restricted access Human Rights and Harmony

There are a number of reasons for thinking that human rights and harmony, two values much discussed with regard to contemporary China, make poor bedfellows. They emerge from different traditions and may apply in different ways: human rights setting a minimal standard and harmony articulating an elusive ideal. In addition, might not harmony demand the sacrifice of one person’s rights in order to achieve some larger objective? Does not individual striving to protect one’s human rights smack of disharmony? Drawing on both Confucian and contemporary Western philosophy, however, this essay argues that a simultaneous commitment to human rights and to harmony is both coherent and desirable.