Human Rights and their Limits shows that the concept of human rights has developed in waves: each call for rights served the purpose of social groups that tried to stop further proliferation of rights once their own goals were reached. While defending the universality of human rights as norms of behavior, Osiatyński admits that the philosophy on human rights does not need to be universal. Instead he suggests that the enjoyment of social rights should be contingent upon the recipient's contribution to society. He calls for a 'soft universalism' that will not impose rights on others but will share the experience of freedom and help the victims of violations. Although a state of unlimited democracy threatens rights, the excess of rights can limit resources indispensable for democracy. This book argues that, although rights are a prerequisite of freedom, they should be balanced with other values that are indispensable for social harmony and personal happiness.
• Offers a comprehensive review of many debates about human rights • Each chapter ends with original and unorthodox conclusions • Affirmative about human rights and their universality, the book calls for modesty in the application of the concept
1. A short history of human rights; 2. Rights and democracy; 3. Rights and needs; 4. Rights and cultures; 5. Human rights and other values.
'… provide[s] an interesting contribution to one of the major debates occurring in human rights scholarship at the present time. This is the changing role of history in human rights scholarship.' Cambridge Law Journal