The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 2007

Human Rights

Şener Aktürk
Pages 37-44

Perspectives on Daniel Bell's East Asian Challenge to Human Rights
East Asian Challenge or Alternative Trends within Modern Thought?

The paper discusses situation-specific justifications for temporary curtailment of particular human rights, Asian justifications for Western values and human rights practices, and the plausibility of a distinctively East Asian conception of human interest and welfare that may justify a distinctively East Asian human rights regime. The paper argues that the so-called East Asian challenge is the prioritization of social and economic rights over civil and political rights and hence does not represent a culturally specific challenge but rather addresses a debate between commi. ütarians and liberals which already exists in the Western scholarly community. Marxist and other nonliberal critiques of civil and political rights are invoked and it is suggested that the relative weakness of the left intelligentsia since the end of the Cold W-r is responsible for the resurfacing of the formerly communitarian and Marxist emphasis on social and economic rights in cultural relativist disguise. The article further chums that it was through the industrial revolution and the corresponding discourse of modernity that these rights emerged within the theocentric cultural traditions of Wesiern Europe, and that the flourishing of human rights discourse in non-Western socie.!;.es will also follow and correspond to their economic development.