John Tasioulas (King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law) has posted Towards a Philosophy of Human Rights on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Revised version of Inaugural Lecture as Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, University College London, delivered January 19th, 2012. A critique of two influential tendencies in contemporary philosophical thought about human rights: foundationalism and functionalism.
And from the paper:
In any case, one reason why the idea of human rights belongs to neither the lawyers nor the philosophers is that it does not ultimately consist in a system of 4 principles, but in a distinctive ethical sensibility. It is characterized by a number of hallmarks: the idea of each and every individual human being as an ultimate focus of moral concern; that the concern in question should, along at least on one dimension, take the form of recognizing moral duties that are directly owed to these individual human beings, who have corresponding rights to their performance; that in virtue of our standing as human beings, equipped with the capacity to realize certain values in our lives, we each possess certain rights, independently of whether or not they are actually enforced or even recognized socially. And intimately bound up with these ideas are sentiments, such as those of blame, guilt, and resentment, that give form and content to notions such as that of a duty or its wrongful violation, and also some sense of the elements that conduce to a good human life and the threats to their realization. This sensibility, of course, is embodied in a wider culture of thought and practice, one that both lawyers and philosophers must presuppose and draw upon in pursuing their practical-institutional and explanatory-theoretical projects.