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Max Weber and the Origin of Human Rights: A Study on Cultural Innovation

Hans Joas

University of Erfurt

May 2006

IIIS Discussion Paper No. 145

There can be little doubt that a belief in human rights and the dignity of the human person is one of the most important characteristics of our time, at least since the end of the Second World War and to an even greater degree following the collapse of communism in Europe. While this development was anticipated by a few sociological theorists, such as Émile Durkheim, it stands in sharp tension with the gloomy prognoses about the future that Max Weber formulated on various occasions. What is more, since human rights are rarely discussed in Weber's gigantic oeuvre, the question of their origins may at first seem rather marginal for the study of his work. However, it can be shown that the origin of this value complex - so central to the modern age - yields an interesting perspective on several aspects of Weber's sociology.

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Date posted: August 12, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Joas, Hans, Max Weber and the Origin of Human Rights: A Study on Cultural Innovation (May 2006). IIIS Discussion Paper No. 145. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=923846 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.923846

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Hans Joas (Contact Author)
University of Erfurt ( email )
Internationales Buro
Nordhaeuser Str. 63
D - 99089 Erfurt
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