Outline of a social theory of rights: A neo-pragmatist approach


This article articulates a neo-pragmatist theory of human rights by drawing and expanding upon the American classical pragmatism of G.H. Mead. It characterizes this neo-pragmatist theory of rights by its anti-foundationalist, relational, fictive, and constitutive nature, and begins by providing a reconstruction of Mead’s social pragmatist approach to rights, a contribution systematically ignored by contemporary sociologists of rights. Next, it details the cost of this disciplinary oblivion by examining how much neo-pragmatism, critical theory, and legal consciousness studies have meanwhile gained by engaging with Mead’s work on rights. Finally, it discusses the contributions of this historical-theoretical exercise to the rapidly growing sociology of rights, and shows that by supplementing the neo-Meadian approach with a recent interpretation of Hobbes’s fictional theory of politics, there appear to be substantive gains in the empirical study of the origins, consequences, meaning, and denial of rights.

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@inproceedings{Silva2013OutlineOA, title={Outline of a social theory of rights: A neo-pragmatist approach}, author={Filipe Carreira da Silva}, year={2013} }