Business Ethics - Philosophy of Human Rights

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Philosophy of Human Rights Reading 1. Denis Arnold, “The Human Rights Obligations of Multinational Corporations” I have had the opportunity to teach a number of courses on the philosophy of human rights. To supplement the Arnold reading, I thought that I would give you some basic background regarding the central philosophical and legal debates over the nature of human rights. What are human rights? Human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses. Examples of human rights are the right to freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial when charged with a crime, the right not to be tortured, and the right to engage in political activity. These…show more content…
Sixth, human rights are high-priority norms. Maurice Cranston held that human rights are matters of “paramount importance” and their violation “a grave affront to justice” (Cranston 1967). This does not mean, however, that we should take human rights to be absolute. As James Griffin says, human rights should be understood as “resistant to trade-offs, but not too resistant” (Griffin 2001b). The high priority of human rights needs support from a plausible connection with fundamental human interests or powerful normative considerations. Seventh, human rights require robust justifications that apply everywhere and support their high priority. Without this they cannot withstand cultural diversity and national sovereignty. Robust justifications are powerful but need not be understood as ones that are irresistible. Eighth, human rights are rights, but not necessarily in a strict sense. As rights they have several features. One is that they have rightholders — a person or agency having a particular right. Broadly, the rightholders of human rights are all people living today. Another feature of rights is that they focus on a freedom, protection, status, or benefit for the rightholders. Rights also have addressees who are assigned duties or responsibilities. A person's human rights are not primarily rights against the United

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