Respect for and promotion of human rights have come to be seen as the basis of legitimacy of modern Western civilization. There is nevertheless a striking contrast between our common view on the importance of rights and our profound disagreement on their meaning and content. This disagreement has become increasingly sharp in the last decades, due to the emergence of controversial "new rights". The author gives an in-depth account of the most important moral debates, exploring the ethical and political foundations underlying the different understandings of rights. In the first part, he focuses on the role played by the ideas of "good" and "reason" in the Thomistic-Aristotelian and Kantian traditions; and he compares those concepts with the main currents of contemporary liberalism, which, among other things, focus on our emancipation from the limits of nature. The book attempts to show the dehumanizing effects of denying the relevance of integral human good in defining the scope of human rights and liberties, and offers an alternative way forward for our understanding of human rights in a pluralistic society.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield International
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 517 g
Dimensions: 231 x 160 x 20 mm
Between Desire and Reason is a very important and original contribution to what might be best called the 'natural-law civil liberties' project, inaugurated in effect by John Finnis' Natural Law and Natural Rights in 1980, and probably best exemplified by Robert P. George's 1993 Making Men Moral. Simon's book is, in my judgment, the best book-length full-orbed treatment of contemporary problems in constitutional theory from this basic perspective since George's magisterial text of 1993. The incorporation of key European court decision distinguishes it (in a welcome way) from even the best of the Anglo works of its kind. -- Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame
This is an unfailingly clear and fair-minded, as well as deep and novel, critique of modern liberalism. The quality of Simon's scholarship is high: I have learned a great deal from the book about both the classical tradition, and about the theories of Rawls, Dworkin, Singer, and Habermas. Simon's objections to the modern liberal theories, grounded in a frankly teleological conception of human nature and in the work of Robert Spaemann, pose a challenge that is not easily set aside, demonstrating that they all rely on a paradoxically 'ateleological teleology.' -- Robert C. Koons, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin
Fernando Simon's book helps us understand where our deepest divergences lie, in order to build bridges that allow us to guarantee the stability of the liberal project of a well-ordered society. It is a book at the center of practical reason, in the place where philosophy, politics and law converge. -- Jose Juan Moreso, Professor of Legal Philosophy at Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona