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Divided into two parts, this book on human rights first offers an alternative history of natural law, in which natural rights are represented as the eternal human struggle to resist oppression and to fight for a society in which people are no longer degraded or despised. At the time of their birth in the 18th century and again in the popular uprisings of the 1990s, human rights became the dominant critique of law and society. The radical rhetoric of rights doctrine's symbolic value and its apparently endless expansive potential, has led to its adoption by governments and individuals alike seeking to justify their actions on moral grounds, and has undermined its radical edge.;Part two examines the philosophical logic of rights. The classical critiques of Kant, Burke, Hegel and Marx illuminate traditional approaches to the concept of human rights. The work of Heidegger, Sartre and psychoanalysis is used to deconstruct the metaphysical essentialism of both universalists and cultural relativists. Finally, through a consideration of the ethics of otherness and with reference to recent human rights violations, it is argued that the end of human rights is to judge law and politics from a moral standpoint which both transcends the present and is historically relevant.;This is a comprehensive examination of the discourse and practice of human rights. Using examples of ethically justified foreign policy and war in Eastern Europe, the book argues that human rights will end unless their utopian ideal is reassessed and introduced into practice.