Toward a richer account of human rights in Christian moral theory : from Wolterstorff and Hauerwas to Wojtyla.

Schwartz, Joel Aric.
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The role of human rights is disputed in Christian moral theory. When human rights are discussed, it is common to find that a problematic understanding of the human agent is assumed in those discussions, one that understands the agent motivated strictly by belief and accompanying desires. This connection is reflected in the work of Christian thinkers Nicholas Wolterstorff and Stanley Hauerwas. While they take opposing views of the value of human rights in Christian moral theory, both see a connection between this understanding of the human agent and human rights. An alternate understanding of the human agent focuses on developing perceptions and proper valuation of the good. Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II, expresses an understanding of human dignity and perfectionism in his personalism that results in this alternate understanding of the human agent. When using this different understanding of the human agent, we can discover a richer account of human rights, an account that encourages us not only to do actions that typically reflect a respect for the dignity of human persons, but to actually cultivate appreciation for that dignity. Two oft-­‐neglect characteristics of human rights are highlighted in the final chapter: a Wojtylian principle of correlatives and a commitment to completion of the human person, which are suggested by the perfectionism in Wojtyla’s personalism. Both of these characteristics of human rights reflect this alternate understanding of human agency, moving us toward both perceiving and valuing the human dignity in ourselves and one another in a meaningful way.

Ethics., Human rights., Christian moral theory., Motivation of human action., Personalism.