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Alasdair MacIntyre’s Critique of Contemporary Human Rights Theories



Alasdair MacIntyre’s Critique of Contemporary Human Rights Theories
Justin Raj Kaitharath Antony
Dissertationes Series Philosophica LX – ESC 2023
ISBN: 979-12-5482-197-8 (pdf)
Pagine: 260 pp.
Prezzo ebook: € 0,99

Today, especially in the West, human rights are considered the fundamental principles in ensuring respect for human dignity, justice, and peace. However, on this point, Alasdair MacIntyre seems to maintain a different perspective. He argues that human rights theory is an invention, particularly of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is fiction and an outcome of the distorted morality of modernity and liberalism. Rights cannot be universal and natural rather they are developed within communities, with a specific, and local character, and presuppose the existence of social institutions, rules, and practices. All attempts of rights theorists including liberals and certain neo-Thomists to give sound reasons for their existence have failed because there are no such rights.
According to MacIntyre human rights theories have caused the disintegration of the community and its values. Individuals became self-centered after the shared conception of the good had been privatized. Social relationships have been broken and as a result, We became you and me and our became your and mine The rights language which is commonplace in everyday discourse created moral incommensurability within society leaving no rational way to escape from it. At this juncture, he believes that the rediscovery of the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy and a concept of rights based on justice, common good, and virtues would fill the void left by the human rights theory.
MacIntyre’s critique made a different reading of history exposing the adverse effects of modernity and human rights theories. Although many of his arguments have been criticized as pessimistic and groundless, his critique serves as an alarm to critically examine the current use of the rights language to maintain a mature attitude towards human rights. As he argues, social relationships, good traditions and practices, and an awareness of the relevance of the common good can be enhanced to overcome individualistic tendencies within human rights and to maintain a mature attitude towards them. It can also be applied in the Catholic context as a guiding principle to critically analyze its defense of rights, to focus on their socio-relational aspects, and to consolidate the relationship between them and the common good in its writings.


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