Title: Confronting alterity: Rawls and the liberal framework of human rights

Authors: Alessandra Sarquis

Addresses: Centre de Rationalités Contemporaines, Université Paris IV, 1, Rue Victor Cousin 75005 Paris, France

Abstract: In a world marked by multiplicity of actors, who have increasing access to information and opportunities for interaction, the liberal approach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has become incessantly contested. I argue that Rawls fails to address the challenges brought by complex diversity in his normative framework of human rights. He considers a non-challenging notion of otherness in the formation of individuals and their rapport with the public domain. The other is someone to be dealt with in our quest to construct a political order rather than someone to engage with to have our freedom revealed and responsibly exercised. Rawls underestimates the dynamic process of estrangement and reconciliation among differentiated individuals as well as socio-political entities in the constitution of self-conscious moral agents. He restrains moral agents' exploration of critical capabilities, impairing a constructed notion of political consensus and eventually the legitimacy of human rights principles today.

Keywords: liberalism; normative framework; human rights; globalisation; complex diversity; Rawls; moral agency; otherness; public reason; Hegelian ethics; estrangement; reconciliation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2015.074930

International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, 2015 Vol.3 No.4, pp.326 - 342

Received: 09 Oct 2015
Accepted: 10 Oct 2015

Published online: 24 Feb 2016 *

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