CFP: Recasting Human Rights Without a Shadow - MANCEPT Workshop

Submission deadline: September 7, 2022

Conference date(s):
September 7, 2022 - September 9, 2022

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT), University of Manchester
Manchester, United Kingdom

Topic areas


*Deadline for Abstract Submissions Extended to 13th June*

Human rights are often pitched as a panacea. They seem to both secure widespread agreement and guarantee a theoretical basis for the condemnation of the worst atrocities committed by humans. Yet for each of their rewards, there is often an attendant “dark side” to be reckoned with. For instance, challenges based on inclusivity (excluding animals, some humans, and perhaps AI), inflation (being over-extended), determinacy (providing vague or under-specified imperatives), equality (some have it, while others don’t), claimability (lacking clear duty-bearers), and institutionalisation (lacking practical protection), among various others. In this panel, we intend to address this dark side, and reimagine what human rights without a shadow would look like.

Recasting human rights is a twofold task. Firstly, it requires a deep understanding of the range of disputes that human rights are faced with, including but not limited to those mentioned above. Second, reimagining human rights requires responding to these issues in novel ways that nonetheless retain the core meanings and functions of those rights. For instance, in responding to challenges of inclusivity, theorists might extend the scope of human rights, but at the danger of diluting the protections they already provide. Alternatively, we might argue for the possibility of new rights that better address the above considerations, but at the risk of alienating international law and making the institutionalisation of those rights harder to achieve. Contemporary philosophers attempting to reimagine human rights are therefore often committed to being revisionary, but without over-turning human rights practice entirely — yet perhaps a more transformative approach is needed.

We are interested in receiving abstracts on the above topic, responding to questions related but not limited to the following:

  • Have contemporary challenges to human rights been adequately addressed? What challenges retain their force?
  • What is the core purpose of human rights? Does the way we think about the purpose fundamentally alter the impact of the above challenges?
  • How are the above challenges interrelated? Do they share a common problem and thus a common solution?
  • How can we reimagine human rights in ways that overcome their challenges?
  • Does responding to these challenges require rethinking the very meaning and purpose of human rights as understood in international law? If so, how can human rights be subsequently institutionalised?
  • Can a plausible conception of human rights include non-human animals?
  • How might the advent of AI affect our understanding of human rights?
  • What political and social institutions are required in order to achieve the demands enshrined by human rights?
  • Should human rights be minimal in their prescriptions to avoid over-inflation? Or are human rights by their very nature extensive and demanding imperatives?
  • More broadly, how should we think about human rights differently?

Confirmed Speakers: Joseph Bowen (Stockholm University), Raffael Fasel (University of Cambridge), Suzy Killmister (Monash University), Jesse Tomalty (University of Bergen), Guglielmo Verdirame (King’s College London) and Ariel Zylberman (SUNY, University at Albany)

Abstract submission

Contributions from political theorists, ethicists, philosophers and human rights practitioners are all welcome. If you would like to present a paper at this workshop, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to [email protected] and/or [email protected] by 13st June 2022. The abstract should be prepared for blind review, but please include your name and affiliation in the email. 


Speakers will have 50 minutes each (20-25 minutes for presentation, 25-30 minutes for discussion). The workshop will be in person, at The University of Manchester, but we welcome submissions from individuals broadcasting in for a hybrid format. If you would like to attend in this capacity, please inform us on application. Registration for the workshops will open in May. MANCEPT will offer a small number of fee waiver bursaries. The deadline for bursary applications (available to current graduate students only) will be the 27th June 2022.

For more info please see the link below.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)