Human rights have become the grounding of human solidarity. They are, today, the substance of the brotherhood of man. They take the place once occupied by "our common clay," our common ancestry, and our common relationship with the Deity.
This being the case, it is important to understand what, in turn, grounds human rights. There is nothing approaching a consensus: indeed, the impressive edifice on which much of the political order of the world now rests has been constructed based on the conscious decision by its principal authors to prescind from asking this basic question. Unsurprisingly under these circumstances, more and more rights are being proposed, and many divergent theories are propounded as to their bases.
This Essay considers four proposed bases and rejects them. It proposes an account according to which the ethical basis for human rights is the protection of fundamental human attributes.
Scott T. Fitzgibbon. "The Ethical Bases of Human Rights." Journal of Law in Society 19, no.1 (2019): 19-48.