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The Moral Presuppositions of Human Rights Discourse

The Heritage Foundation
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Today everybody claims to be for human rights. People radically disagree, however, about what human rights there are. Can disagreements of this sort be adjudicated? Professor George argues that it requires an examination of the moral presuppositions of human rights discourse itself.


Dr. Robert P. George is McCormick Professorship of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

He has several times been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. He has served as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the President’s Council on Bioethics. He has also served as the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology. He was a Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore, he holds the degrees of J.D. and M.T.S. from Harvard University and the degrees of D.Phil., B.C.L., D.C.L., and D.Litt. from Oxford University, in addition to twenty-one honorary doctorates. He is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Bradley Prize, the Irving Kristol Award of the American Enterprise Institute, and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

His books include Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Morality and In Defense of Natural Law (both published by Oxford University Press).

William Saunders is a graduate of the Harvard Law School, who has been involved in issues of public policy, law and ethics for thirty years. A regular columnist for the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Mr. Saunders has written widely on these topics, as well as on Catholic social teaching. He has given lectures in law schools and colleges throughout the United States and the world. He is the Director of the Program in Human Rights for the Institute for Human Ecology.

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