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Human Rights, Unicorns, Etc.

Human Rights, Unicorns, Etc. Review Articles / Research in Phenomenology 38 (2008) 293–313 303 Human Rights, Unicorns, Etc. Peg Birmingham. Hannah Arendt and Human Rights: Th e Predicament of Com- mon Responsibility . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006. 161 pp. . . . there are no such [human] rights, and belief in them is one with belief in witches and unicorns. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue One feature of Hannah Arendt’s thought that repulses friends and critics alike is its normative asceticism: her moral minimalism eschews all deontological principles, a priori norms, and prima facie duties. It is not an accident that the only two moral “precepts” to make a significant appearance in Th e Human Condition are forgiveness and promising, precepts “that are not applied to action from the outside, from some supposedly higher faculty or from experi- ences outside action’s own reach.” 1 To claim that forgiveness and promising are internal to action is to claim that their validity and authority depend essen- tially on action itself, on being performed—saying “I promise” or “I forgive.” Promising and forgiving are actions also in that they are spontaneous, unpre- dictable; they begin something new, and in the case of promising, can create binding http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Research in Phenomenology Brill

Human Rights, Unicorns, Etc.

Research in Phenomenology , Volume 38 (2): 303 – Jan 1, 2008

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2008 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0085-5553
eISSN
1569-1640
DOI
10.1163/156916408X287021
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Review Articles / Research in Phenomenology 38 (2008) 293–313 303 Human Rights, Unicorns, Etc. Peg Birmingham. Hannah Arendt and Human Rights: Th e Predicament of Com- mon Responsibility . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006. 161 pp. . . . there are no such [human] rights, and belief in them is one with belief in witches and unicorns. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue One feature of Hannah Arendt’s thought that repulses friends and critics alike is its normative asceticism: her moral minimalism eschews all deontological principles, a priori norms, and prima facie duties. It is not an accident that the only two moral “precepts” to make a significant appearance in Th e Human Condition are forgiveness and promising, precepts “that are not applied to action from the outside, from some supposedly higher faculty or from experi- ences outside action’s own reach.” 1 To claim that forgiveness and promising are internal to action is to claim that their validity and authority depend essen- tially on action itself, on being performed—saying “I promise” or “I forgive.” Promising and forgiving are actions also in that they are spontaneous, unpre- dictable; they begin something new, and in the case of promising, can create binding

Journal

Research in PhenomenologyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2008

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