Republican freedom and human rights

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


Title Republican freedom and human rights
Person and role
Description This presentation proceeds from dissatisfaction with mainstream human rights philosophy in two intertwined respects. One concerns the conception of the person; the other concerns the capacity – or lack of it – of human rights philosophy to address current political challenges. I will argue that if human rights protection is to be strongest for those who are weakest – which it should be – human rights philosophy needs to rid itself of its preference for associating personhood with cognitive and emotional capacities, and instead focus on social and political vulnerability as ground for rights possession. I will also argue that by using human rights as an individualized and “local” principle of justice rather than a systemic one, human rights philosophers make human rights incapable of addressing crucial matters of political injustice. The example used will be the steep increase in global economic inequality. Human rights philosophy has an uncanny tendency to stay clear of the most pressing political challenges of our time. Using a “republican” conception of freedom as non-domination, I will try to show that this is at least partly due to a preoccupation with the morality of the person rather than the reality of institutionalized oppression and vulnerability.

2017 May 24

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Philosophy
  • History of Ideas


Related organisations
2017 May 24

Event (Conference)

TitleFreedom: Liberalism, Republicanism and Beyond
LocationNetherlands Institute for Advanced Study
Degree of recognitionInternational event