Risse, Mathias. "Securing Human Rights Intellectually: Philosophical Inquiries about the Universal Declaration." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP09-024, August 2009.

Abstract

This article is intended for an edited volume in the series "The New Harvard Bookshelf: Towards a Liberal Education for the 21st Century." The purpose of that collection is to bring together articles that capture the basic ideas of various courses offered in the general education curriculum of Harvard College. This article is based on the syllabus of my course Human Rights: A Philosophical Introduction (ER11). It begins with a brief historical introduction to the human rights movement and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, the main goal of this article is to explore three different approaches to arguing that human beings have rights in virtue of being human. I conclude with a few remarks on the universalism/relativism debate.