The Right to Life: Religious, Philosophical, and Legal Origins

Elizabeth Wicks

in The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199547395
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594373 | DOI:
The Right to Life: Religious, Philosophical, and Legal Origins

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This chapter investigates the human origins of the idea that human life has an inherent value. The concept has religious and philosophical roots and serves as the underlying principle for the modern day right to life. We see its development from a religious belief in the sanctity of human life, through philosophical musings about why human life is valuable and whether individuals enjoy certain rights by virtue of their humanity, to the gradual development of a right to life in international law. It is discovered that a concept of the sanctity of human life is not specific to any single human culture. The universally recognized value in human life, when combined with a natural law philosophy and widespread moral revulsion at the disregard for human life during the Holocaust, cemented itself into a legally recognized international human right to life in the mid twentieth century.

Keywords: sanctity of life; religion; philosophy; international human rights treaties

Chapter.  13890 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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