Does Human Rights Need God?

By Elizabeth M. Bucar; Barbra Barnett | Go to book overview

Afterword

JEAN BETHKE ELSHTAIN

In 1998, fifty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a vigorous debate ensued on the theme of what sort of legitimation or justification human rights required. Arguments and opinions varied. For some, God must be in the picture: how else to explain the premise of human dignity that underscores nearly all universalist evocations of human rights? If God did not grant all of his children an inviolable dignity, then who or what did? Are we to take the premise of human dignity as a Kiplingesque “just so” story? That doesn’t seem a very sturdy foundation upon which to erect something as fundamental, powerful, and important as human rights.

There are other bases, critics responded, than the theistic one. Perhaps one might make recourse to nature and nature’s laws, although here the post-Darwinian understanding of nature and the survival of the fittest does not seem the stuff out of which human rights is derived. Nature preDarwin could be appealed to in a strongly teleological sense. But nature post-Darwin seems a rather different sort of entity — far more likely to feed the fancies of authors of tomes arguing that pitying and trying to spare the weakest and least fit is womanish sentimentalism (though “womanish” would likely be avoided in a day and age when sensitivity about gender, if not about weakness, is pervasive). There are all sorts of ways to dress the thesis of survival of the fittest up in its Sunday-best, of course, so it sounds a good bit less harsh. We are more likely, therefore, to read about “evolutionary strategies” than about a harsh neo-Darwinism, but, one way or the other, it comes down to the conclusion that, if nature structures anything, it is the quest for survival. Although the new natural law thinkers, represented in this volume, are doing their best to revive the older notion of natural law as it indeed survives, especially in Thomistic philosophy and theology, theirs is often a lonely struggle.

-292-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Does Human Rights Need God?
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved in your active project from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 391

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.