Philosophical Critique of Human Rights
Richard Rorty’s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature was one of the first, and certainly one of the most prodigious, subversions of that dominant tradition in Western, analytic philosophy. Philosophy is the activity of asking critical, conceptual questions. The philosophy of human rights is, then, the activity of asking critical, conceptual questions about human rights. “Human emancipation will only be complete when the real, individual man has absorbed into himself the abstract citizen”. In other words, the realization of abstract, civil rights must materialize in a real human being if they are to be considered as more than just formalistic, legal devices. The tired exchange, then, between theorists who need a rational justification in their dealings with human rights should be replaced by human rights education; but “education” does not mean analytic investigation into foundational questions. The name that looms largest in an alternative reading of “human rights” is Michel Foucault.