Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Where Hope meets Expectation on the Road between Human Rights Idealism and Pragmatism

HUMAN RIGHTS: OLD PROBLEMS AND NEW POSSIBILITIES, Kinley, Sadurski, Walton, eds., Edward Elgar: United Kingdom, 2013

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/98

19 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2011 Last revised: 14 Feb 2013

David Kinley

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: December 11, 2011

Abstract

As a concept, human rights have application and impact at both the levels of an aspirational ideal and pragmatic implementation. The differences between the two perspectives are evident in rhetoric as well as legal and policy pronouncements, often rubbing along relatively uncontroversially in Western democracies. The prevailing circumstance of human rights today is in fact largely the result of a continuous process of compromise. Pendulum swings between ‘ought’ and ‘is’, with tendencies veering towards one or other end apparent across human rights as a whole, and within individual rights at different times and conditions. In this essay I discuss briefly five examples of human rights circumstance (moral; legal; political; economic and cultural) where the idealistic/pragmatist divide is especially sharp with the aims of illustrating the lines of transmission between human rights idealism and pragmatism, explaining the significance of the compromises reached in these examples, and highlighting the critical points of stress or opportunity exhibited in each.

Keywords: human rights, philosophy, international law, international relations

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Kinley, David, Where Hope meets Expectation on the Road between Human Rights Idealism and Pragmatism (December 11, 2011). HUMAN RIGHTS: OLD PROBLEMS AND NEW POSSIBILITIES, Kinley, Sadurski, Walton, eds., Edward Elgar: United Kingdom, 2013; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/98. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1971011

David Kinley (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Paper statistics

Downloads
130
Rank
185,024
Abstract Views
1,159