Republicanism and Human Rights

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Abstract

I aim to show that republican political theory and its commitment to a particular way of conceptualising freedom in society has potential to revitalize how we think about human rights. From a republican perspective, the aims of a politics of human rights are – in negative terms – to end exploitation, vulnerability and precarity, and – in positive terms – to establish a society of equals in a free political culture. I discuss three aspects of a republican approach to human rights: first, a unifying principle for what rights there are (or what rights people have, if you prefer) without having to rely on a contested ontology of the human person or a contested moral theory of what a good human life looks like. Second, an analytical context for explicating what it is to have rights or what a human right is or can be. Third, an alternative and politically challenging answer to the question what the point of human rights are. I suggest that we think about rights within republican theory as egalitarian levers, in a sense that will be explained. The three aspects of a republican approach to human rights serve to underline that a theoretical exploration of human rights needs to attend to the extension of human rights (what rights there are (in the world)), the concept (what we mean by a human right or how we use it), and the rationale for thinking in these terms at all (what the point of human rights is or what kind of work we want human rights to do).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Republicanism
EditorsMortimer Sellers, Frank Lovett
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197754115
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy

Free keywords

  • human rights
  • republicanism

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