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Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

24. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak  

Nikita Dhawan

This chapter examines the works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who is known for her contribution to postcolonial studies, revolving around gender justice, human rights, and democracy. Spivak criticizes the Eurocentric and male-centric nature and exclusionary framings of political subjectivity. The chapter explains how colonialism revolves around military domination, economic exploitation, and subject constitution, thus explaining that decolonization cannot be achieved simply through transferring power from Europeans to the native elites. Spivak offers a countermodel of individual and collective agency which enhances our understanding of normativity in the era of globalization. The chapter also covers the relation between the European Enlightenment and the postcolonial condition while exploring Spivak’s contribution to the process of decolonizing the Enlightenment. It considers the concept of planetary ethics, which entails forsaking formulas for solving global problems and critical self-vigilance on the part of transnational elites as significant aspects of ethico-political practice.

Chapter

Cover Issues in Political Theory

11. Human Rights  

Tom Campbell

This chapter focuses on human rights. Human rights are derived historically from the idea of natural law as it developed on a strong religious basis in late medieval Europe and, later, in a more secularized form during the more rationalist period of the Enlightenment. Meanwhile, the contemporary human rights movement stems from the aftermath of World War II. It is associated, domestically, with constitutional bills of rights and, internationally, with the work of the United Nations. Human rights may be defined as universal rights of great moral and political significance that belong to all human beings by virtue of their humanity. They are said to be overriding and absolute. Human rights may be divided into three overlapping groups: civil and political rights; economic, social, and cultural rights; and group or collective rights for development and self-determination.

Book

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy
An Introduction to Political Philosophy provides and introduction to the subject, combining clarity and a conversational style with a thought-provoking account of the central questions of the discipline. The text explores the subject through a series of enduring and timeless questions, jumping centuries and millennia to explore the most influential answers and demonstrate the relevance of political philosophy for an understanding of contemporary issues. This new edition has been updated to include the on-going developments in multiculturalism and global justice, as well as in human rights and deliberative democracy.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

29. Arendt  

Justine Lacroix

This chapter examines a number of key concepts in Hannah Arendt's work, with particular emphasis on how they have influenced contemporary thought about the meaning of human rights. It begins with a discussion of Arendt's claim that totalitarianism amounts to a destruction of the political domain and a denial of the human condition itself; this in turn had occurred only because human rights had lost all validity. It then considers Arendt's formula of the ‘right to have rights’ and how it opens the way to a ‘political’ conception of human rights founded on the defence of republican institutions and public-spiritedness. It shows that this ‘political’ interpretation of human rights is itself based on an underlying understanding of the human condition as marked by natality, liberty, plurality and action, The chapter concludes by reflecting on the so-called ‘right to humanity’.

Book

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy
An Introduction to Political Philosophy provides an introduction to the subject, combining clarity and a conversational style with a thought-provoking account of the central questions of the discipline. It explores the subject through a series of enduring and timeless questions, crossing centuries and millennia to consider the most influential answers and demonstrate the relevance of political philosophy for an understanding of contemporary issues. This new edition has been updated to include on-going developments in multiculturalism and global justice, as well as in human rights and deliberative democracy.