The Origins of Justice

The Origins of Justice

The Evolution of Morality, Human Rights, and Law

Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights

by John O'Manique

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

224 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm

  • ISBN: 9780812237061
  • Published: December 2002



The Origins of Justice: The Evolution of Morality, Human Rights, and Law presents a view of human origins and nature that is radically different from that of the prevailing Western paradigm. John O'Manique's view shifts the emphasis from a negative characterization, in which humans are primarily aggressive and solitary, to a more positive picture of human origins within social communities, in which empathy and mutual care are just as natural and effective as selfish, competitive behavior. Drawing from neo-Darwinian theory and research on evolution, O'Manique develops hypotheses on the origins of human rights and justice that challenge the Western paradigm and the writings of such influential modern theorists as John Rawls and Robert Nozick.

In the prevailing paradigm, justice is a rational solution to the natural condition of fear and conflict. But, O'Manique suggests, scientific evidence supports the hypothesis that human rights, law, and justice arise within caring communities, from the reflections of our early ancestors on genetically based inclinations required for biological development. With the birth of self-consciousness, O'Manique shows how humans, within the context of their communities and cultures, construct systems of justice which transcend the biological base from which they emerged.