Expanding the scope of human rights
Suzy Killmister (Monash University), Suzy Killmister (Monash University)

September 15, 2022, 4:15pm - 6:15pm
Philosophy discipline, Melbourne University

North Theatre, Old Arts
The University of Melbourne
Melbourne
Australia

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University of Melbourne

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It is sometimes suggested that human rights ought to be extended beyond the species boundary within which they currently operate. In other words, some non-humans – be it non-human animals such as great apes, or forms of artificial intelligence – ought to be afforded the protections of our practice of human rights. While such suggestions are typically motivated by a belief that these non-human beings (would) have the same inherent rights as us, and that human rights practice ought to mirror that fact, this paper comes at the issue from a different angle. That is, setting aside the question of who has what inherent rights, I consider the potential effects of such an expansion on the category of the human itself.  I start by positing the existence of the human as a social kind, over and above the natural kind Homo sapiens, and explaining the tight connection between this kind and human rights practice. I then explore whether and how expanding the scope of the practice might alter both the boundaries of the human, and what it means to be human.

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