This textbook presents a range of classical philosophical approaches in order to show that they are unsuitable as a foundation for human rights. Only the conception of human dignity –based on the Kantian distinction between price and dignity – can provide a sufficient basis. The derivation of human rights from the principle of human dignity allows us to identify the most crucial characteristic of human rights, namely the protection of personhood. This in turn makes it possible (1) to distinguish between real moral human rights and spurious ones, (2) to assess the scope of protection for many codified human rights according to the criteria of “core” and “yard,” and (3) offers a point of departure for creating new, unwritten human rights. This philosophical basis supports a substantial reassessment of the case law on human rights, which will ultimately allow us to improve it with regard to legal certainty, clarity and cogency.
The textbook is primarily intended for advanced law students who are interested in a deeper understanding of human rights. It is also suitable for humanities students, and for anyone in the political or social arena whose work involves human rights and their enforcement.
Each chapter is divided into four parts: Abstracts, Lecture, Recommended Reading, and Questions to check reader comprehension. Sample answers are included at the end of the book.