Forum for politisk teori 

Tid:Fredag 30. januar kl. 14.15 -16.00. Sted: Norsk Senter for Menneskerettigheter, Universitetsgt. 22-24, resepsjon  3.etasje (inngang ved Norli bokhandel.)

Tore Lindholm:
Traditions, the Problem of Relativism and the Justification of Human Rights – David Little versus Tore Lindholm.

Is a plural, cross-cultural justification of human rights possible? Or is a tradition-independent standard of justification philosophically important if we are to avoid relativism and its dangers: opportunism and unreal compromises that cover up conflicts which must be faced – faced, that is, if the international importance of human rights is to be consolidated and their moral and cognitive stature enhanced?

Tore Lindholm has recently written two important articles on what he calls a cross-cultural, overlapping justification of human rights. His approach has been criticized by David Little, who demands a tradition-independent standard as essential to the justification of human rights. But are traditions (religious, philosophical, cultural, political) clear-cut and solid things? Can a holistic and dynamic approach to cross-cultural justification meet the charge of relativism, or is it dangerous to think that traditions-in-flux are the media through which moral principles can come to humanize politics and development on an international scale?

Tore Lindholm´s lecture will be commented on by Helge Høibraaten.

David Little, “Rethinking Human Rights: Religion, Relativism, and Other Matters”, Journal of Religious Ethics, 1999:151-177

Tore Lindholm, "Ethical justification of universal rights across normative divides", in: Göran Bexell and Dan-Erik Andersson, eds., Universal Ethics. Perspectives and Proposals from Scandinavian Scholars, The Hague: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002:63-84

Tore Lindholm, "Philosophical and Religious Justifications of Freedom of Religion or Belief",, in: Tore Lindholm, Cole Durham, Jr, Bahia Tahzib-Lie, eds., Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Deskbook, The Hague: Konninklijke Brill NV, 2004:19-61

Lindholm´s articles are available electronically, send a request to