Expanding the scope of human rightsSuzy Killmister (Monash University), Suzy Killmister (Monash University)
North Theatre, Old Arts
The University of Melbourne
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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