CAL Seminar - Universal Human Rights: A Basis for Political Legitimacy

Monday, May 6, 2013 ( 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm )

Location: Morton 324, Stevens Institute of Technology


Universal Human Rights: A Basis for Political Legitimacy

By Craig Titus
PhD Candidate, Purdue University

Human rights are likely the most significant development in political theory in at least the last 100 years (if not ever). They have motivated the fight for racial equality in the US, for women’s rights in the Middle East and Africa, and worker’s rights in China, all with a power and a success rate greater than any other political or ethical concept. And yet, even today, the basic meaning of human rights remains contentious. People have not agreed on exactly what human rights are, what grounds their validity, and what the list of specific human rights ought to contain. In his lecture, Titus argues that the concept of human rights ought to be reconfigured to what they actually are: creations of the United Nations, rather than creations of Nature. This reconfiguration both rescues the concept of human rights from the theoretical confusions it suffers from and also repositions human rights as a significant and central force in ethical, political, and international relations discourse.

Craig Titus holds a B.A. in English from Rowan University, an M.A. in English from The University of Maine, and will be defending his dissertation at Purdue University this summer. His research has focused on the problems of human rights and the role such rights ought to play in the policy decisions of the world’s governments. He also works on the philosophical concept of engineering ethics, including the way ethics shapes the everyday decisions—even the technical decisions—of the practicing engineer.