The practice-dependence approach seems destined to play an increasing role in political theory. It offers a new way of theorizing about human rights and distributive justice that promises to settle some of the ongoing disputes about their justification, content, and scope. In sharp contrast with naturalistic theories, which conceive of human rights as an abstract moral ideal, practice-dependence theories regard human rights as a public political doctrine constructed to play a specific regulatory role in contemporary world politics. They maintain accordingly that the content of those rights should be determined in light of the role played by human rights in the contemporary practice of international politics. Similarly, those theories do not conceive of distributive justice simply as a moral virtue proper to all human beings, but rather as a political value arising as necessary to the regulation of certain social and political practices. In this view, the content and scope of justice should therefore depend on an interpretation of the structure and point of the practices in question.
The articles gathered in this volume propose a comprehensive introduction to the practice-dependence approach by some of its major supporters, as well as a critical discussion of its theoretical promises.