Law and Philosophy

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 135–153 | Cite as

Interpreting the Political Theory in the Practice of Human Rights

  • Brooke AckerlyEmail author


In this discussion of The Heart of Human Rights, I support Allen Buchanan’s pursuit of a theory-in-practice methodology for interpreting the foundations and meaning of international legal human rights from within the practice. Following my use of that methodology, I recharacterize the theory of rights revealed by this methodology as political not moral. I clarify the import of this interpretation of international legal human rights for two problems that trouble Buchanan: (1) whether the scope of ‘basic equal status’ is a global or an ‘intrasocial’ standard and (2) whether there is a ‘proliferation’ of rights that risks undermining the legitimacy of international legal human rights. I argue that the scope of basic equal status is global and that the practice of making what he calls ‘new’ rights claims is part of the practice of human rights.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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