Samuel Moyn

American historian

Samuel Aaron Moyn (born 1972) is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale University, which he joined in July 2017. Previously, he was a professor of history at Columbia University for thirteen years and a professor of history and of law at Harvard University for three years. His research interests are in modern European intellectual history, with special interests in France and Germany, political and legal thought, historical and critical theory, and sometimes Jewish studies.

Quotes edit

  • The drama of human rights, then, is that they emerged in the 1970s seemingly from nowhere. If the Soviet Union had generally lost credibility (and America’s Vietnamese adventure invited so much international outrage), human rights were not the immediate beneficiaries.
    • The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010), Prologue
  • Human rights are only a particular modern version of the ancient commitment by Plato and Deuteronomy—and Cyrus—to the cause of justice. Even among modern schemes of freedom and equality, they are only one among others; they were far from the first to make humanity’s global aspirations the central focus. Nor are human rights the only imaginable rallying cry around which to build a grassroots popular movement.
    • The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010), Prologue
  • The true history of human rights matters most of all, then, in order to confront their prospects today and in the future. If they do capture many longstanding values, it is equally critical to understand more honestly how and when human rights took shape as a widespread and powerful set of aspirations for a better and more humane world. After all, they have done far more to transform the terrain of idealism than they have the world itself.
    • The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010), Prologue

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