The wrong of rights: the moral authority of the family

J Med Philos. 2010 Oct;35(5):600-16. doi: 10.1093/jmp/jhq040. Epub 2010 Sep 20.


I argue that the notion of human rights is a flawed notion of relatively recent historical origin, growing primarily out of Enlightenment concerns to separate human beings from their metaphysical and communal heritage. I critique liberal, secular individualism as an abstract perspective that fails to comprehend those fundamental family relations out of which genuine human life emerges and within which it must remain if it is to be perceptive, grounded, and concrete. Finally, I argue that the most important relations humans sustain to each other are internal, not external to them and that the bonding found through empathy is more insightful in decision making than the analytic connections engendered through human reason.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Family Conflict / ethnology
  • Family Relations / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Moral Obligations
  • Morale*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Personhood