James Griffin’s Critical Approach Toward Human Rights in Relation to The Ottoman Practice


JOURNAL OF THE HUMAN AND SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCHES, vol.12, no.2, pp.1057-1068, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


James Griffin’s book “On Human Rights” is a critical account of the global leading imposition of human rights experience. Griffin provides a systematic outlook of the universality of human rights on basis of three key concepts: autonomy, liberty and a minimum provision. This article provides an analysis of Griffin’s critique and how the Ottoman practice of rights and duties overlaps and differs. According to Griffin Human Rights in the last fifty years has become a standing symbol of the Western global influence in promoting justice, fairness, political freedoms and equities as a human condition to be universally respected and acknowledged as an unalienable fundament. A condition that is formed through revolutions and major wars in the last couple of centuries so vigorous that gave birth to the need to protect the normative agent as is described by James Griffin. Griffin makes a philosophical case for the three concepts of autonomy, liberty and minimum provision. Upon further reading “On Human Rights” one encounters problems of practical nature that Griffin neither offers a clear explanation nor a functional framework for what he believes human rights ought to be. This book does however provide an invigorating debate on the question of how a discourse of rights can be uniquely different in virtue of distinct moral foundations. Griffin merely scrutinizes the arbitrariness of the universal declaration of human rights being based on concepts such as dignity instead of a universal shared moral theory. It is at this point that this paper perceives overlap between Griffins concepts of autonomy, liberty and minimum provision. The Ottoman practice and approach of individuals may not distinctly be labelled as human rights, yet does overlap with Griffin’s philosophical account of personhood.