Human Rights and Liberal Toleration

52 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2009 Last revised: 7 Aug 2009

David A. Reidy

University of Tennessee - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: July 19, 2009


In this paper (revised 8/01/09, revised again 8/07/09)), I respond to Jim Nickel's criticisms of John Rawls's conception of human rights in 'The Law of Peoples.' In the process, and in the context of developing what I take to be a Rawlsian position on human rights, I explore the relationships between human rights and two forms of liberal toleration. I close by noting four fault lines running beneath the surface of a good deal of contemporary theoretical debate over human rights. I suggest that advancing that debate is unlikely absent closer and fuller attention to these fault lines.

Keywords: human rights, liberalism, international relations, justice, Rawls, toleration, humanitarian intervention

Suggested Citation

Reidy, David A., Human Rights and Liberal Toleration (July 19, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

David A. Reidy (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee - Department of Philosophy ( email )

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