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This title in other editions

Universal Rights Down to Earth (Amnesty International Global Ethics)


Universal Rights Down to Earth (Amnesty International Global Ethics) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The acclaimed author of and legal scholar Richard Thompson Ford offers an expert analysis of human rights struggles across the globe, uncovering the complex realities of observing "universal" principles in specific cultures. As he engages thinkers such as Edmund Burke and Karl Marx, Ford sketches divergent views on how we define rights before he offers his critique: on the ground, rights ultimately depend on a dense network of institutions and an underlying civic culture for enforcement. In fact, even well-meaning reforms can lead in practice to increased exploitation of the people they would protect. With a clear, persuasive voice, Ford explores five cases--from distributing food to the poor in India to sex-trafficking in Japan--and drives home a provocative conclusion. We must engage locally--in local laws, institutions, and social relationships--to realize meaningful change. And those who would "speak truth to power" must also acknowledge the potential costs of reform.

Book News Annotation:

Ford (law, Stanford Law School) explores how and why attempts to apply universal human rights in some cultures leads to problems and sometimes backfire and make worse the conditions they were supposed to remedy. He also notes that the rush to make every ideal a universal right can lessen the value of all rights. In his conclusion, he contends that the world is not likely to ever be the perfect place that religious and humanitarian idealists envision--but that real improvements can come from more practical efforts in political negotiation, public policy, and enhancing efficient production and distribution of goods. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


A path-blazing lesson on how to reconcile lofty human rights ambitions with political and cultural realities.

About the Author

Richard Thompson Ford is the George E. Osborne Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, and Slate.

Product Details

Ford, Richard Thompson
W. W. Norton & Company
Politics-Human Rights
Norton Global Ethics Series
Publication Date:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » Human Rights
History and Social Science » Politics » Political Science
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics

Universal Rights Down to Earth (Amnesty International Global Ethics) Used Hardcover
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Product details 160 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393079005 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A path-blazing lesson on how to reconcile lofty human rights ambitions with political and cultural realities.
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