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Human Rights on Trial

Book description

The first systematic analysis of the arguments made against human rights from the French Revolution to the present day. Through the writings of Edmund Burke, Jeremy Bentham, Auguste Comte, Louis de Bonald, Joseph de Maistre, Karl Marx, Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt, the authors explore the divergences and convergences between these 'classical' arguments against human rights and the contemporary critiques made both in Anglo-American and French political philosophy. Human Rights on Trial is unique in its marriage of history of ideas with normative theory, and its integration of British/North American and continental debates on human rights. It offers a powerful rebuttal of the dominant belief in a sharp division between human rights today and the rights of man proclaimed at the end of the eighteenth century. It also offers a strong framework for a democratic defence of human rights.


‘In their masterful inventory of styles of critique of human rights since the birth of modernity, Justine Lacroix and Jean-Yves Pranchère bring a new sensibility to more parochial recent controversies about the historical origins and philosophical grounding of human rights. Human Rights on Trial offers calm and clarity at a moment of doubt.'

Samuel Moyn - Yale University, author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World

‘In my opinion, Lacroix and Pranchère have written the assessment of human right's articulation with democratic politics that was just needed: avoiding confusions with humanitarianism or individualism, showing the risk and the emancipatory power that conjoins insurrection with institution, arguing for the extension of citizenship beyond its historical and social limitations. With immense knowledge and superb clarity, they provide an instrument of thought that will prove indispensable to students, scholars, professionals, and activists.'

Etienne Balibar - author of Equaliberty

‘Lacroix and Pranchère offer a brilliant analysis of the long history of human rights skepticism in European political thought. They also bring out the richness and robustness of the idea of human rights, and rehabilitate its democratic and emancipatory potential. A historical, critical and philosophical tour de force and a deeply original contribution to a major contemporary debate in political theory and practice.'

Cécile Laborde - University of Oxford

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