Rorty and human rights
Contingency, emotions and how to defend human rights telling stories



This article draws some of the consequences of Rorty's thinking for the way human rights can be conceptualized and cultivated today. On the basis of Rorty's critique of foundationalism, this reflection sketches a theory of human rights without metaphysics - a cultural theory of natural law. It turns from a rationalistic theory of rights towards emotions, and presents sympathy and solidarity as the sine qua non of moral progress. This article also calls for a moral global warming. Agreeing with Rorty that ours is a literary culture, this text finds in the poeticisation of scientific and cold modernity one of the more adequate paths for the sensibilisation of the contemporary global culture - the sentimental education of the epoch - and for advancing the quest for human rights in our times.


Rortyhuman rightsNeopragmatismcontingencyemotionssympathytelling storiessentimental education
  • Page/Article: 93-112
  • DOI: 10.18352/ulr.164
  • Published on 14 Apr 2011
  • Peer Reviewed