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60 College Ave, Annapolis, MD 21401

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Peter Danchin: Who is the ‘Human’ in Human Rights? The Claims of Culture and Religion

Modern critiques of human rights law force us to confront two conceptual puzzles in the area of the claims of culture and religion. The first concerns the twin concepts, often run together, of the secular and freedom, and the question of how rights - e.g. the right to freedom of conscience and religion - mediate between these purportedly universal or objective positions and the imagined subjective claims of particular religious or cultural norms.

The second concerns the question of what we mean by “human equality” and how this idea relates to deeply-situated issues of collective identity and culture. Such claims raise complex and difficult conflicts between equality norms on the one hand, and religious and cultural freedom norms on the other. In this lecture, it is argued that a value pluralist approach to such questions opens the possibility of less dogmatic and binary accounts of reason and religion in viewing both as human institutions and social practices requiring modes of justification and accountability. In order for this to occur, however, the primary obstacle is the inability of Western rights theorists to see their culture as one amongst others.

Graduate Institute Summer Lectures are held live across both campuses and also live-streamed.

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  • Robert Keith Thomas

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