Universalism and (Cultural) Relativism

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This entry discusses, first of all, how a universalist account of human rights can be understood and explained. In what sense can human rights be said to be universal? How do we get from the abstract concept of a universal human right to a claim about a concrete list of human rights such as the UN list? And how can modern human rights be defended in cultures where the human rights norms are initially alien (the problem of ethnocentricity)? Then, focus turns to the cultural relativist’s opposing view. How can it be argued that there are no universal rights? The central relativist argument from the existence of irresolvable value disagreement between cultures is analyzed and a range of possible universalist responses is discussed. Finally, conclusions are drawn.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElgar Encyclopedia of Human Rights
EditorsChristina Binder, Manfred Nowak, Jane A Hofbauer, Philipp Janig
Place of PublicationCheltenham, UK
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication date1. Sept 2022
ISBN (Print)9781789903614
ISBN (Electronic)9781789903621
Publication statusPublished - 1. Sept 2022


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