The Idea of Human Rights
Michael J. Perry
Reviews and Awards
"Michael Perry's new book, The Idea of Human Rights, is in my view the best thing that this unusually thoughtful legal scholar has yet done. It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of the central idea that he is pursuing: that to speak, as so many claim to do, of 'human rights' from a purely secular perspective may well not make any sense. His willingness to confront the implications of 'the death of God' is precisely what is absent from so much moral, legal, and political rights talk. Anyone who wants to make universal claims for the concept of human rights needs to confront the arguments put forth in this provocative and timely book."--Paul Campos, University of Colorado (Boulder)
"For those who wish to plumb the depths of the largest issues of our time, this book must be read-for it does just that. The author's passion for crystallizing the meaning of human rights in humankind's understanding today is tangible, and his painstaking research and inquiry into others' views on the subject are evident from his reflective, albeit one-sided, debate with their theories....It is a teaching book....a valuable resource."--JURIST
"This timely reaffirmation of human dignity and value is a worthwhile complement to collections seeking to document the post-WW II formation of international human rights law and its defense."--Choice
"Excellent, perhaps Perry's best (which is saying a lot)....At a time when legal scholarship is becoming increasingly dull and unmoored...Chapter One of this book...seems to me an exceptional and outstanding piece of work. The essay shows, I think, that it is possible for a legal scholar to write carefully, thoughtfully, and even constructively about things that really matter...As with his other work, The Idea of Human Rights reflects Perry's broad reading and his effort to carefully consider the variety of objections, counter-arguments, etc. Not many legal scholars are as conscientious as Perry.
Questions of human righs have become important to a variety of disciplines and sub-disciplines-constitutional law, international law, jurisprudence and political science being the most obvious. Since Perry's book is to a large extent concerned with questions of religion and ethics, it will also be important for theologians and philosophers. Perry wrties lucidly enough that his book will be suitiable not only for scholars but for students in specialized seminars."--Steven Smith, Robert & Marion Short Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame