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Are human rights too human-centric?

Melbourne, 31 May 2016

Frédéric Mégret

on 10 November 2016

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Transcript of Are human rights too human-centric?

Are human rights too human-centric?
Reimagining Rights
The Invisibility of anthropocentrism
Thinking (in)compatibility
The problem with human rights
Human rights as an ideology of emancipation of humans from the "powers that be"... but also from nature
Symbolic exchanges
Similarities in trajectories?
How much of a critique of human rights are animal/nature rights?
"Rights" provide the blueprint
Humans are not animals and therefore have rights
Animals are in some respect like humans
“… if in the future we should discover that man differs from other animals only in degree, the line that divides the realm of persons from the realm of things would be rubbed out, and with its disappearance would go the basis in fact for a principled policy of treating men differently from the way in which we now treat other animals… Other practical consequences would then follow. Those who now oppose injurious discrimination on the moral ground that all human beings, being equal in their humanity, should be treated equally in all those respects that concern their common humanity, would have no solid basis in fact to support their normative principle. A social and political ideal that has operated with revolutionary force in human history could be validly dismissed as a hollow illusion that should become defunct.

Mortimer Adler, The Difference of Man and the Difference it Makes (2009)
Sacrificing rights?
Reconstructing rights
“so far as animals are concerned, we have no direct duties. Animals… are there merely as a means to an end. That end is man.”
“the earth and all that is therein is given to men for the support and comfort of their being (…) being given for the use of men, there must of necessity be a means to appropriate them some way or other before they can be of any use or at all beneficial to any particular man. (...) though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person; (…) the labor of (the wild Indian’s) body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature has provided and left it in, he has mixed his labor with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.”
The "right to a clean" environment and the endless reproduction of human rights' modernist move
Ecocentric limitations to rights
"Human duties"
Human dignitas
Arne Naess in 1973, fifth proposition of deep ecology :

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of non-human life requires such a decrease.

Epistemologies of the South
Inter-cultural dialogue
Boaventura de Sousa Santos:
"Is the conception of nature as separate from society, so entrenched in Western society, tenable in the long run? ... The answer that Western thought gives to this question is weak because it only recognizes the problems that can be discussed within the Cartesian epistemological and ontoogical model."
Full transcript