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The principle of generic consistency as the supreme principle of human rights.

Beyleveld, Deryck (2011) 'The principle of generic consistency as the supreme principle of human rights.', Human rights review., 13 (1). pp. 1-18.


Alan Gewirth’s claim that agents contradict that they are agents if they do not accept that the principle of generic consistency (PGC) is the supreme principle of practical rationality has been greeted with widespread scepticism. The aim of this article is not to defend this claim but to show that if the first and least controversial of the three stages of Gewirth’s argument for the PGC is sound, then agents must interpret and give effect to human rights in ways consistent with the PGC, or deny that human beings are equal in dignity and rights (which idea defines human rights) or that they are agents (and hence subject to any rules at all). Implications for the interpretation of the international legal system of human rights inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 are sketched.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Gewirth, Human Rights, Kant, Principle of Generic Consistency
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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:13 August 2013
Date of first online publication:November 2011
Date first made open access:No date available

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