings justify the claim that they are entitled to have some intrinsic and inalienable rights?

5. Can human rights represent a universal moral standard?

Are cultures, other than the Western, potential grounds; path-breaking for developing some such conceptions of rights on their alive ideas and own?

Above all, this work presents the diverse perspectives and idening outlook philosophical controversies on rights, which will help readers d conspectus of to understand what constitute human rights and how they laim for human occupy an essential place in our contemporary social and and all societies political life.

What Does Philosophical Understanding Mean?

Let us now proceed by asking a crucial question: What does it with regard to mean by the philosophical understanding of human rights?

First, the primary task of any philosophical approach to) phisycal analysis human rights, for that matter, to any topic, is to lay bare the afresh with the meaning of the concept itself, which at its first encounter with? in. The present us is likely to remain obscure and unintelligible. Philosophic endeavour makes explicit what is implicit, and exposes what is covered up. So the understanding of human rights from the philosophical perspective means to become clearly aware of in the present the vague and unconscious assumptions underlying the idea, which are operative in our lives and guide our practical actions e human rights relating to it. It is essential that we discover these assumptions lying behind the conception if we do not want to be driven Nan rights that blindly in our effort to implement the idea in the social and political life. In short, it is the expository effort of philosophy -anguished from that would clarify the presuppositions of human rights conception, and thereby it would deepen our understanding of its truth.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages











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