Positivism, pluralism and the justification of human rights

  • Start Date: November 30, 2015 at 6:00 pm
  • End Date: November 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm
  • Event Link: http://justification.eventbrite.co.uk
  • Location: A48, Sir Clive Granger Building, University Park
  • Ticket Price: 0.00

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Please join us for a lecture by Baroness Professor Onora O’Neill of Bengarve, hosted jointly by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, the Centre for Research in Race and Rights, and the University’s research priority area in Rights and Justice. Is justification of human rights unnecessary? Is it sufficient that they are legally and ethically widely accepted? Human rights have never been more widely accepted and endorsed, although respect for and realisation of them remains patchy. Yet paradoxically there is no greater certainty or agreement on their justification than there used to be. To a considerable extent this is because human rights are victims of their own success. The need for justification seems to many people not urgent, or even unnecessary, because human rights are incorporated into international agreements and institutions, so receive positive justification. Others argue that human rights standards are standards on which persons with varying ethical views converge. But can either (legal) positivism or pluralism provide enough to justify human rights?

Onora O’Neill is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a board member of the Medical Research Council, and a crossbench member of the House of Lords. Previously she has been a BBC Reith lecturer, President of the British Academy, chair of the Nuffield Foundation, founding President of the British Philosophical Association, and Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge. She has written widely on political philosophy and ethics, international justice, bioethics, accountability and trust, justice and borders, as well as on the future of universities, the quality of legislation and the ethics of communication, including media ethics.

Free, all welcome. Register online.

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