The Limits of Ethics in International Relations: Natural Law, Natural Rights, and Human Rights in…

Paperback | June 5, 2011

byDavid Boucher

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Ethical constraints on relations among individuals within and between societies have always reflected or invoked a higher authority than the caprices of human will. For over two thousand years natural law and natural rights were the constellations of ideas and presuppositions that fulfilledthis role in the West, and exhibited far greater similarities than most commentators want to admit. Such ideas were the lens through which Europeans evaluated the rest of the world. In his major new book David Boucher rejects the view that natural rights constituted a secularization of natural law ideas by showing that most of the significant thinkers in the field, in their various ways, believed that reason leads you to the discovery of your obligations, while God provides theground for discharging them. Furthermore, the book maintains that natural rights and human rights are far less closely related than is often asserted because natural rights can never be cast adrift from their religious foundations, whereas human rights, for the most part, have jettisoned theChristian metaphysics upon which both natural law and natural rights depended. Human rights theories, on the whole, present us with foundationless universal constraints on the actions of individuals, both domestically and internationally. Finally, one of the principal contentions of the book is thatthese purportedly universal rights and duties almost invariably turn out to be conditional, and upon close scrutiny end up being 'special' rights and privileges as the examples of multicultural encounters, slavery, racism, and women's rights demonstrate.

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Ethical constraints on relations among individuals within and between societies have always reflected or invoked a higher authority than the caprices of human will. For over two thousand years natural law and natural rights were the constellations of ideas and presuppositions that fulfilledthis role in the West, and exhibited far great...

David Boucher is Professor of Political Philosophy and International Relations at Cardiff University, adjunct professor of international relations at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Director of the Collingwood and British Idealism Centre, Cardiff. He has written widely on British Idealism, history of political thought, intern...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:June 5, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199691460

ISBN - 13:9780199691463

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Classical Natural Law and the Law of Nations: The Greeks and The Romans2. Christian Natural Law3. Natural Law, The Law of Nations and the Transition to Natural Rights4. Natural Rights and Social Exclusion: Cultural Encounters5. Natural Rights: Descriptive and Prescriptive6. Natural Rights and Their Critics7. Slavery and Racism in Natural Law and Natural Rights8. Nonsense Upon Stilts? Tocqueville, Idealism and the Expansion of the Moral Community9. The Human Rights Culture and its Discontents10. Modern Constitutive Theories of Human Rights11. Human Rights and the Juridical Revolutions12. Women and Human RightsConclusionReferences