Symposium on the Themes from Rowan Cruft’s Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual

October 23, 2017
University of Stirling

Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
United Kingdom

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


All speakers:

Rowan Cruft
University of Stirling
Tom Dougherty
Cambridge University
Katrin Flikschuh
London School of Economics
Zofia Stemplowska
Oxford University
Victor Tadros
University of Warwick


Joseph Bowen
University of St Andrews

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On Monday 23rd October, there will be a symposium on the themes from Rowan Cruft’s forthcoming Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual (OUP), to be held at the University of Stirling. Confirmed speakers are Tom Dougherty (Cambridge), Katrin Flikschuh (LSE), Zofia Stemplowska (Oxford), Victor Tadros (Warwick), and Rowan Cruft (Stirling).

The conference is free to attend, though places are limited so please register interest with me (j[email protected]). Sections of Cruft’s manuscript will be made available to registered attendees.

We plan to offer three £100 travel/accommodation bursaries for graduate students (more details below). Childcare facilities will be provided (please get in touch as early as possible). For financial support, we would like to thank the University of Stirling, Scots Philosophical Association, Society for Applied Philosophy, and Mind Association. 

Symposium Description. There is a growing literature on the philosophy of human rights that rarely engages with earlier work on the nature of rights, or on property’s canonical place in the history of rights theory. This symposium brings together legal, moral, and political philosophers to consider these issues in relation to Rowan Cruft’s forthcoming book.

Here is a brief summary of Cruft’s book: “Human Rights, Ownership, and the Individual starts by arguing that the concept of a right is, in a sense, dispensable: we could run society much as we know it using only the concept of a duty, without thinking in terms of rights. Given this, the book asks what the rights concept adds to our thinking and whether this is justifiable. It defends the idea that certain duties—those whose existence depends simply on a given individual’s good—‘naturally’ take the form of rights, and it examines contemporary human rights theory and practice in light of this account of ‘natural’ rights. It goes on to explore the justifications for rights that primarily serve parties beyond the right-holder, and while it defends many common-good-grounded legal and conventional rights that protect the right-holder in her performance of her duties of office, it is critical of the use of the rights concept in relation to property. Because many property rights do not protect the right-holder’s fulfilment of duties that serve others, property rights can appear more like ‘natural’ or fundamental rights grounded by what they do for the right-holder. But, Cruft argues, this appearance is misleading, given property's ground in the common good.”

Graduate Bursaries. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please email me your CV, with a few lines on how the symposium will help your research, by the 14th August. Graduate students are also encouraged to apply to the Society for Applied Philosophy’s Postgraduate Travel Funding.

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October 2, 2017, 7:45pm BST

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