Uniquely Human: The Basis of Human Rights
Much has been made in the last centuries about so-called “natural rights” of men, often used interchangeably as “human rights”. Gabriel Moran explores those rights that are universal human rights separate from rights that people have claimed for themselves. Starting with early Christian theory, and moving through the 19th Century Enlightenment, Moran gives a detailed overview of the history of the concept of human rights and brings it to modern times. This overview and history provides a solid foundation for the second half of the book where he outlines what issues should be considered universal human rights based on cross-cultural and moral basis.
Uniquely Human isn’t a casual book, but it’s not difficult to read. The subject is timely, especially considering the current debate in America about how we treated prisoners in the post-9/11 environment. One of Moran’s human rights is a right not to be tortured, yet a majority of Americans approve those extreme interrogation techniques when used against perceived enemies. Defining these rights and coming to a universal acceptance of them should be a priority for modern culture and societies, and still support them in developing countries.
The recognition of what rights are universal has evolved over the centuries. Just over 100 years ago, women’s suffrage was controversial in the United States. The rights of homosexuals to marry and be protected in a work environment is now developing, and while still challenged in some states, becoming the rule rather than the exception. Uniquely Human explores those issues and more, providing a framework for readers to understand and protect those rights that should be truly universal to all people.