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Hadley Arkes fears 'soft nihilism' in Obama approach to human rights

September 28, 2010

US President Barack Obama raised eyebrows with a recent speech in which he quoted the famous line from Declaration of Independence about “unalienable rights,” but omitted the mention of a Creator who endowed men with those rights.

The omission is highly significant, Hadley Arkes argues. Without a reference to the Creator, there is no standard by which to judge and justify human rights: no ultimate source from which those rights are derived. Arkes sees a “soft nihilism” behind the pretense that human rights can be based on nothing more than consensus.


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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 28, 2010 6:38 PM ET USA

    May one disagree sharply with Mr. Arkes' assessment? His adjective, not his noun. There is nothing soft about Barack Hussein Obama's nihilism.