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Nietzsche and the human rights

Altun, Damla
Today the conception of human rights is an idea that preserves its intransitive, inalienable and indivisible quality with a cross-cultural reference. The idea of human rights, entering our lives from the 18th century onwards, has gained a worldwide recognition through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The idea occupies place both at the level of rules and principles as a project and at the level of our daily problem solutions, modifications and the daily course of our lives as a pragmatics. The political framework provides the idea of human rights such a justification that it constitutes a significant part of our decisions, thoughts and actions. On the other hand, the grounds of the idea has been questioned as a part of the Enlightenment project since it was first articulated and especially in recent decades certain radical criticisms originating from Nietzche’s thought became prevalent. The thesis questions this easy alliance between Nietzsche and radical attacks to human rights thought. In the first chapter, I first provided a brief historical overview of the idea of human rights. Then, I had a closer look towards the principles of universality, equality, autonomy and is-ought distinction with special reference to Kantian formulations of these concepts and in the second chapter, I elaborate Nietzsche’s perception of these same principles and our understanding of conventional morality in general, to reach an articulated answer to the question: Would Nietzsche be categorically against human rights? I conclude that his philosophical attitude to these four principles differ from each other. In this context the thesis regards Nietzschean informal structures over the Kantian formal ones as complementary for a full grasp of the idea of human rights by offering a connection of the transitionality between Kant and Nietzsche.