, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 53-66
Date: 11 Apr 2009

Suffering, Sympathy, and (Environmental) Security: Reassessing Rorty’s Contribution to Human Rights Theory

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Abstract

This article reassess Rorty’s contribution to human rights theory. It addresses two key questions: (1) Does Rorty sustain his claim that there are no morally relevant transcultural facts? (2) Does Rorty’s proposed sentimental education offer an adequate response to contemporary human rights challenges? Although both questions are answered in the negative, it is argued here that Rorty’s focus on suffering, sympathy, and security, offer valuable resources to human rights theorists. The article concludes by considering the idea of a dual approach to human rights, combining Rorty’s emphasis on sentiment with an analysis of patterns of responsibility for the underfulfilment of human rights.