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Part III Regimes and Doctrines, Ch.34 Theorizing Human Rights

Ben Golder

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law

Edited By: Anne Orford, Florian Hoffmann

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 24 June 2024

Human rights remedies — Responsibility of international organizations — General principles of international law — Sources of international law

This chapter remarks on the pragmatic element in human rights, focusing on the question of what it means to theorize them through the lens of pragmatism, as well as probing the limits of pragmatism. It aims to provide a conspectus of the way in which some recent and influential thinkers have theorized human rights through the lens of pragmatism, and to problematize this very turn to pragmatism. The argument here is that the critical potential of pragmatism too often ends up re-entrenching a conservative, liberal political vision of human rights even as it licenses extraordinary militarism on behalf of powerful states and the international community.

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