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Lynn Hunt’s Inventing Human Rights Essay

1090 words - 5 pages

In Lynn Hunt’s Inventing Human Rights novel, she focuses on revealing the various incidents in which the discussion of human rights were created, critiqued and defined. She asks the question, “If equality of rights is so self-evident, then why did this assertion have to be made and why was it only made in specific times and places?” Her question is ideal. Why would something that is allegedly so self evident have to be discussed and debated about when clearly anyone that is a “human being” is entitled to equal rights?
Throughout the 18th century there were a lot of transformations that took place when it came to deciding what and who were entitled to this alleged equality of rights and ...view middle of the document...

It assigned sovereignty to the nation, not the king, and pronounced everyone equal before the law, thus opening positions to talent and merit and implicitly elimination all privilege based on birth.” (Hunt pg 16)
The universality that the French claimed in their declaration was what raised a worldwide opinion on who these alleged “men”, “man”, “citizens” and “society” were. These questions would help the French decide and begin to see that those who were not like them were still similar beings that deserved similar treatment. It helped to push people to consider and think about social boundaries.
Hunt believes that because of the work of Rousseau’s novel, it somewhat helped influenced others when it came to social boundaries. The novels contained characters that would be involved with those that are not in the same social line as they are. This gave the readers the ability of understand people who are not like them or who they don’t know still share the same effect of feeling and experiencing emotion.
With the creation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen one of its goal was to change the existing hereditary monarchy. They wanted to then create a new institution based on the philosophical movement that was occurring around that time known as the Enlightenment. The assembly voted on August 4 to draw up a declaration of rights. Deputy Rabaut Saint- Etienne stated that “Like the Americans, we want to regenerate ourselves, and therefore the declaration of rights is essentially necessary.” (Hunt pg 130) Still during this process that lacked to specify on who would be equal to human rights.
Yet, the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen did believe that: the law should be the same for everyone, it should not permit arbitrary imprisonment or punishments other than those “strictly and obviously necessary.” (Hunt 136) The act of torture was finally abolished but there were still details that needed to be specified in the declaration. Abbe’ Sieyes, a theorist, argued for a distinction between the natural and civil rights of citizens and then the political rights, he believed that women, children, foreigners and those who did not pay no taxes should be “passive” citizens only. Also he believed that those who contribute...

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