Print page

Human Rights

Confronting Myths and Misunderstandings
Andrew Fagan, Deputy Director, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex, UK
This book offers both an introduction to and a critical analysis of enduring themes and issues in the contemporary theory and practice of human rights. The author argues that the moral authority and practical efficacy of human rights are adversely affected by a range of myths and misunderstandings – from claims regarding the moral status of human rights as an allegedly fully comprehensive moral doctrine to the view that the possession of rights is anti-ethical to recognising the importance of moral duties. The author also examines such issues as the claim that human rights can ultimately only be said to exist as legal phenomena and the claim that nation-states are inherently hostile to the spirit of human rights. Discussion cuts across academic boundaries in an attempt to defend human rights against those who have come to expect too much and those who expect too little from human rights.
Extent: 176 pp
Hardback Price: £77.00 Online: £69.30
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 978 1 84844 161 3
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: £20.00 Online: £16.00
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 978 1 84980 982 5
Availability: In Stock
£0.00

Buy the E-book

Join our mailing list

  • Law - Academic
  • Human Rights
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Human Rights
  • Public Policy
This comprehensive book offers both an introduction and a critical analysis of enduring themes and issues in the contemporary theory and practice of human rights. Providing a multi-disciplinary analysis, it engages with philosophical, political and social approaches to the subject of human rights.

Andrew Fagan argues that the moral authority and practical efficacy of human rights are adversely affected by a range of myths and misunderstandings – from claims regarding the moral status of human rights as a fully comprehensive moral doctrine to the view that the possession of rights is antithetical to recognising the importance of moral duties. The author also examines the claim made by some that human rights ultimately only exists as legal phenomena and that nation-states are inherently hostile to the spirit of human rights. This book will challenge people to reconsider their understanding of human rights as a global moral outlook.

This monograph will become essential reading for both postgraduate and undergraduate students interested in the field of human rights. It will also be invaluable to academics, researchers and human rights practitioners involved in the human rights debate.
‘. . . Fagan has made a fine effort identifying several myths and misunderstandings haunting the modern project of human rights.’
– Varro Vooglaid, Finnish Yearbook of International Law

‘This book is a stimulating read and gives much “food for thought”.’
– Sally Ramage, The Criminal Lawyer

‘This is a thorough and balanced work which examines the philosophical basis of human rights and tackles head on, the most commonly held suspicions and misconceptions – some of them politically motivated and deliberate – of human rights theory. If you specialize professionally or academically in the area of human rights legislation or even practical application, you’d find it useful to read this book. . .’
– Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor, The Barrister

‘The cause of human rights is powerfully expressed in these pages but equally the credibility gap that such a cause faces given the scale of human suffering in the world. Andrew Fagan offers a robust agenda of thought and action to pursue if we are serious about securing the universal enjoyment of human rights. The book is also an excellent introduction to contemporary philosophical standpoints on both the theory and practice of human rights.’
– Kevin Boyle, University of Essex, UK

‘The idea of human rights is one of the most familiar of our time. It is, however, not well understood and often abused. Andrew Fagan takes up the “myths” and “misunderstandings” most common among both supporters and critics of human rights, and seeks to develop a clear, well-founded account of the idea. His analysis challenges all those who believe that human rights are well established and that human rights theory is only a distraction from urgent practical work.’
– Michael Freeman, University of Essex, UK
Contents: Introduction 1. The Basis and Scope of Human Rights 2. Human Rights and Law’s Domain 3. Universalism and ‘the Other’ 4. Globalisation, Human Rights and the Modern Nation-State 5. Democracy and Human Rights 6. Global Economic Inequalities and Human Rights 7. Accentuating the Positive References Index