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utilitarian can be understood as an expression of an underlying ontology. (For example, Dworkin in Taking Rights Seriously (1977) argues for the integrity of legislation and principle.) Or the utilitarian approach can assume that it grasps, not a universal ontology of the human, but the principles of modern rational social progress. Within broadly liberal institutions, in practice at least, the two approaches often work in tandem. The language of universal human rights imagines it is talking to and for all the world, calling on both the persistence

in Human rights and the borders of suffering
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communitarian perspectives. Which of these is the most convincing? Utilitarianism The utilitarian approach has been sketched most brilliantly by Derek Parfit (1984: 377) who begins with what he calls the Non-Identity Problem (N-IP): ‘If a choice between two social policies will affect the standard of living or the quality of life for about a century, it will affect the details of all the lives that, in our community, are later lived. As a result, some of those who later live will owe their existence to our choice of one of these two policies. After one or two centuries, this

in After the new social democracy
Dominant approaches

Rights (1948) gives some indication of this practical complementarity between contractarian and utilitarian approaches to rights. The language of the Universal Declaration is contractarian. The more frequent justification within UN and national policy-making bodies for upholding the rights standards set out in the Universal Declaration, however, is that most states have signed it, this signatory process being part of the essential procedures for establishing reasonable parameters of international order. The fund of imagery is contractarian while the language of

in Human rights and the borders of suffering
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1990s and early 2000s –​and different too from the glossy palate he established in JFK and Nixon. The cinema-​vérité style that framed Castro, Chávez and the Palestinian and Israeli leaders was notably different from the didactic approach employed in the subsequent Untold History series, yet both shared a utilitarian approach to structure and presentation that perhaps only Errol Morris has matched. The comparison of Untold History with, say, Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight (2005) is interesting too. Jarecki’s film found many plaudits and nothing like as much disquiet

in The cinema of Oliver Stone