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Toward a Theory of Human Rights
Religion, Law, Courts


  • Date Published: November 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521684224

£ 37.99

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Approaches key controversial human rights issues such as capital punishment, abortion and same-sex unions
    • The Supreme Court of the United States given special attention
    • A significant contribution not only to human rights studies but also to constitutional theory
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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.' 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

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521684224
    • length: 272 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Morality of Human Rights:
    1. The morality of human rights
    2. The morality of human rights: a religious ground
    3. The morality of human rights: a nonreligious ground?
    Part II. From Morality to Law:
    4. From morality to law
    5. Capital punishment
    6. Abortion
    7. Same-sex unions
    Part III. From Law to Courts:
    8. Protecting human rights in a democracy: what role for the courts?
    9. How should the Supreme Court rule?: capital punishment, abortion, and same-sex unions.

  • Author

    Michael J. Perry, Emory University, Atlanta
    Michael J. Perry currently holds a Robert W. Woodruff Chair at Emory University, where he teaches in the law school. Perry is the author of over sixty articles and essays. He is also the author of nine books, including Love and Power: The Role of Religion and Morality in American Politics (1991), The Idea of Human Rights (1998), We the People: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court (1999), and Under God? Religious Faith and Liberal Democracy (2003).

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