A unique volume designed to provoke an ongoing dialogue about fundamental human rights in our society
Edited by renowned scholars, Judith Blau and Mark Frezzo, this groundbreaking anthology examines the implications that human rights have for the social sciences. The book provides readers with a wide-ranging collection of articles, each written by experts in their fields who argue for an expansion of fundamental human rights in the United States. To provide an international context, the volume covers the human rights treaties that have been incorporated into the constitutions of many countries throughout the world, including wealthy nations such as Spain and Sweden and impoverished countries such as Bolivia and Croatia.
Chapter 1: Introduction
The Definition of Human Rights
We begin with the most fundamental question in the field: What are human rights? By definition, human rights are a set of protections and entitlements held by all members of the human species—irrespective of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, or national origin. If membership in the human community is the only precondition for human rights, then the same protections and entitlements should be available across the global system. In appealing to universalism—the regulative idea that all humans have the same fundamental needs, deserts, and aspirations—rights discourse stresses the importance of eliminating inequalities not only within nation-states, but also between them. In light of its intrinsic and irreducible universalism, rights discourse has a direct bearing on the policies and ...