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During the last 20 years, philosophers from different quarters and with very different approaches have begun to theorize human rights in an outpouring of authored and edited books and journal articles. In addition, among policy makers and in the legal arena-the so called workings fields of human rights-there have been noteworthy investigations of human rights that tackle philosophical issues. In this book, Anat Biletzki brings a systematic approach to the multitudinous philosophical analyses of human rights, offering a cohesive overview and analysis of this diverse but now very active field. She explores both the conceptual and historical treatments of human rights and the roots of its practice and examines its derivation from classical theories of rights all the way to existing uses.
The book is "contemporary" in two senses: it investigates the most current human rights issues and it addresses emerging criticism of human rights, now arising in various sectors. A long introduction provides background information on the history of human rights, a synopsis of modern-day documents, and an articulation of basic questions. This is followed by a section on the philosophical groundings of human rights, proceeding from a philosophy of rights, to specific theories of human rights, to the questions of universalism vs. relativism. The third sections focuses on specific philosophical issues in human rights, including cultural relativity, economic rights, women's rights, group, indigenous, and minority rights, security, and sovereignty and humanitarian intervention. And a final section on critiques of human rights has separate chapters on postmodernism, anti-foundationalism, and human rights discourse and practice.