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August 17, 2018
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v2.1 Reference

Who Is My Neighbor?

Personalism and the Foundations of Human Rights

Over the past half century the language of human rights has gained such dominance in moral, civic, and ecclesiastical discourse that ethical and social questions are increasingly framed in terms of rights. Yet the vast literature dealing with human and civil rights focuses almost exclusively on the juridical and practical ramifications of rights, rather than the philosophical, moral, and foundational aspects. As a result, the proliferation of rights claims and catalogs has not been accompanied by a reasoned case for the existence of human rights or rational criteria for distinguishing true moral entitlement from spurious claims.

Who Is My Neighbor? makes an original, compelling case for human rights as moral entitlements grounded in the dignity of the human person. Drawing upon insights of Thomistic Personalism, Thomas D. Williams sets forth in clear, vigorous prose the anthropological, philosophical, and theological bases for asserting that the human person must always be loved as an end and never used as a mere means.

Williams grants ample space to critics of rights theory and systematically answers their arguments by showing how, rightly understood, human rights dovetail with classical ethical theory and traditional formulations of justice and natural law. Williams suggests that rights language not only does no violence to classical ethics but serves to highlight certain fundamental truths about the human person essential to right human relations.

Thomas D. Williams, L.C., is Dean of Theology and Professor of Moral Theology and Catholic Social Doctrine at Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome. He has authored numerous books and articles, including Servants and Witnesses of Hope and Springtime of Evangelization.

Praise for the book:

"Thomas Williams has produced a very well-written an informative book, successfully bringing ethical personalism to bear upon the issue of the legitimacy of rights language." — Kevin L. Flannery, S.J., The Thomist

"Williams's clear distinction between moral and legal rights is quite helpful. Much of the literature starts with legal rights, which leads to unnecessary problems. This book helps to get us over that hump. If we do not begin with the interpersonal character of moral rights we will never understand the evolution of the Catholic tradition in this matter."—F. Russell Hittinger, Warren Professor of Catholic Studies and Research, Professor of Law, University of Tulsa

"The 'human rights revolution' of recent decades desperately needs a firmer foundation than moral sentiment, utilitarian calculation, or positive law. The achievement of this book is to ground rights in the dignity of the human person, and to do so in a way that should be convincing to Catholics and non-Catholics alike."—Richard John Neuhaus, Editor in Chief of First Things: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life

The Catholic University of America Press

9780813231563 : who-is-my-neighbor-williams
Paperback / softback
342 Pages
$34.95 USD

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