Universal Human Rights as a Shared Political Identity: Necessary? Sufficient? Impossible?
Metaphilosophy, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 78-91, 2009
15 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2009
Would a global commitment to international human rights norms provide enough of a sense of community to sustain a legitimate and sufficiently democratic global order? Sceptics worry that human rights cannot help maintain the mutual trust among citizens required for a legitimate political order, since such rights are now too broadly shared. Thus prominent contributors to democratic theory insist that the members of the citizenry must share some features unique to them, to the exclusion of others - be it a European identity (Habermas and Derrida 2003) or a national public culture generally shared only by the members (Miller 1995, 2000). This essay considers and rejects these arguments. While stable, democratic redistributive arrangements do require trust and institutionalised means of trustworthiness; they need not rely on norms or values that distinguish members from non-members: such exclusion is not required. Thus human rights may be part of a common political identity.
Keywords: David Miller, Democracy, Exclusion, Human Rights, Jürgen Habermas, Political Identity, Trust
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