“Religion and Human Rights” (Gräb & Charbonnier, eds.)

This March, Walter De Gruyter Press will release “Religion and Human Rights: Global Challenges from Intercultural Perspectives” by Lars Charbonnier and Wilhelm Gräb (Humboldt University, Germany).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religion and Human Rights- InterculturalCurrent processes of globalization are challenging Human Rights and the attempts to institutionalize them in many ways. The question of the connection between religion and human rights is a crucial point here. The genealogy of the Human Rights is still a point of controversies in the academic discussion. Nevertheless, there is consensus that the Christian tradition – especially the doctrine that each human being is an image of God – played an important role within the emergence of the codification of the Human Rights in the period of enlightenment. It is also obvious that the struggle against the politics of apartheid in South Africa was strongly supported by initiatives of churchy and other religious groups referring to the Human Rights. Christian churches and other religious groups do still play an important role in the post-apartheid South Africa. They have a public voice concerning all the challenges with which the multiethnic and economically still deeply divided South African society is faced with. The reflections on these questions in the collected lectures and essays of this volume derive from an academic discourse between German and South African scholars that took place within the German-South African Year of Science 2012/13.

Imago Dei & the (Forgotten) Roots of Human Rights

Campbell Law Review (Regent University Law) recently published Looking For Bedrock: Accounting for Human Rights in Classical Liberalism, Modern Secularism, and the Christian Tradition by Professor C. Scott Pryor, also of Regent Law. 33 Campbell L. Rev. 609 (2011).

Professor Pryor argues that the corresponding rights and duties of prototypical Western “human rights” were not free floating:  In Christian, Hebraic, and even Roman civil law traditions they originated in grounded conceptions of human nature.  These notions defined the human being and the rights others owed to him or her and the corresponding duties he or she owed to others.  While the Western conception of human rights has continued to develop, Pryor asserts that knowledge of these rights’ foundation has eroded; as memories fade, consensus as to what are human rights and their implications becomes harder to reach.  When this consensus becomes more remote, human-rights-based arguments lose their salience.  Pryor’s discussion of the weakening of rights discourse is analogous to Alasdair MacIntyre’s bleak premise in  After Virtue (3d ed. 2007) that, over time, “the language of morality [has reached a] state of grave disorder.”  Id. at 2.  (In my post criticizing Richard Dawkins’ overly bellicose rhetoric, I discuss After Virtue in greater depth.)

For further discussion of this problem and Pryor’s solution, please follow the jump. Continue reading

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