Who is My Neighbor?: Personalism and the Foundations of Human Rights
Over the past half century the language of human rights has gained such dominance in moral, civic, and ecclesiastical discourse that ethical and social questions are increasingly framed in terms of rights. Yet the vast literature dealing with human and civil rights focuses almost exclusively on the juridical and practical ramifications of rights, rather than the philosophical, moral, and foundational aspects. As a result, the proliferation of rights claims and catalogs has not been accompanied by a reasoned case for the existence of human rights or rational criteria for distinguishing true moral entitlement from spurious claims. Who Is My Neighbor? makes an original, compelling case for human rights as moral entitlements grounded in the dignity of the human person. Drawing upon insights of Thomistic Personalism, Thomas D. Williams sets forth in clear, vigorous prose the anthropological, philosophical, and theological bases for asserting that the human person must always be loved as an end and never used as a mere means. Williams grants ample space to critics of rights theory and systematically answers their arguments by showing how, rightly understood, human rights dovetail with classical ethical theory and traditional formulations of justice and natural law. Williams suggests that rights language not only does no violence to classical ethics but serves to highlight certain fundamental truths about the human person essential to right human relations.
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according action aﬀect aﬃrmation aﬃrms Aquinas arguments Aristotle asserts basic beneﬁt Catholic Christ Christian Church claim commandment to love common conscience deﬁnes deﬁnition diﬀerent Dignitatis Humanae distinction divine eﬀect encyclical essential existence fact ﬁnal ﬁnd Finnis ﬁrst ﬁrst place ﬂourishing Fortin freedom fulﬁlling fulﬁllment fundamental Gaudium et Spes God’s Grisez human dignity human person human rights I-II ibid II-II individual justice Liberal Love and Responsibility MacIntyre man’s nature Maritain Mary Ann Glendon means moral agent natural moral law natural rights neighbor Nichomachean Ethics nonpersonal norms O’Donovan object obligation oﬀers one’s oneself particular perfection personalistic personhood philosophical political possess practical reason precepts rational reality refers reﬂection regard relation relationship rights language rights theory sake Second Vatican Council sense simply social speak speciﬁc subjective rights teaching teleology theological things Thomas Thomas’s Thomistic Thomistic personalism tion tradition true truth understanding universal virtue Wojtyla words