Chapter

The Moral Argument

Arvind Sharma

in Are Human Rights Western?

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195679489
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081714 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195679489.003.0002
The Moral Argument

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This chapter examines the moral claim that human rights are Western. It contends: to assert that human rights are Western in a moral sense is not to assert that other cultures or civilizations are not moral. It could also be argued that human rights are more a procedural than a moral matter. While the moral argument may be used to claim that human rights are Western, when it comes to the question of universal human rights, the situation becomes more ambiguous. This might, however, be true of other traditions as well, though in a slightly different sense. Harmonizing the traditions with human rights discourse may entail adjustments. For instance, Louis Henkin points out that, in terms of human rights discourse, traditional Confucianism addressed the ‘actor — the ruler, the scholar, the sage, the official; human rights focus on the “rights holder”, on the object of action, on the “victim”’. He however sees no inherent tension between Confucianism and human rights.

Keywords: human rights; moral claim; West; universal human rights; Confucianism; Louis Henkin

Chapter.  4824 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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