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Download PDF by Steven B. Smith: Hegel's Critique of Liberalism: Rights in Context

By Steven B. Smith

In Hegel's Critique of Liberalism, Steven B. Smith examines Hegel's critique of rights-based liberalism and its relevance to modern political matters. Smith argues that Hegel reformulated vintage liberalism, protecting what was once of worth whereas rendering it extra aware of the dynamics of human background and the developmental constitution of the ethical character. Hegel's objective, Smith indicates, used to be to discover a fashion of incorporating either the traditional emphasis at the dignity or even architectonic personality of political existence with the trendy crisis for freedom, rights, and mutual popularity. Smith's insightful research unearths Hegel's relevance not just to modern political philosophers involved in normative problems with liberal thought but in addition to political scientists who've prompt a revival of the nation as a central concept of political inquiry.

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A world of sovereign independent states can be seen as a world in which diversity is respected. But even on this liberal account, there is but a limited role for human rights in world politics. Human rights may well be articulated, nurtured and protected within a given society or state, but, because of the relativist premise which underlies this particular liberal response, the argument cannot be made that human rights ought to be made applicable to all people. Once again the problem is the absence of the overarching framework.

This requires that the players have a right to free association. In order to be efficient companies in the marketplace the players need to have a right to freedom of movement and freedom of association, and so on. They need this in order to get their products to those who would buy them. A market without such freedoms would not work. I repeat my central contention which is that an understanding of the market presupposes that one understands what individual rights are and that one knows something about how the different rights relate to one another to constitute this social practice as a whole.

They are natural rights. The rights we are born with give us a standard by which we can determine whether specific acts, policies, pieces of legislation, institutions and constitutions are justified or not. If any of these overrides our individual rights as humans, then they are unjust and we have good ethical reason to oppose them. These natural rights are to be distinguished from legal rights which we have within legal systems of positive law. 48 They are prior to positive law. It is at this point in the story that the intractable problems emerge.

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