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REDISCOVERING UNIVERSAL REASON

REDISCOVERING UNIVERSAL REASON The widespread agreement, across world religions and states and cultures, that human beings have rights as human beings—rights that no religion, state, or culture may violate—is a sign that we may be ready to reconsider the possibility of universal reason. I shall not approach this question in a theoretical manner, but rather in a manner both empirical and concrete. The speculative debate is not without interest, but more pressing is our awareness that, despite progress toward agreement about universal rights, there still exists a considerable gap between principles (which are as general as they are wide-ranging) and observed reality. This discrepancy can lead to discouragement, skepticism, and even to a dangerous mistrust of human reason, which ascertains and avers our rights. And the conflict between the ideal and reality is growing. Is there a nation decent enough in its cynicism to acknowledge it intends not to respect and guarantee human rights? Regrettably, the most noble declarations of principle can serve merely to justify the most abject abuses. But the idea of human rights has indeed become part of a universal way of thinking. It is by now an imperative in social and political relations, and the basis of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

REDISCOVERING UNIVERSAL REASON

Common Knowledge , Volume 11 (1) – Jan 1, 2005

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2005 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-11-1-22
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The widespread agreement, across world religions and states and cultures, that human beings have rights as human beings—rights that no religion, state, or culture may violate—is a sign that we may be ready to reconsider the possibility of universal reason. I shall not approach this question in a theoretical manner, but rather in a manner both empirical and concrete. The speculative debate is not without interest, but more pressing is our awareness that, despite progress toward agreement about universal rights, there still exists a considerable gap between principles (which are as general as they are wide-ranging) and observed reality. This discrepancy can lead to discouragement, skepticism, and even to a dangerous mistrust of human reason, which ascertains and avers our rights. And the conflict between the ideal and reality is growing. Is there a nation decent enough in its cynicism to acknowledge it intends not to respect and guarantee human rights? Regrettably, the most noble declarations of principle can serve merely to justify the most abject abuses. But the idea of human rights has indeed become part of a universal way of thinking. It is by now an imperative in social and political relations, and the basis of

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2005

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