Human rights and the legitimacy of the international order

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47 Scopus citations


The international legal order is beginning to take human rights seriously, yet sound justifications for claims about human rights are conspicuously absent. Philosophers have begun to respond to this “justification deficit” by developing theories of human rights. Although a philosophical conception of human rights is needed, it would not be sufficient. The justification of human rights is a dynamic process in which a provisional philosophical conception of human rights both guides and is fleshed out by public processes of practical reasoning structured by legal institutions. Whether the “justification deficit” can be remedied depends not only upon the content of human rights norms as set out in the major conventions and the arguments philosophers can marshal to justify them but also upon the epistemic virtues of the institutions through which the norms are specified, contested, and revised over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-70
Number of pages32
JournalLegal Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Law


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