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Volume 10, 1984

Alan S. Rosenbaum
Pages 543-565

On the Philosophical Foundations of the Conception of Human Rights

In this paper I shall defend the thesis that differing concepts of human nature (or “personhood”) lead to different ideas about what “human rights” are, about what types there are, and how rights are to be ranked according to priority. Though some correlation is obvious, as evidenced in the literature, political forums, and in case studies of many nation-states, the question that we will consider is whether this correlation is a causal relationship or whether it is merely accidental and hence, not worthy of any but passing notice. But if, as I believe, some definite causal connection, perhaps in combination with other factors does exist, we are quite right in focusing attention on the disparate “personhood” concepts or foundation level which lies uncovered and central to such disagreements about human rights.

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