Deliberating About Cosmopolitan Ideas: Does a Democratic Conception of Human Rights Make Sense?

Olivier de Frouville (ed.), Le Cosmopolitisme Juridique (Paris: Pedone, Forthcoming)

20 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2014

See all articles by Steven Wheatley

Steven Wheatley

Law School, University of Lancaster

Date Written: August 01, 2014

Abstract

One of the major theory-based problems for human rights is that they lack an agreed ontological foundation. The objective of this chapter is to consider whether it is possible to justify global human rights by reference to an application of deliberative democracy to world society, given that the relevant community of fate is the unbounded human species. Three approaches can be seen in the literature: human rights as globalized constitutional rights (the position advanced by Jürgen Habermas); human rights as global constitutional rights; and human rights as a global ethic arrived at through reasoned deliberations. This consensus literature can, though, be contrasted with work that understands human rights as the politics of dissensus – the product of outrage and emotion, not reason. Drawing on the insights from the social systems theories of Niklas Luhmann and Gunther Teubner, this work considers the implications of the dissensus literature, concluding that human rights becomes meaningful primarily as an argument against politics. The contingent and contested device of the human ‘face’, which demands inclusion in the system and complains of violations of physical and psychological integrity, allows for a global (cosmopolitan) conversation around ‘being human’ – and provides the starting point for any discussion of the idea of human rights.

Keywords: Human rights, deliberation, social systems, dissensus

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Wheatley, Steven, Deliberating About Cosmopolitan Ideas: Does a Democratic Conception of Human Rights Make Sense? (August 01, 2014). Olivier de Frouville (ed.), Le Cosmopolitisme Juridique (Paris: Pedone, Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2485068

Steven Wheatley (Contact Author)

Law School, University of Lancaster ( email )

Lancaster LA1 4YX
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/law/profiles/steven-wheatley

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