Since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, the language of human rights has become a lingua franca among many jurists, philosophers, and theologians. But over the same period of time, the universalist aspirations of human rights language have also attracted myriad critics, both religious and secular. For these critics, the language of human rights isn’t sufficiently common to identify, discuss, and adjudicate moral and political issues. In The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Challenge of Religion, the rightly influential human rights scholar Johannes Morsink develops an argument that is both historically grounded and philosophically nuanced to respond to these critics. Even though we are all confronted with the facts of global poverty and environmental degradation, he writes, “we do not have enough of a common language with which to discuss the problems and fears we share. It is that lack of a common or shared language that this book seeks to remedy”. More specifically, he argues, “we should all be able to agree to use the shared language of human rights when we discuss the world’s problems. I mean this not just on the level of street level activism but also on the design level of our religious and secular theories of remedial action”.
Ranganathan, Bharat, "Review: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Challenge of Religion" (2018). Religion Faculty Publications. 16.
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