Theists commonly hold that God endows humans with rights. Standard explanations draw on natural law theory or divine command theory. However, the natural law account does not give God a central role in explaining our rights, and the divine command account does not assign human nature a significant explanatory role. A successful theistic explanation of human rights must meet three conditions: (1) God must directly explain human rights; (2) human nature must also directly explain human rights; (3) this dual contribution must explain why morality forbids rights violations by grounding the deontic reasons associated with rights. I propose a holiness account of rights. On this view, God endows human nature with rights by making human nature holy, and God does so by fashioning humans with one of God's essential properties: the capacity to love. This theory satisfies all three conditions and explains the deontological character of rights.
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Vallier, Kevin, "Human Rights and Divine Holiness" (2023). Philosophy Faculty Publications. 3.
Cambridge University Press
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