Moral responsibility and speaking to the 'dark side of human rights'

Becker, A. (2017)

CITATION: Becker, A. 2017. Moral responsibility and speaking to the dark side of human rights. South African Journal of Higher Education, 31(6):45‒60, doi:10.28535/31-6-1627.

The original publication is available at


This article uses a postmodern lens to question assumptions inherent to three normative claims for the human rights project in the context of post-1994 South Africa. The claims are that human rights are part of humanity’s narrative of progress; that they are universal and inclusive; and that their subject is the liberal humanist subject. Kapur (2006) argues that these claims paradoxically point to the ‘dark side of human rights’. By plugging data into theory and theory into data (Jackson & Mazzei 2012). I argue that student-teachers engage with human rights in a discursive manner and structure relations between self and the Other in rational human rights spaces. I pose that by choosing responsibility for an Other[i], South Africans can transcend rational spaces and structure relations between self and an Other in moral spaces. In moral spaces the conflict inherent to the contradictory nature of moral choices and the conflict between self-consciousness and renunciation present possibilities for continually re-structuring human rights and a humane world (cf. Fanon,1967).

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL:
This item appears in the following collections: