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The Arduous Pursuit of Dignity for All Preserving Democracy and Human Rights in a World in Crisis


Apr 10 2024 to Apr 10 2024 6:30 p.m.



Bangalore International Centre

7 4th Main Rd, Stage 2, Domlur 560071

Event Description

This talk draws from Matthias Mahlmann’s recent critically acclaimed book, Mind and Rights: The history, law and psychology of Human Rights published in open access mode by Cambridge University Press in February 2023. The talk critically examines the growth of the concept of human rights, its roots in history and current human rights theories. It scrutinizes in particular the myth of the Western origin of the idea of human rights by highlighting the many roots of human rights in different cultures, including within the Global South and indigenous cultures. A particular goal of the talk is to engage with the so-called cognitive revolution and to investigate the relationship between human cognition and human rights. The talk will argue that insights gained from modern theories of the mind can deepen our understanding of the foundation of human rights. The talk also seeks to answer the question whether the current attacks on democracy can be countered through the use of human rights and its underlying political ethics of egalitarian dignity. Finally, the talk will contend that the pursuit of the human rights idea, with its achievements and tragic failures, is key to understanding what kind of beings humans are. Such self-knowledge is crucial in times in which the human species has put its own survival at risk. A conversation between the author, Matthias Mahlmann, and the discussant, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, will be followed by a moderated Q&A session with the audience. In collaboration with: Speakers Matthias Mahlmann Professor & Author Matthias Mahlmann is University Professor, and Chair of Philosophy and Theory of Law, Legal Sociology and International Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Zurich, Switzerland. He completed his studies at Freiburg, Berlin and the London School of Economics. He has held a number of Visiting Professorship positions including at the Central European University, Budapest, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Georgetown University Law Centre, Washington DC, University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Philadelphia; German-Turkish University, Istanbul, and was a Visiting Researcher, Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Oxford University and Fellow of Mansfield College. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the National Law School, Bangalore. Sudhir Krishnaswamy Vice Chancellor of National Law School of India University, Bengaluru Sudhir Krishnaswamy is the Vice Chancellor of National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. Previously, he was the Director of the School of Policy and Governance, and Professor of Law and Politics at Azim Premji University. He is a recipient of the Infosys Prize 2022 in the Humanities category. He has earlier served as the Dr. BR Ambedkar Visting Professor on Indian Constitutional law at Columbia Law School, and is currently a Member of the Independent Oversight Board that makes content moderation decisions on Facebook and Instagram platforms. He is teaching a course on Legal Theory to postgraduate law students at NLS Bengaluru in the ongoing term.

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