“Human rights are difficult to pin down because their definition, indeed their very existence, depends on emotions as much as on reason.  The claim of self-evidence relies ultimately on an emotional appeal…we are most certain that a human right is at issue when we feel horrified by  its violation…Human rights are not just a doctrine formulated in documents; they rest on a disposition for other people…To have human rights people  had to be perceived as separate individuals…capable of exercising moral judgment…they had to be able to empathize with others…Empathy depends on the recognition that others feel and think as we do, that our inner feelings are alike in some fundamental fashion…Novels made the point that all people are fundamentally similar because of their inner feelings…In this way, novels created a sense of equality and empathy…Can it be coincidental that the three greatest novels of psychological identification of the eighteenth century—Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa and Rousseau’s Julie—were all published in the period that immediately preceded the appearance of the concept of the “rights of man”?...novel reading seems especially important because the heyday of one particular kind of novel—the epistolary novel—coincides chronologically with the birth of human rights.  Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History; W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp. 26 – 40. 

Death and the Maiden, Ariel Dorfman,
How to Read Donald Duck, Ariel Dorfman,