Skip to main content
Toward a Theory of Human Rights
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Recommend this book

    Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

    Toward a Theory of Human Rights
    • Online ISBN: 9780511499197
    • Book DOI:
    Please enter your name
    Please enter a valid email address
    Who would you like to send this to? *
  • Buy the print book

Book description

Neither the morality of human rights nor its relation to the law of human rights is well understood. In this book, Michael Perry addresses three large issues. There is undeniably a religious ground - indeed, more than one religious ground - for the morality of human rights. But is there a secular ground for the morality of human rights? What is the relation between the morality of human rights and the law of human rights? Perry here addresses the controversial issues of capital punishment, abortion, and same-sex unions. What is the proper role of courts, in a liberal democracy, in protecting - and therefore in interpreting - constitutionally entrenched human rights? In considering this question, special attention is paid to the Supreme Court and how it should rule on issues such as capital punishment and abortion. Toward a Theory of Human Rights makes a significant contribution both to human rights studies and to constitutional theory.


‘Perry succeeds admirably by presenting a model of stimulating intellectual conversation. He engages both philosophers suspicious of a religious foundation for the idea of human rights (which Perry affirms) and religious authorities who publicly teach on contested moral issues. He presents his conversation partners’ arguments with nuanced fairness, while subjecting those arguments to the rigorous critical analysis that intellectual respect demands.’

Source: Theological Studies

‘Michael Perry’s book is provocative in the strict and best sense: it will provoke critical pushback and in so doing initiate a much-needed conversation about human rights, religion, and liberalism. A timely intervention by one of our most illustrious commentators on religion in politics whose creativity and erudition is on full display throughout the text.’

Christopher Eberle - United States Naval Academy

‘Michael Perry’s superb new book is an eloquent and compelling contribution to the development of a comprehensive theory of human rights. A model of clarity and precision, Toward a Theory of Human Rights identifies all the critical issues and serious questions across its impressively broad scope and addresses them with Perry’s characteristic and rare combination of passionate humanity and exemplary scholarly rigor.’

Stephen Gardbaum - UCLA

‘Does religious belief undermine or support commitment to a moral and legal regime of human rights? No question is more urgent in our world today. Perry’s argument cannot be ignored by any scholar working at the intersection of faith, law, and morality. Quite simply, Perry has changed the terms of the discussion.’

M. Cathleen Kaveny - University of Notre Dame

    • Aa
    • Aa
Refine List
Actions for selected content:
Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive
  • Send content to

    To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to .

    To send content to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

    Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

    Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

    Please be advised that item(s) you selected are not available.
    You are about to send:

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.