Seminar Series: Philosophy of Human Rights

This seminar: Jakob Elster: Allen Buchanan on "the Mirroring View"

Convenors: Inga Bostad and Jakob Elster

Sculpture "Think partner" by Hans-Jörg Limbach, 1980, in front of the Friedrichsbau, Stuttgart. Photo: SJL, via Wikimedia Commons

The purpose of this seminar series is to foster a discussion of the major topics in the philosophy of human rights, through the reading of central philosophical texts. Each session will consist of an introduction (ca. 30 minutes), where an invited speaker presents her/his interpretation of a chosen text and the philosophical issues it raises, followed by a general discussion. The seminar will include both fresh readings of classical philosophical texts and discussions of contemporary philosophical writings.

The texts we read will be made available in advance. As the introductions will be substantial, it will not be necessary to have read the texts in order to join the seminar, but it is of course recommended.

Jakob Elster: Allen Buchanan on "the Mirroring View"

In his book The Heart of Human Rights (2013), Allen Buchanan describes a position he calls "the Mirroring View": the view that "the standard or typical justification for an international legal human right must appeal to an antecedently existing moral human right". Buchanan argues both that many contemporary philosophers implicitly hold the Mirroring View and that this view should be rejected. Buchanan has two main arguments against this view:

  • 1. Moral human rights are not necessary for justifying international legal human rights;
  • 2. Moral human rights are not sufficient for justifying international legal human rights.

Elster will present Buchanan's view and discuss what might be said in favor of the Mirroring View. The discussion will be based on chapter two of The Heart of Human Rights

Earlier seminars in this series:

Heiner Bielefeldt on Kant's "What is Enlightenment?"

Grethe Netland: An extract from John Rawls' The Law of Peoples

Published May 11, 2017 9:41 AM - Last modified June 29, 2017 2:27 PM