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The Human Rights Idea in the Philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment

By 24th September 2019 No Comments


In this fascinating lecture, Dr Bertrand Ramcharan, former Acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will examine the role of  Scottish Enlightenment thought in shaping contemporary human rights ideas.  The lecture will look at Scottish Enlightenment ideas in the intellectual and policy streams leading up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, focussing particularly on the ideas of Professor Gershom Carmichael, a pioneering Professor of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow who elaborated a detailed code of human rights grounded in natural law theory.

The lecture will also acknowledge the humanistic and justice-oriented writings of other great Scottish Enlightenment Philosophers like David Hume and Adam Smith, although it will not go into their personal stances on contemporary controversies, such as the abolition of slavery.  Dr Ramcharan will, however, welcome reflections on contemporary challenges to the universality of human rights, including from major powers.

Dr Ramcharan’s lecture will be followed by a Q&A, ending at 7pm.  The event will be followed by a drinks reception.

This public lecture is being held jointly by the RSE, the Council for At-Risk Academics, and the Young Academy of Scotland.

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Event Details

Date & Time
Monday 18 November 2019
6:00pm – 7:00pm

The Royal Society of Edinburgh
22-26 George Street