Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie Hartley

Second Advisor

Andrew Altman

Third Advisor

Andrew J. Cohen

Fourth Advisor

Sandra Dwyer

Fifth Advisor

Brook Sadler

Sixth Advisor

Katy Fulfer


Human rights are commonly taken to include both behavioral freedoms, such as a right to express opinions, and safeguards against the behaviors of others, such as a right not to be tortured. I examine the claim by Allen Buchanan and others that democracy should be considered a human right. I discuss what human rights are, what they do, and what they obligate moral agents to do, comparing this framework to attributes of democracy. I conclude that while democracy itself is both too nebulous and too specific to be the subject of a human right, it may be proper to speak of a human right to state self-determination.