Sunday, January 26, 2014

Amartya Sen on "Poverty and the Tolerance of the Intolerable"

On January 22, 2014, Professor Amartya Sen gave a lecture on poverty at the London School of Economics:

"Poverty and the Tolerance of the Intolerable".

A podcast is available here (85 minutes).

The event was organized by Prospect Magazine and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Amartya Sen is the Lamont University Professor at Harvard University. He is the author of "The Idea of Justice" (Harvard University Press, 2009)  and co-author (with Jean Drèze) of "An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions" (Princeton University Press, 2013).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Book: "Kantian Theory and Human Rights"

Kantian Theory and Human Rights

Ed. by Andreas Føllesdal & Reidar Maliks

(Routledge, 2014)

210 pages


Human rights and the courts and tribunals that protect them are increasingly part of our moral, legal, and political circumstances. The growing salience of human rights has recently brought the question of their philosophical foundation to the foreground. Theorists of human rights often assume that their ideal can be traced to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and his view of humans as ends in themselves. Yet, few have attempted to explore exactly how human rights should be understood in a Kantian framework. The scholars in this book have gathered to fill this gap. At the center of Kant’s theory of rights is a view of freedom as independence from domination. The chapters explore the significance of this theory for the nature of human rights, their justification, and the legitimacy of international human rights courts.

Contents [pre-view]

Foreword - Thomas Pogge

1. Kantian Theory and Human Rights - Andreas Føllesdal & Reidar Maliks
2. Kantian Underpinnings for a Theory of Multirights - Howard Williams
3. Kant’s Juridical Idea of Human Rights - Ariel Zylberman
4. Human Rights Jurisprudence Seen Through the Framework of Kant’s Legal Metaphors - Sofie Møller
5. A Kantian Defense of the Right to Health Care [draft] - Luke J. Davies
6. Human Rights Duties are Collective Duties of Justice - Özlem Ayse Özgür
7. The Democratic Paradox of International Human Rights Courts: A Kantian Solution? - Svenja Ahlhaus
8. Extraordinary Politics and the Democratic Legitimacy of International Human Rights Courts - Markus Patberg
9. Kantian Courts: On the Legitimacy of International Human Rights Courts - Reidar Maliks
10. Why Kant is not a Democratic Peace Theorist - Aviva Shiller
11. Kant, Human Rights, and Courts [word] - Andreas Føllesdal

The book is based on papers presented at a conference on "Kantian Theory and International Human Rights Courts", August 2012, at the University of Oslo.

Several papers by Andreas Føllesdal are available here.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Book: "Being Realistic about Reasons" by T.M. Scanlon

Being Realistic about Reasons

by T. M. Scanlon

(Oxford University Press, 2014)

144 pages


T. M. Scanlon offers a qualified defense of normative cognitivism — the view that there are irreducibly normative truths about reasons for action. He responds to three familiar objections: that such truths would have troubling metaphysical implications; that we would have no way of knowing what they are; and that the role of reasons in motivating and explaining action could not be explained if accepting a conclusion about reasons for action were a kind of belief. Scanlon answers the first of these objections within a general account of ontological commitment, applying to mathematics as well as normative judgments. He argues that the method of reflective equilibrium, properly understood, provides an adequate account of how we come to know both normative truths and mathematical truths, and that the idea of a rational agent explains the link between an agent's normative beliefs and his or her actions. Whether every statement about reasons for action has a determinate truth value is a question to be answered by an overall account of reasons for action, in normative terms. Since it seems unlikely that there is such an account, the defense of normative cognitivism offered here is qualified: statements about reasons for action can have determinate truth values, but it is not clear that all of them do. Along the way, Scanlon offers an interpretation of the distinction between normative and non-normative claims, a new account of the supervenience of the normative on the non-normative, an interpretation of the idea of the relative strength of reasons, and a defense of the method of reflective equilibrium.


1. Introduction: Reasons Fundamentalism
2. Metaphysical Objections
3. Motivation and the Appeal of Expressivism
4. Epistemology and Determinateness
5. Reasons and their Strength

The book is based on Scanlon's Locke Lectures, held at Oxford University in 2009. You can hear / read the lectures here:

Lecture 1. Introduction (MP3) / (Text - PDF)
Lecture 2. Normativity and Metaphysics (MP3) / (Text - PDF)
Lecture 3. Motivation and the Appeal of Expressivism (MP3) / (Text - PDF)
Lecture 4. Epistemological Problems (MP3) / (Text - PDF)
Lecture 5. Normative Structure (MP3) / (Text - PDF)

T. M. Scanlon is the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity at Harvard University. Among his books are "What We Owe to Each Other" (Harvard University Press, 1998) and "The Difficulty of Tolerance" (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Habermas lecture at Northwestern May 2

An international conference on "Critical Theory in Critical Times" will be held at Northwestern University, Evanston, on May 2-4, 2014.

Keynote address by Jürgen Habermas: "The Troubled Future of Democracy - Inside and Outside Europe".

Among the speakers are Seyla Benhabib, Rainer Forst, Thomas McCarthy, and Chrisoph Menke.

See the conference program here.

See photos from the event here.