February 27, 2024How much universality do universal human rights need?

Public Lecture by Andreas Niederberger (University Duisburg-Essen)

University of New Brunswick, Department of Philosophy, Fredericton

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

04:00 PM - 05:30 PM

Toole Hall Room 03


Universality is considered an essential characteristic of human rights. But how exactly should we understand this characteristic? And which are its implications for the theory or philosophy of human rights: must it itself be universalistic and, if so, in what sense?

This lecture takes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as its starting point and distinguishes between two dimensions of the universality of human rights: their validity everywhere and their applicability to all human beings. It first examines some philosophical approaches that argue that universal validity does not necessarily require a universalist theory to justify it. Against this background, it then considers the majority of views in the philosophical human rights debate that claim that an adequate understanding and explanation of the universal validity of human rights and, more generally, of the idea and function of human rights requires their justification by a universalist theory. However, the analysis of these arguments shows that their aim to justify the need for a universalist foundation of human rights is often based on additional assumptions about the role of rights, which in turn require justification. In conclusion, this lecture argues that the supposed opposition between universalism and relativism in the field of human rights, which has been at the center of political debates in recent decades, can be better discussed if the universality of human rights is not tied to their justification in a universalist theory.

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Oktober 27, 2023The State. On the Nature and Norms of the Modern Polity

Poster The State

Workshop with Philip Pettit (Princeton & ANU)

University Hamburg

VMP9, A215-16

with: Hong Do (Central European University), Dorothea Gädeke (Utrecht), Tamara Jugov (Dresden), Bruno Leipold (The New Institute), Andreas Niederberger (Essen)

Book-Publication August 3, 2023Cosmopolitan Norms and European Values. Ethical Perspectives on Europe's Refugee Policy

Cosmopolitan Norms and European Values Cover

Ed. by Marie Göbel und Andreas Niederberger

This volume offers a systematic philosophical analysis of the normative challenges facing European refugee policy, focusing on whether the response to it can be based on European values. By considering the refugee policy through the lens of European values, cosmopolitan norms and universal human rights, the contributions expose the weaknesses and limitations of existing regulations and make proposals on how to improve them.

The EU is often seen as a cosmopolitan project. Europe is supposed to be a community of states that aspires to be guided by cosmopolitan norms. However, the idea of a cosmopolitan Europe has never been unanimously shared, and in recent years, it has come under increasing scrutiny, particularly with regard to the EU’s refugee policy. The guiding idea of this book is that a deeper philosophical understanding of the normative issues at stake can foster greater conceptual clarity and enrich political debates on the future of European refugee policy. The first part of the book revolves around the question of whether the rise in refugee numbers over the past decade has led to a crisis in the EU and, if so, how this crisis relates to or impacts European values. The second part traces the history of the discourse on “European values” and examines from a philosophical perspective how we can plausibly understand these values in terms of their moral grammar, their normative content and their implications for the behaviour of the EU and its member states. Finally, the third part puts forth recommendations for a feasible and normatively more compelling European refugee policy based on human rights, human dignity, justice and democratic self-determination as the decisive normative requirements.

Cosmopolitan Norms and European Values: Ethical Perspectives on Europe’s Refugee Policy will be of interest to researchers and advanced students working in ethics, political philosophy, political science, social sciences and law.


The Open Access version of this book, available at www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

September 12-13, 2023Flucht und Migration. Herausforderungen für Religionen und (post)säkulare Gesellschaften

BHC Flucht und Migration Flyer Cover

Bad Homburg Conferences: Impulse, Reflexionen, Wissenschaft im Dialog.

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