Wide-ranging and ambitious, Justice combines moral philosophy and Christian ethics to develop an important theory of rights and of justice as grounded in rights. Nicholas Wolterstorff discusses what it is to have a right, and he locates rights in the respect due the worth of the rights-holder. After contending that socially-conferred rights require the existence of natural rights, he argues that no secular account of natural human rights is successful; he offers instead a theistic account. Wolterstorff prefaces his systematic account of justice as grounded in rights with an exploration of the common claim that rights-talk is inherently individualistic and possessive. He demonstrates that the idea of natural rights originated neither in the Enlightenment nor in the individualistic philosophy of the late Middle Ages, but was already employed by the canon lawyers of the twelfth century. He traces our intuitions about rights and justice back even further, to Hebrew and Christian scriptures. After extensively discussing justice in the Old Testament and the New, he goes on to show why ancient Greek and Roman philosophy could not serve as a framework for a theory of rights.
Connecting rights and wrongs to God's relationship with humankind, Justice not only offers a rich and compelling philosophical account of justice, but also makes an important contribution to overcoming the present-day divide between religious discourse and human rights.
Nicholas Wolterstorff is the Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale University and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His many books include "Until Justice" and "Peace Embrace".
Preface vii Introduction 1 PART I The Archeology of Rights 19 CHAPTER ONE: Two Conceptions of Justice 21 CHAPTER TWO: A Contest of Narratives 44 CHAPTER THREE: Justice in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible 65 CHAPTER FOUR: On De-justicizing the New Testament 96 CHAPTER FIVE: Justice in the New Testament Gospels 109 PART II Fusion of Narrative with Theory: The Goods to Which We Have Rights 133 CHAPTER SIX: Locating That to Which We Have Rights 135 CHAPTER SEVEN: Why Eudaimonism Cannot Serve as Framework for a Theory of Rights 149 CHAPTER EIGHT: Augustine's Break with Eudaimonism 180 CHAPTER NINE: The Incursion of the Moral Vision of Scripture into Late Antiquity 207 CHAPTER TEN: Characterizing Life- and History-Goods 227 PART III Theory: Having a Right to a Good 239 CHAPTER ELEVEN: Accounting for Rights 241 CHAPTER TWELVE: Rights Not Grounded in Duties 264 CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Rights Grounded in Respect for Worth 285 CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The Nature and Grounding of Natural Human Rights 311 CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Is a Secular Grounding of Human Rights Possible? 323 CHAPTER SIXTEEN: A Theistic Grounding of Human Rights 342 CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Applications and Implications 362 EPILOGUE: Concluding Reflections 385 General Index 395 Index of Scriptural References 399