The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 105–122 | Cite as

Rawls on Human Rights: A Review Essay

  • Burleigh WilkinsEmail author


In this essay, I first evaluate the conceptual analysis of human rights by Wilfried Hinsch and Markus Stepanians. Next I criticize Allen Buchanan’s claim that Rawls did not address basic human interests/capabilities theories of human nature. I argue Buchanan is doubly mistaken when he claims that John Rawls sought to avoid such theories because they are comprehensive doctrines. Then I evaluate David Reidy’s defense of Rawls, while questioning his efforts to show how Rawls’s list of human rights could be expanded. Finally, I accept James Nickel’s argument that Rawls has tied human rights too closely to intervention on their behalf. However, I reject his, and by implication Rawls’s, refusal to accept a two-tiered approach to human rights.


Basic human interests/capabilities theories Allen Buchanan burdened peoples David A. Reidy duties of third parties Henry Shue human rights intervention James W. Nickel John Rawls Amartya Sen Markus Stepanians Wilfried Hinsch 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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