Arguments for the Normative Validity of Human Rights: Philosophical Predecessors and Contemporary Criticisms of the 1789 French Declaration of Human and Civic Rights

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The paper highlights clashes between different conceptions of right, law and justice crystalizing in the French Declaration of Human and Civic Rights from 1789 and the criticisms it aroused. Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651) and Rousseau’s Social Contract (1762) are discussed as important predecessors. The philosophical conceptions of law, justice and right stated by Hobbes and Rousseau and in the Declaration will be discussed in connection with two seminal criticisms. By excluding women from politics, Olympe de Gouge objected, the Declaration contradicted the universal understanding of human rights. Jeremy Bentham protested against the Declaration’s core idea of inalienable human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

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