The Honor of Human Rights: Environmental Rights and the Duty of Intergenerational Promise
The idea of human rights either as a moral system or as a set of legal practices does not sit well with the concept of honor. This is true for both ontological reasons and because of some reprehensible misuses of the term in constructs such as “honor killings.” Yet the absence of honor as an argument for human rights comes with a high cost in the defense of human rights generally. As Hobbes made clear in his early theory, rights—and dignity—are grounded in the human capacity to make promises and in the necessity of honoring them. In his view then, honor is an essential feature of human rights and one closely linked to the human capacity for dignity. In this article, I explore how environmental human rights place a renewed emphasis on honor as a requirement for the protection of the rights of future generations. In the process, I explore the general relationship between honor, dignity, and human rights.