The History and Philosophy of Social Rights

December 15, 2022

This event is online


Rice University
University of British Columbia
University of Warwick
University of Bergen


University of St. Thomas, Texas
University of Warwick

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The History and Philosophy of Social Rights

You are kindly invited to the book launch of:

Brownlee, K., Jenkins, D. and Neal, A. (eds) (2022). Being Social: The Philosophy of Social Human Rights. Oxford University Press.


Jensen, L. B., Walton, C. (eds) (2022). Social Rights and the Politics of Obligation in History. Cambridge University Press.

When: Thursday December 15, 2022, 3:00pm (GMT)

: Online


3.00pm (GMT) – 3.20pm – Introduction and overview of the volumes

3.20pm – 4.00pm – Justifications for social rights – Henry Shue and Mark Goodale

4.00pm – 4.40pm – Social rights and work – Nicolas Delalande and Jesse Tomalty

4.40pm – 4.50pm – break

4.50pm – 5.30pm – Social rights and gender – Elizabeth Brake and Laura Frader

5.30pm – 6.00pm – Final comments by Sam Moyn and discussion

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More information here: 

Being Social: The Philosophy of Social Human Rights

Human rights capture what people need to live minimally decent lives. Recognised dimensions of this minimum include physical security, due process, political participation, and freedom of movement, speech, and belief, as well as – more controversially for some – subsistence, shelter, health, education, culture, and community. Far less attention has been paid to the interpersonal, social dimensions of a minimally decent life, including our basic needs for decent human contact and acknowledgement, for interaction and adequate social inclusion, and for relationship, intimacy, and shared ways of living, as well as our competing interests in solitude and associative freedom.

Social Rights and the Politics of Obligation in History

This pioneering volume explores the long-neglected history of social rights, from the Middle Ages to the present. It debunks the myth that social rights are ‘second-generation rights’ – rights that appeared after World War II as additions to a rights corpus stretching back to the Enlightenment. Not only do social rights stretch back that far; they arguably pre-date the Enlightenment. In tracing their long history across various global contexts, this volume reveals how debates over social rights have often turned on deeper struggles over social obligation – over determining who owes what to whom, morally and legally. In the modern period, these struggles have been intertwined with questions of freedom, democracy, equality and dignity. Many factors have shaped the history of social rights, from class, gender and race to religion, empire and capitalism. With incomparable chronological depth, geographical breadth and conceptual nuance, Social Rights and the Politics of Obligation in History sets an agenda for future histories of human rights.

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