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What would a community of shared future for mankind look like in the area of human rights
December 22,2017   By:André van der Braak
 
With regard to the question of the grounding of human rights, four types of answers have been given. (1) Some have argued that human rights should be premised on a fixed foundation, on a particular religious of metaphysical claim. For example, the eminent historian of human rights Johannes Morsink insists that the idea of human rights can only be grounded on metaphysical and epistemical universality, which is the shared belief in the dignity of human beings (Morsink 2009). (2) Others reject the need for a fixed foundation in the form of a particular metaphysical claim, but maintain that human rights can be grounded on a contingent universal concept or justification that all human beings can share reasonably. 
 
(3) Others argue that the search for foundations should be given up, in favor of a version of positivism, constructivism or pragmatism. For example, Michael Ignatieff argues that human rights politics can be successfully sustained without any need for foundations (Ignatieff  2001). Also Jack Donnelly argues that the almost universal consensus on the existence of human rights today means that there is no longer a need for their foundation (Donnelly 1989). Philosopher Conor Gearty also defends politics rather than philosophy as the vehicle through which human rights can be rescued (Gearty 2006). Ronald Dworkin proposes a constructivist approach to human rights: they have no foundation, but they are deeply cemented in our habits of thought and political convictions (Dworkin 1977). Richard Rorty also rejects the idea that human rights norms must be grounded in some kind of metaphysical foundation. He claims that since the Enlightenment, Americans and Europeans have created a human rights culture on the basis of security and sympathy, which are now extended worldwide (Rorty 1993). Hogan characterizes this as a globalization of the virtue of compassion.
 
(4) Hogan herself argues for a pluralist approach to the grounding of human rights. There is not one universal foundation, but there are many foundations from different situated communities. The language of inherent human dignity, or of universal human rights, has been “supported, rendered intelligible, mediated, and adapted in and through a myriad of different world views and traditions” (Hogan 2015: 119). It is exactly because it has been receptive to so many different justifications that the language of human rights has endured. Therefore, Hogan argues for a human rights discourse in which the languages, metaphors, and images of comprehensive doctrines are deployed rather than excluded.” (Hogan 2015: 120).