Examples of Hard Universalism

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About this sample


Words: 711 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 711|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Human Rights
  3. International Law
  4. Environmental Ethics
  5. Conclusion


Hard universalism, also known as absolutism, refers to the ethical perspective that asserts the existence of universal moral principles that apply to all individuals, regardless of context or situation. Unlike relativism, which suggests that moral values are context-dependent and subjective, hard universalism posits that certain moral truths are absolute and unchanging. This philosophical stance has profound implications for ethics, law, and international relations, as it advocates for a consistent and unyielding application of moral principles. This essay will explore examples of hard universalism, highlighting its application in human rights, international law, and environmental ethics. By examining these domains, we can better understand the impact and challenges associated with adopting a hard universalist perspective in a diverse and complex world.

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Human Rights

One of the most prominent examples of hard universalism is the concept of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, embodies the principles of hard universalism by asserting that all human beings are entitled to certain inalienable rights. These rights include the right to life, liberty, and security; freedom from torture and slavery; and the right to education and work, among others. The UDHR's assertion that these rights are universal and applicable to all individuals, regardless of nationality, culture, or religion, reflects a hard universalist stance. This perspective has been instrumental in shaping international human rights law and advocacy, providing a moral and legal framework for addressing injustices and protecting individuals' dignity and well-being. However, the application of these universal principles often encounters resistance and challenges, particularly in contexts where cultural norms and practices conflict with the prescribed universal rights.

International Law

International law provides another significant example of hard universalism. The establishment of international legal frameworks, such as the Geneva Conventions, demonstrates the commitment to universal moral principles governing the conduct of war and the protection of non-combatants. These conventions, which set out rules for humane treatment of prisoners of war, prohibition of torture, and protection of civilians, are founded on the belief that certain ethical standards should be upheld universally, regardless of the parties involved in a conflict. The International Criminal Court (ICC) further exemplifies hard universalism by seeking to hold individuals accountable for crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes, based on the premise that such acts are universally condemnable. While the enforcement of international law faces significant challenges, including issues of sovereignty and political will, the underlying principles reflect a commitment to upholding universal moral standards across diverse global contexts.

Environmental Ethics

Environmental ethics is another domain where hard universalism plays a crucial role. The concept of sustainable development, as outlined in the Brundtland Report, emphasizes the need to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This principle reflects a hard universalist perspective by advocating for a consistent ethical approach to environmental stewardship that applies across all cultures and nations. The Paris Agreement on climate change further illustrates this commitment to universal principles, as it seeks to unite countries in the effort to mitigate global warming and protect the planet for future generations. The agreement's emphasis on common but differentiated responsibilities acknowledges different capabilities and circumstances while upholding the universal moral imperative to address climate change. The challenge, however, lies in balancing these universal principles with the varying economic and social realities of different countries, highlighting the complexities of implementing hard universalism in practice.

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The exploration of hard universalism through the lenses of human rights, international law, and environmental ethics reveals both the strengths and challenges of this ethical perspective. By asserting the existence of universal moral principles, hard universalism provides a robust framework for advocating for justice, accountability, and sustainability on a global scale. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and the Paris Agreement exemplify the application of hard universalist principles in addressing some of the most pressing moral issues of our time. However, the implementation of these principles often encounters resistance and complexities, particularly in contexts where cultural, political, and economic factors diverge from the prescribed universal norms. Despite these challenges, the commitment to hard universalism remains a powerful force in promoting a more just and ethical world, underscoring the enduring relevance and significance of universal moral principles in guiding human conduct and shaping global policies.

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Cite this Essay

Examples Of Hard Universalism. (2024, Jun 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Examples Of Hard Universalism.” GradesFixer, 11 Jun. 2024,
Examples Of Hard Universalism. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
Examples Of Hard Universalism [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 11 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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