Vulnerability and Human Rights
Penn State Press, 10 aug. 2006 - 160 pagini
The mass violence of the twentieth century’s two world wars—followed more recently by decentralized and privatized warfare, manifested in terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and other localized forms of killing—has led to a heightened awareness of human beings’ vulnerability and the precarious nature of the institutions they create to protect themselves from violence and exploitation. This vulnerability, something humans share amid the diversity of cultural beliefs and values that mark their differences, provides solid ground on which to construct a framework of human rights.
Bryan Turner undertakes this task here, developing a sociology of rights from a sociology of the human body. His blending of empirical research with normative analysis constitutes an important step forward for the discipline of sociology. Like anthropology, sociology has traditionally eschewed the study of justice as beyond the limits of a discipline that pays homage to cultural relativism and the “value neutrality” of positivistic science. Turner’s expanded approach accordingly involves a truly interdisciplinary dialogue with the literature of economics, law, medicine, philosophy, political science, and religion.
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The idea of our vulnerable human nature is closely associated with certain fundamental rights, such as the right to life. Indeed, the rights that support life, health, and reproduction are crucial to human rights as such.
Another way of expressing this idea is to argue that we need to maintain a distinction between the social rights of citizens and the human rights of persons. The former are enforced by states; the latter are protected, but frequently ...
The point of this essay is to challenge this legacy of positivism and relativism and to promote a sociological approach that starts with the idea of embodiment and human vulnerability. Human rights can be defined as universal principles ...
Although the idea of vulnerability has a clear connection to the basic idea of a right to life, it can also provide an ontological foundation for rights relating to freedom, because there is an intimate connection between the right to ...
Critics of sociology may remain skeptical about this argument, because they see a real clash between the idea of personal liberty (as the foundation of the enjoyment of rights as such) and the idea of social causation or determinism.