Many political philosophers and theorists think that especially demanding moral norms apply among those who share a state. But many of those writers also think that other demanding moral norms apply among all human beings. How can we develop these two thoughts together? One version of this challenge is how to maintain that there are principles of justice limited to states while also acknowledging that justice applies globally. Another version is how to make sense of the authority of democratic decision making while also acknowledging an important role for human rights whose validity does not depend on democratic origins. A fair number of philosophers and theorists work on this problem. Seyla Benhabib’s Dignity in Adversity contributes to this effort. The book is a collection of previously published essays written between 2006 and 2010. Focusing on Benhabib’s ideas about human rights, these essays continue her work in Another Cosmopolitanism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) and The Rights of Others (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). The new book is much easier to absorb if one knows the earlier works.
Risse, Mathias. Review of Dignity in Adversity: Human Rights in Troubled Times, by Seyla Benhabib. Ethics, 122.4, July 2012: 790-797.