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Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

1. Normative and Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights  

Anthony J. Langlois

This chapter discusses the normative and theoretical foundations of human rights. More specifically, it examines the theoretical basis for the normative ideas advanced by those who use the language of human rights for an ethical critique of international politics and policy. The chapter first traces the origins of the language of rights before discussing cultural relativism and imperialism, both of which challenge the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ claim to have universal application. It then considers the negative/positive distinction as a way of thinking about the differences between liberty and welfare rights. It also explores group rights, along with the philosophical and political history of the idea of human rights. Finally, it explains how the human rights agenda is deeply political, showing that it privileges a certain set of normative commitments that its proponents hope will become, in time, the ethical constitution of the international system.

Chapter

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

8. Multiculturalism  

This chapter examines multiculturalism and its main assumptions, especially the emphasis on the need to supplement the focus on common rights with greater attention to cultural diversity and group-differentiated rights. It begins with a discussion of three distinct stages in the debate over multiculturalism. In the first stage, proponents of multiculturalism were initially drawn to communitarianism as a possible philosophical foundation for minority rights. The second stage of the debate revolves around the question of the possible scope for multiculturalism within liberal theory, and the third stage highlights the role of multiculturalism in nation-building. The chapter proceeds by describing five types of ethnocultural groups that are found within Western democracies and how they have been affected by majority nation-building: national minorities, immigrants, isolationist ethnoreligious groups, metics, and racial caste groups such as African Americans. It concludes with an analysis of the politics of multiculturalism.

Chapter

Cover Issues in Political Theory

8. Multiculturalism  

Monica Mookherjee

This chapter studies multiculturalism. The term ‘multiculturalism’ can refer to the fact of cultural diversity and may also describe the coexistence of different kinds of cultural group within a country. Multiculturalism emphasizes status, as well as economic inequalities. Thin multiculturalism views all cultural differences as disagreements between groups that agree on liberal values. This view may underestimate the extent of conflict between cultures. Meanwhile, thick multiculturalism appreciates that some cultural differences occur between liberals and non-liberals. While the solution to cultural conflicts in thick multiculturalism is often a modus vivendi, the question is whether this solution treats non-liberal minority cultures fairly. Defenders of cultural rights hold that governments should recognize that all citizens deserve equal opportunities for developing self-respect and autonomy. However, by respecting cultural rights, a government risks supporting injustice against individuals within groups.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

5. Human Rights in Comparative Politics  

Sonia Cardenas

This chapter examines the importance of comparative politics for understanding human rights practices. Comparative politics has advanced our knowledge of why states sometimes violate internationally recognized human rights. Both domestic incentives and exclusionary ideologies increase the likelihood of rights violations. On the other hand, comparative politics has attempted to explain human rights protection, showing how domestic structures (both societal groups and state institutions) can influence reform efforts. This chapter first consider alternative logics of comparison, including the merits of comparing a small versus a large number of cases and human rights within or across regions. It then explores the leading domestic-level explanations for why human rights violations occur. It also describes the use of domestic–international linkages to explain otherwise perplexing human rights outcomes. Finally, it analyses the ways in which, in the context of globalization, comparative politics shapes human rights practices.

Chapter

Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

19. Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights  

Paul Havemann

This chapter examines issues surrounding the human rights of Indigenous peoples. The conceptual framework for this chapter is informed by three broad, interrelated, and interdependent types of human rights: the right to existence, the right to self-determination, and individual human rights. After describing who Indigenous peoples are according to international law, the chapter considers the centuries of ambivalence about the recognition of Indigenous peoples. It then discusses the United Nations's establishment of a regime for Indigenous group rights and presents a case study of the impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples. It concludes with a reflection on the possibility of accommodating Indigenous peoples' self-determination with state sovereignty.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

17. Catharine Macaulay and Edmund Burke  

Alan Coffee

This chapter discusses the contrasting philosophies of Catharine Macaulay and Edmund Burke regarding the fundamental nature of political society and the approaches to take on reform. Macaulay’s philosophy revolves around the core ideal of freedom as independence from arbitrary control. Additionally, Macaulay’s work recognized that people’s beliefs are shaped by the social environment but could be manipulated by elites. On the other hand, Burke’s philosophical beliefs are organic, contextual, and pragmatic while addressing the complexity and range of social considerations and human motivations that contribute to a viable and productive state. However, Burke’s philosophy could be challenged as to whether he provides protection against possible abuse of power or not. The chapter also covers the weakness in their philosophical works while considering equal citizenship rights for women and minority social groups.