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With human rights issues so often in the public view today, it is surprising how seldom the underpinnings of human rights are discussed. In this book leading scholars, activists, and officials dare to openly discuss the "why" of human rights. Appraising the current situation from diverse religious perspectives--Jewish, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Confucian, and secular humanist--the contributors address the question of what God might add to the human rights equation. Despite the authors' widely varying commitments, their dialogue demonstrates that an investigation into the "why" of human rights need not descent into irreconcilable conflict.
When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in 1945, French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain observed, "We agree on these rights, providing we are not asked why. With the 'why,' the dispute begins." The world since then has continued to agree to disagree, fearing that an open discussion of the divergent rationales for human rights would undermine the consensus of the Declaration. Is it possible, however, that current failures to protect human rights may stem from this tacit agreement to avoid addressing the underpinnings of human rights?
This consequential volume presents leading scholars, activists, and officials from four continents who dare to discuss the "why" behind human rights. Appraising the current situation from diverse religious perspectives -- Jewish, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Confucian, and secular humanist -- the contributors openly address the question whether God is a necessary part of human rights. Despite their widely varying commitments and approaches, the authors affirm that an investigation into the "why" of human rights need not devolve into irreconcilable conflict.
Contributors:"Khaled Abou El Fadl
Elizabeth M. Bucar
Jean Bethke Elshtain
Robert P. George
Courtney W. Howland
Robert A. Seiple
Max L. Stackhouse
Anthony C. Yu"
Barbra Barnett is a doctoral candidate in ethics at theUniversity of Chicago Divinity School and has served asresearch associate for the Pew Forum on Religion and PublicLife.
Elizabeth M. Bucar is assistant professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has served as a research associate with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.