Looking forward to reading a review copy of Nigel Biggar’s What’s Wrong with Rights this month. Having met the author in the early stages of this book project, I am curious about the result and hope to report on my findings in an online review essay later this year.
From the description of the book:
“Are natural rights ‘nonsense on stilts’, as Jeremy Bentham memorably put it? Must the very notion of a right be individualistic, subverting the common good? Should the right against torture be absolute, even though the heavens fall? Are human rights universal or merely expressions of Western neo-imperial arrogance? Are rights ethically fundamental, proudly impervious to changing circumstances? Should judges strive to extend the reach of rights from civil Hamburg to anarchical Basra? Should judicial oligarchies, rather than legislatures, decide controversial ethical issues by inventing novel rights? Ought human rights advocates learn greater sympathy for the dilemmas facing those burdened with government?
These are the questions that What’s Wrong with Rights? addresses. In doing so, it draws upon resources in intellectual history, legal philosophy, moral philosophy, moral theology, human rights literature, and the judgments of courts. It ranges from debates about property in medieval Christendom, through Confucian rights-scepticism, to contemporary discussions about the remedy for global hunger and the justification of killing. And it straddles assisted dying in Canada, the military occupation of Iraq, and genocide in Rwanda.”
The author is Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, and Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life, University of Oxford.
See for more information on the book, due to come out in October: