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Guest Thinkers

The History of Human Rights

“It is really just a few decades since human rights became the world’s preferred vocabulary for talking about justice.” Slate reviews a new book on the history of human rights claims.

“It’s strange to think of human rights as having a history, much less a controversial one. Could anyone but a monster deny that every person has a right to be free and equal, to be protected against torture and censorship, to have enough to eat? Our reverence for human rights is so instinctive that, in the 21st century, whenever we see a gross injustice being committed, the most powerful objection we know how to raise is that someone’s human rights are being violated—whether it is Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib or women sentenced to stoning in Iran.”


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