Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tasioulas on the Foundations of Human Rights

Professor John Tasioulas has posted a new paper at SSRN:

"On the Foundations of Human Rights"

This paper provides an account of the grounds of human rights, considered as moral rights possessed by all human beings simply in virtue of their humanity. It identifies two such grounds: a plurality of universal human interests and the value of human dignity (the intrinsic and non-derivative value of being a human being). It also offers an extended account of the 'threshold' at which considerations of universal interests and human dignity generate duties in the case of all human beings. The paper concludes by showing that this pluralistic view of the grounding of human nights is superior to both a needs-based and a personhood-based approach.

John Tasioulas is Yeoh Professor of Politics, Philosophy and Law at King's College London. 

More papers by John Tasioulas at

See also Samuel Moyn's critique of John Tasioulas's inaugural lecture at UCL in 2012 and Tasioulas's response here

Sunday, February 08, 2015

David Reidy on John Rawls's Democratic Vision

Professor David A. Reidy has posted a new paper at SSRN:

"Framing Rawls's Democratic Vision"

In this essay I draw from Rawls's archived papers to set out several too often under-appreciated elements of Rawls's distinctively democratic vision.
Many readers of Rawls’s published works assume that what most distinguishes his work is his substantive conception of justice. To be sure, it is in certain respects distinctive. But even some of its most distinctive elements – e.g., the difference principle, the lexical ordering of principles of justice and the idea of the basic structure as the first subject of justice – had been anticipated. Some readers find most distinctive the larger (and allegedly shifting) argumentative context of Rawls’s work, whether the universalist and metaphysically ambitious Kantian contractualist framework alleged to frame his early work or the historicist and arguably relativist Hegelian hermeneutic framework alleged to frame his later work. For those exploring Rawls’s archived unpublished papers, lecture notes and letters, what emerges as most distinctive is a consistently maintained set of methodological and meta-philosophical commitments constituting and framing a democratic vision. In this short essay, I briefly sketch a few of these.

David A. Reidy is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee. He is co-editor (with Martin Rex) of "Rawls's Law of Peoples: A Realistic Utopia?" (Blackwell, 2006), and co-editor (with Jon Mandle) of "A Companion to Rawls" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) and "The Cambridge Rawls Lexicon" (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

See also David A. Reidy's paper "From Philosophical Theology to Democratic Theory: Early Postcards from an Intellectual Journey".

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Habermas on "Democracy in Europe" - a new paper

Jürgen Habermas's lecture in Norway in September 2014 is now available as a working paper published by ARENA Centre for European Studies in Oslo:

"Democracy in Europe: Why the Development of the European Union into a Transnational Democracy is Necessary and How it is Possible


Can the process of European unification lead to a form of democracy that is at once supranational and situated above the organizational level of a state? The supranational federation should be constructed in such a way that the heterarchical relationship between the member states and the federation remains intact. The author finds the basis for such an order in the idea of the EU constituted by a “doubled” sovereign – the European citizens and the European peoples (the states). In order to sustain such an order reforms of the existing European treaties are needed. It is necessary to eliminate the legitimation deficits of the European Union in a future Euro-Union – that is, a more closely integrated core Europe. The European Parliament would have to gain the right to take legislative initiatives, and the so-called “ordinary legislative procedure,” which requires the approval of both chambers, would have to be extended to all policy fields.

A video of Jürgen Habermas's lecture is available here.

See my previous post on the event here.