Competing Ways of Seeing the Role of the Humanities in Promoting a Culture of Human Rights: A Philosophical Reflection
Once one rejects any substantive moral-cognitive content to concepts like human nature and truth, what can be called the "culture of human rights" must be construed as simply one cultural arrangement among others. The Post-modern Richard Rorty suggests that he can reject the moral-cognitive content of those concepts and yet still affirm that the culture of human rights is "superior". However, he admits his affirmation is a pure expression of ethnocentrism. The superiority claim is not a claim to any superior moral knowledge. He also acknowledges that this means moral education must be a matter of manipulating sentiments. I suggest and try to show, drawing on ideas with roots in the Later Wittgenstein, that Rorty's Post-modern picture rests on, and promotes, some fundamental confusions.
Keywords: Human Rights, Social Philosohy, Culture, Education, Humanities
Prof. Peter Tumulty
Professor, Department of Philosophy, St. Michael's College