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Human Rights Review

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 157–165 | Cite as

The Theory of Universal Human Rights: A Comment on Talbott

  • Carol C. Gould
Article
  • 110 Downloads

Abstract

In this analysis of William Talbott’s important book, I note with appreciation his defense of universal moral principles and of moral justification as a “social project,” his focus on the critique of oppression, and his emphasis on empathic understanding in the account of human rights. I go on to develop some criticisms regarding: 1) Talbott’s traditional understanding of human rights as holding against governments and not also applying to nonstate actors; 2) his account of the interrelations among well-being, autonomy, claims for first person authority in moral judgment, and human rights; 3) his strongly rationalist and liberal individualist interpretation of moral judgment and autonomy; and 4) the lack of a role for intercultural dialogue about human rights, which nonetheless are held to apply to all human beings across cultures. In each case, I briefly consider what an alternative approach would look like.

Keywords

Moral Judgment Psychological Control Feminist Theorist Moral Justification Social Ontology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the participants in the original APA session for their helpful comments and especially my fellow panelists James Nickel, David Reidy, and William Talbott.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCenter for Global Ethics and Politics at Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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