Towards a Political Philosophy of Human Rights

In Debra Satz & Annabelle Lever (eds.), Ideas That Matter: Justice, Democracy, Rights. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press (2019)
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Is there a human right to be governed democratically – and how should we approach such an issue philosophically? These are the questions raised by Joshua Cohen’s 2006 article, ‘Is There a Human Right to Democracy?’ – a paper over which I have agonised since I saw it in draft form, many years ago. I am still uncomfortable with its central claim, that while justice demands democratic government, the proper standard for human rights is something less. But, as I hope to show, the reasons for that discomfort are occasioned less by the thought that democracy may not be a human right than by the very significant gaps in our understanding of rights which debates about the human rights status of democracy exemplify.
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