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A number of important philosophical books and articles on the topic of human rights have appeared in recent years including James Nickel’s Making Sense of Human Rights, James Griffin’s On Human Rights, Charles R. Beitz’s The Idea of Human Rights, Martha Nussbaum’s Creating Capabilities, Allen Buchanan’s Heart of Human Rights, and John Tasioulas’s various articles and his planned monograph on human rights.

Readers of Ethics Etc might be interested in a paper of mine called “Human Rights as Fundamental Conditions for a Good Life,” which appears in a forthcoming volume that Rowan Cruft, Massimo Renzo and I have edited called the Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights, and in which I defend what I take to be a new substantive account of human rights. A copy of the paper can be found here and here is an abstract of the paper:

What grounds human rights? How do we determine that something is a genuine human right? In this paper, I offer a new answer: human beings have human rights to what I call the fundamental conditions for pursuing a good life. These are certain goods, capacities and options that human beings qua human beings need whatever else they (qua individuals) might need in order to pursue a characteristically good human life. I call this the Fundamental Conditions Approach. Among other things, I explain how this way of grounding human rights is better than James Griffin’s Agency Approach and Martha Nussbaum’s Central Capabilities Approach, and I also show how it can be compatible with the increasingly popular Political Conceptions of human rights defended by John Rawls, Charles Beitz and Joseph Raz.


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