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The Image of God: Rights, Reason, and Order

Jeremy Waldron

New York University School of Law; University of Oxford

November 30, 2010

NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-85

The idea that humans are created in the image of God is often cited as a foundation for human rights theory. In this paper, this use of imago dei is surveyed, and while the paper is basically favorable to this foundation, it draws attention to some difficulties (both theological and practical) that using imago dei as a foundation for human rights may involve. Also it explores the suggestion that the image of God idea may be more apt as a foundation for some rights rather than others. Its use in relation to political rights is specifically explored. The moral of the discussion is that foundations do make a difference. We should not expect that, if we simply nail this idea onto the underside of a body of human rights theory as a foundation, everything in the theory will remain as it is.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: death penalty, foundationalism, human rights, image of God, political liberalism, political rights, religion, rights, secularism

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Date posted: December 2, 2010 ; Last revised: December 15, 2010

Suggested Citation

Waldron, Jeremy, The Image of God: Rights, Reason, and Order (November 30, 2010). NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 10-85. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1718054

Contact Information

Jeremy Waldron (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
University of Oxford ( email )
Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom
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