Seminar Series: Philosophy of Human Rights

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

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.

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

In The Law of Peoples, John Rawls extends his theory of justice for domestic societies to the international realm. With this theory of international peace and stability, Rawls aims for a world without all the cruelties shown in history. The Law of Peoples is not meant as a full-fledged theory of justice, but more modestly, a guideline for the foreign policy of liberal peoples.

One guiding principle is that peoples, in order to become members of the collaborative organization The Society of liberal and decent peoples, have to honor human rights. Rawls’s notion of human rights in The Law of Peoples is controversial and much debated. Among other things, it is criticized for being too minimalistic with respect to what roles human rights play internationally and with respect to the number of rights that Rawls holds to be human rights.

Netland is going to enlighten one particular strand of the criticism of the list, namely the alleged problematic non-appearance of the right to democracy/political participation. The discussion will be based on pages 64-81 of The Law of Peoples.

We will serve a light breakfast - please sign up here

Earlier seminars in this series: 
Heiner Bielefeldt on Kant's "What is Enlightenment?"

Published Mar. 17, 2017 11:36 AM - Last modified Apr. 26, 2017 2:54 PM