Human rights are, literally, the rights we have simply because we are human. They are equal rights: one either is or is not a human being, and thus has exactly the same human rights as every other human being. They are inalienable rights: one cannot stop being a human being, and therefore cannot lose one's human rights, no matter how horribly one behaves nor how barbarously one is treated. Human rights are also universal rights, held by every human being, everywhere. This chapter offers a conceptual analysis of human rights, a brief account of their historical evolution, and an introduction to some leading theoretical controversies.

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