On a relexive case for human rights

Can there be a categorical, reasonably non-rejectable grounding of human rights? The paper engages a recent attempt to provide such a grounding, namely, Forst’s “reflexive” account. On this account, moral-political validity claims commit us to a constructivist requirement of reciprocal and general acceptability, while this requirement both commits us to accord to others a right to justification and allows for a justification of other human rights. The paper grants the substantive implications of this requirement, but takes issue with the claim that it is reasonably non-rejectable. I argue that this requirement cannot be established reflexively in Forst’s sense, and this is for reasons that mark general limitations of reflexive, presuppositional arguments for relevantly contested conclusions. I argue, as well, that we should not suppose in this context an idea of the reasonable that would entail that it is unreasonable to reject that requirement. Thus, this reflexive case for human rights fails, as it remains hypothetical. But it shifts the issue in an interesting direction.


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