What is Living and Dead in Relativism?

Upendra Baxi

in The Future of Human Rights

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780195690439
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081059 | DOI:
What is Living and Dead in Relativism?

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The assertion that ‘contemporary’ human rights are ‘universal’ has come under attack from the standpoints of relativism, anti-foundationalism, and multiculturalism. The idea of the universal in human sciences is typically associated with the project of universalization. The project of ‘universalization’ of human rights, particularly of globalization of human rights, also strains the idea of universality of human rights. Both the forms of advocacy and of the critique of universality remain fraught with fateful implications for the future of human rights. This chapter also explores justifications for human rights, three moments of universality (abstract universality, abstract particularity, and concrete universality), globalization and universality of human rights, the ‘histories’ of universality, human rights authorship, the politics of and for human rights, the confusion between the universality and absoluteness of rights, multiculturalism as postmodern racism, the notion of Westoxification, types of relativism, and the voices of human suffering.

Keywords: Westoxification; relativism; anti-foundationalism; human suffering; human rights; universality; multiculturalism; justifications; politics; racism

Chapter.  17423 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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