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International Political Theory on Inequalities - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 294
Inequalities/International political theory/Brown: The international human rights regime initially
stressed a political conception of rights, but economic and social rights have never been far from the agenda. The most influential account here has been that of Henry Shue (1983)(1), who argues the focus should be on basic rights seen as 'everyone's minimum reasonable demand upon the rest of humanity'.
Basic rights can be broken down into two components:
1) security rights, that is, the right not to be sub jected to murder, torture, mayhem, rape or assault; and
2) subsistence rights, that is, the right to minimal economic security, 'unpolluted air, unpolluted water, adequate food, adequate clothing, adequate shelter and minimum preventive public health care' (1983(1): 19, 23).
Brown: An obvious question is whether these are 'rights' in the full sense of the term, as opposed to desiderata. Are there correlative duties to theserights? Can the 'rest of humanity' be seen as the kind of entity that could deliver on such duties? These are difficult questions to answer in a satisfactory way, and the notion of basic rights is probably best seen as a rhetorical device to draw attention to the great inequalities that characterize the contemporary international order, such inequalities are the subject of theories of lobal social justice.

1. Shue, H. (1983) Basic Rights: Famine, Affluence and United States Foreign Policy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Brown, Chris 2004. „Political Theory and International Relations“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
International Political Theory
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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