A Pluralist Approach to the Practice of Human Rights

36 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2014 Last revised: 5 Jun 2015

See all articles by Johan Karlsson Schaffer

Johan Karlsson Schaffer

University of Gothenburg - School of Global Studies; University of Oslo - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 4, 2014

Abstract

How should we go about interpreting an international practice, such as human rights? In recent years, the so-called ‘practice turn’ has garnered much interest in International Relations and political philosophy. In this paper, I suggest a pluralist approach to the practice of human rights. Where existing methods for locating practices tend to presuppose that a practice must have a stable defining idea or purpose, or privilege one interpretive element – foundational texts, ultimate values, or the motives of practitioners – in the reconstruction of the practice, the pluralist approach grants that any such inquiry must negotiate between all three types of elements. Drawing on prominent contributions to the methodology of studying human rights practice and illuminating examples from the recent historiography and philosophy of human rights, I shall argue that this ‘mixed methods’ approach fits especially well with how we interpret the practice of human rights.

Keywords: human rights, practice turn, practice-dependence, methodology, pluralism

Suggested Citation

Karlsson Schaffer, Johan, A Pluralist Approach to the Practice of Human Rights (June 4, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2490964 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2490964

Johan Karlsson Schaffer (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - School of Global Studies ( email )

POB 700
Gothenburg, SE 40530
Sweden

University of Oslo - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 6706 St Olavsplass
Oslo, 0130
Norway

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