The last few decades have seen a lively philosophical debate surrounding human rights. Allen Buchanan’s book The Heart of Human Rights constitutes an important and novel contribution to this debate, focusing on the moral dimensions of international legal human rights (ILHRs) and the institutions responsible for their existence and implementation.
In this essay, Miller throws doubt on Allen Buchanan’s claim that to understand the system of international legal human rights, we must acknowledge not only their “well-being function” but also a second function that he calls their “status egalitarian function.”
Buchanan responds to some of the points made by each of the contributors to the symposium, making his case for taking international laws and institutions seriously and urging scholars to continue this discussion.
This essay focuses on the tension between robust international law (RIL) and democratic constitutions. The author argues that Buchanan is broadly correct about the nature of the relationship between RIL and constitutional democracy, but that the tension between them runs deeper than his discussion allows us to see.
Andrea Sangiovanni argues that the existence of an underlying moral right is a necessary part of any successful justification of an International Legal Human Right (ILHR). This underlying moral right need not have precisely the same content as the ILHR it aids in justifying, but it must serve as an essential part of the rationale for the implementation of the ILHR.
In this essay, Zucca argues that some philosophers’ optimism about international human rights legal practice is misguided. He argues that human rights law is not robust and its practice lacks shape and strength. Further, the gap between ideals and practice is only likely to increase rather than the other way around.
In recent years philosophical discussions of human rights have focused on the question of whether “humanist” and “political” conceptions of human rights are genuinely incompatible or whether some kind of synthesis between them may be possible.