A discussion of human rights might focus on any of several different phenomena. These include ‘fundamental moral rights that one possesses as a human being’, but they also include rights conferred in international law and in national legal systems (v). Carl Wellman sometimes speaks of these as distinct ‘dimensions’ of human rights, though a term like ‘categories’ might be more appropriate. There is, Wellman says, ‘a complex interplay’ between these categories of human rights, and he aims ‘to clarify these relationships and thereby contribute to our understanding and evaluation of human rights’ (v).

In early chapters of his book (especially Chs 1 and 5), Wellman takes issue with several philosophers, including Charles Beitz, Rex Martin, James Nickel and Joseph Raz. He is anxious to defend the...

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