The Morality of Human Rights
Human Rights Quarterly 42 (2020) 434–478
46 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2020
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights embodies a particular morality: the morality of human rights (as I call it). In this article--published in the May 2020 issue of the Human Rights Quarterly--I address several questions concerning concerning that morality, beginning with this fundamental question: What reason or reasons do we have, if indeed we have any, to accept, rather than reject, the morality of human rights; more precisely, what reason(s) do we have, if any, to live our lives--and to do what we reasonably can, all things considered, to get our governments to conduct their affairs--in accord with the morality of human rights? Next, I explicate two of the most important parts of the morality of human rights: the human right to moral equality and the human right to moral freedom. Finally, I pursue the implications of those two rights for two ongoing human rights controversies: the controversies concerning, respectively, the criminalization of abortion and the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage.
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