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Human Rights

Stoicism And Roman Jurisprudence, Christianity And Medieval Contributions, Modern Natural Rights, The Reformation And Its Aftermath

The idea of human rights posits that human beings, regardless of extrinsic differences in circumstance (nationality, class, religion) or physical condition (race, gender, age), possess a basic and absolute dignity that must be respected by governments and other people. Sometimes these rights claims have been grounded in systems of positive law, sometimes in conceptions of human nature or divine creation. Most scholars who study moral and political ideas on a global basis agree that the concept of human rights is Western in origin, although it has spread throughout the world in recent times. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and other proclamations that have followed from it establish that such rights pertain across the globe regardless of cultural, religious, social, or political differences. In this sense, the very idea of human rights stands logically opposed to moral relativism of any sort. Depending on one's perspective, this hallmark of rights is either a shortcoming or an advantage.

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