Human Rights and the Uses of History

Human Rights and the Uses of History:Expanded Second Edition

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A pithy and readable challenge to the concept of human rights

What are the origins of human rights? This question, rarely asked before the end of the Cold War, has in recent years become a major focus of historical and ideological strife. In this sequence of reflective and critical studies, Samuel Moyn engages with some of the leading interpreters of human rights, thinkers who have been creating a field from scratch without due reflection on the local and temporal contexts of the stories they are telling.

Having staked out his owns claims about the postwar origins of human rights discourse in his acclaimed Last Utopia, Moyn, in this volume, takes issue with rival conceptions – including, especially, those that underlie justifications of humanitarian intervention.

Reviews

  • An intensely readable journey.

    Phillipe SandsFinancial TImes
  • A penetrating, provocative look at philosophical and political phrases that pepper current political discourse, such as "human dignity" and "humanitarian intervention."

    Publishers Weekly
  • There is a struggle for the soul of the human rights movement, and it is being waged in large part through the proxy of genealogy ... Samuel Moyn ... is the most influential of the revisionists.

    Philip AlstonHarvard Law Review