Human rights without foundations: a systemic approach to justice

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


This presentation is in roughly two parts. I begin by saying a few things about human rights as an historical idea in philosophy and what I take away from that. In the process I talk critically about what I see as a curious obsession with moral foundations in human rights philosophy, which plays out both in history of philosophy and normative theory. So, I use history to implicitly argue for a philosophy of human rights without foundations and will try to explain what I mean by that. In the second part I sketch some ideas for how I think philosophy of human rights needs to be done or redone in order to be a relevant and potentially action-guiding analytical tool in our unequal world.

I argue that human rights philosophy needs to rethink what it is to be egalitarian and should stop its preoccupation with the human person as a moral “foundation”. Instead the focus should be on political and empirically informed analysis of the circumstances in which issues of human rights and rights claiming appear.
Period2021 May 26
Held atUniversity of Gothenburg, Sweden
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Free keywords

  • human rights