Encyclopedia of Business and Professional Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: Deborah C Poff, Alex C. Michalos

Human Rights

  • John Douglas Bishop
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-23514-1_116-1



The theory of human rights is an ethical or moral theory; that is, human rights language evaluates actions as being ethically good or evil and socioeconomic-political institutions as being just and unjust. Human rights theory is a type of deontological theory because it concerns the ethical duties of humans. This is not immediately obvious because human rights theory emphasizes people’s rights, but every rights claim is a claim about the duties that other people and entities owe the rights-holder. Human rights theory is really a theory about the duties and obligations of others.

Types of Rights and How Human Rights Relate to Other Types of Rights

Rights can be categorized depending on the grounds on which the right is claimed. Human rights claims are usually based either on ethical theory (e.g., Sumner 1987) or on recognized international declarations of...

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  1. Cragg W (2012) Business and human rights. Edward Elgar, CheltenhamGoogle Scholar
  2. Ruggie J (2008) Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights. (A/HRC/8/5). United Nations Human Rights CouncilGoogle Scholar
  3. Sumner LW (1987) The moral Foundation of Rights. Claredon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Available at http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/. Downloaded 16 Nov 2017

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • John Douglas Bishop
    • 1
  1. 1.Trent UniversityPeterboroughCanada