Human Rights and Human Diversity

An Essay in the Philosophy of Human Rights

By A. J. M. Milne

Subjects: Philosophy
Paperback : 9780887063671, 186 pages, December 1986
Hardcover : 9780887063664, 186 pages, December 1986

Table of contents



0. 1 Objections to the idea of human rights

0. 2 Human rights as a minimum standard


1 Rules, Principles and Conduct

1. 1 Rules

1. 2 Principles

1. 3 Law and morality

2 Morality and Society

2. 1 What morality is

2. 2 The social basis of morality

2. 3 On a community's interest and its moral implications

3 Moral Universality and Moral Diversity (i)

3. 1 Why moral diversity cannot be total

3. 2 Analysis of 'justice' as 'fair treatment'

3. 3 Exposition of the moral principles of community

3. 4 Common morality and particular morality

4 Moral Diversity (ii): Religion and Ideology

4. 1 Religion

4. 2 Ideology

5 Morality and the 'Categorical Imperative'

5. 1 Exposition and criticism of the 'Categorical Imperative'

5. 2 Kant's humanity principle as the basis for a universal minimum moral standard


6 The Idea of Rights (i)

6. 1 Analysis and exposition of the concept of a right

6. 2 Hohfeld on the concept of a right

7 The Idea of Rights (ii): On the Sources and Significance of Social Rights

7. 1 Positive law and morality as sources of rights

7. 2 Custom as a source of rights

7. 3 On the significance and limitations of rights

8 The Idea of Rights (iii): Human Rights

8. 1 Exposition of human rights as universal minimum moral rights: first stage

8. 2 Exposition of human rights as universal minimum moral rights: second stage

8. 3 Implications and amplifications: first stage

8. 4 Implications and amplifications: second stage

9 Human Rights and Politics

9. 1 On the nature and significance of government

9. 2 Political rights and human rights

9. 3 Domestic politics and human rights

9. 4 International relations and human rights




This original and provocative book is concerned with fundamental questions in moral, political, and legal philosophy. It challenges both supporters and sceptics alike to rethink their ideas about human rights. The author explains that human life is not the same everywhere, noting that there are different traditions of culture and civilization. He argues that an adequate idea of human rights must take such a diversity seriously, and unlike the UN Declaration, it must not presuppose Western institutions and values.

This theory of human rights developed by Milne deals systematically with the philosophical issues it raises. He shows that human rights can only be a minimum standard, not a panacea for the troubles of humanity. And that this significance, although modest, should not be underrated.

A. J.M. Milne, Professor of Political Theory and Institutions at the University of Durham, is the author of The Right to Dissent: Issues in Political Philosophy.