Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Human rights entail two important types of claim: moral and political. Morally, they reflect the idea that all persons are (should be treated as) free and equal. Politically, they entail the demand that society be organized and power exercised in ways consistent with freedom and equality for all; in particular, they demand a society in which freedom and equality are realized through institutionally protected rights. One way in which human rights are protected is through law (and the rule of law); in this sense, human rights claims can also be legal claims, appeals for redress when institutionally recognized rights have been violated. To characterize human rights principally as moral and political claims is to acknowledge their protean nature. Who counts as a “person”? What kinds of social arrangements are necessary to ensure the freedom and equality of those persons? Theorists and activists have given sometimes radically different answers to these ...