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Radical Philosophy Today

Volume 4, 2006

Philosophy Against Empire

Kory P. Schaff
Pages 261-267

Are There Human Rights?

Guided by Hegel’s claim that rights are actual only with the modern state, and noting that the “abstract spirit of Kant’s cosmopolitanism” is pervasive in Carol Gould’s Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights, Schaff raises a variety of moral, political, and ontological objections to her account of rights. Most controversially, he argues that if we embrace with Gould the idea that people have rights even if their political community does not grant them, we may play into the hands of imperial aggression cloaked in human rights language—as exemplified by the justificatory rhetoric of the U.S. in support of its recent interventions and its ongoing occupation of Iraq. [Abstract prepared by the Editors.]

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