The title of this essay is rather ambitious and the space available is hardly sufficient to examine two words of almost limitless expanse—"human rights"—whether standing alone or in tandem. This requires that I begin with (and remained disciplined by) what a teacher of mine, Leo Strauss, called "low facts." My low facts are these: We call ourselves humans because we have certain characteristics that define our nature. We are social and political animals, as Aristotle noted, and possess attributes not shared by other animals. The ancients noted this, of course, when they defined our principal behavioral and cognitive distinction from the rest of the natural world as the faculty of speech. The Greek word for this, logos, means much more than speech, as it connotes word and reason and, in the more common understanding, talking and writing, praising and criticizing, persuading and reading. While other animals communicate by making sounds of attraction or warning, leaving smells, and so on, none read newspapers, make speeches, publish their memoirs, or write poetry.
Machine generated contents note: Preface Acknowledgements 1-Introduction: Thinking about Human Rights 2-Origins: The Rise and Fall of Natural Rights 3- After 1945: The New Age of Rights 4- Theories of Human Rights 5- Putting Law in its Place: the Role of the Social Sciences 6-Universality, Diversity and Difference Culture and Human Rights 7-The Politics of Human Rights 8-Globalization, Development and Poverty: Economics and Human Rights 9-Conclusion: Human Rights in the Twenty-first Century References
Human Rights: An Introduction is an important and particularly timely text that provides a comprehensive overview of human rights and related issues from a social science perspective. First, this book does more than discuss theory, it uses case studies and personal testimonies in the debate. Human rights as an area of academic interest cannot be easily divorced from human rights struggles and the reality of contemporary conditions. Second, the book is aimed at what is an emerging and growing cross-disciplinary field of study. Human rights issues are increasingly coming to the fo.