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Part I Theoretical Foundations, Ch.3 Biological Foundations of Human Rights

Chris A Robinson

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Human Rights Law

Edited By: Dinah Shelton

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 21 October 2020

Subject(s):
Aggression — Genocide — Collective rights — Freedom of expression — Reproductive freedom — Right to language — Right to work

This article examines biological theories and evidence about the evolution of human traits that are relevant for the development of human rights law. It highlights the human potential for violent and aggressive acts and discusses the emergence of a biological capacity for altruism. It evaluates the hypothesis about the capacity of groups of animals to maintain cooperative and altruistic behaviours despite competition for resources. This article also considers biological adaptations that have enabled humans to engage regularly in altruistic behaviours towards those outside of their family and immediate group.

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