Abstract

This essay asks whether dead bodies have human rights, and if so, what philosophical foundations those rights have. With equal importance, it considers how these rights would operate in a real-world area of human rights practice, the forensic exhumation of mass graves. It argues that human rights for the dead are philosophically unworkable and irreconcilable with the practical limitations of forensic work; therefore, we should not think of the dead as having human rights. However, this conclusion does not end discussion about what forensic investigators do for dead bodies. Rather, it makes room for a modest but rich sense of how exhumation can restore the identity, physical location, and care that have been denied to victims of atrocity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-794X
Print ISSN
0275-0392
Pages
pp. 921-950
Launched on MUSE
2010-11-24
Open Access
No
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