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The Ray Dotterer Lecture - Onora O'Neill

"Universal Rights and Bounded Authorities"

When Apr 27, 2018 from 03:30 PM to 05:30 PM

Where Assembly Room - Nittany Lion Inn

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Many current discussions of human rights dispute whether their justification is moral or political. Neither position is satisfactory. If human rights have no wider moral justification that speaks to all others, crossing the boundaries of states and other institutions, their claims to universal relevance will fail. But if human rights lack institutional authorisation that ties them to some bounded jurisdiction, they will be ineffective. Yet can human rights be both moral and political? I shall argue that they can be both, but that this will constrain their justification, their authority and their interpretation.

Ms. O'Neill won the Berggruen Prize in 2017, awarded to a thinker whose ideas "have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world," and offering a $1 million cash award. She also won Norway's Holberg Prize in 2017, and the International Kant Prize in 2015.

She is a member of the House of Lords, professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and former chair of Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission.