The event, which looked at developing a more responsive state, asked are we putting too much emphasis on ‘rights’ when we discuss or legislate on human rights?
Guest speaker Professor Martha Albertson Fineman explained how her ‘universal vulnerability’ theory could frame arguments to rebut neoliberal emphasis on personal responsibility and individual liberty.
Professor Fineman believes we are; and argues that we should look more closely at the ‘human’ aspects of human rights. Human rights legislation, she asserts, divides communities, by labelling some as ‘protected’ under the law and the rest as ‘unprotected’. This division results in tensions not just between the ‘protected’ and ‘unprotected’, but among the ‘protected’ themselves, for ever-decreasing resources.
Her concept of ‘universal vulnerability’ is attracting interest in both America and Europe. This states that we should conceive ‘vulnerability’ as a natural state within the human being. While our vulnerability is more apparent at different times and ages over the life-course, it is a constant and defining characteristic of the human condition. As such, human vulnerability and the need it generates to build resilience within social institutions and relationships should constitute the basis of a more responsive and equitable state.
At this seminar she explained how her ‘universal vulnerability’ theory could frame arguments to rebut neoliberal emphasis on personal responsibility and individual liberty.
There were then three five-minute responses, one each from:
- Disabled People’s Independent Living Movement in Scotland
- Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research at the University of Glasgow
- Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services
This was followed by an open discussion.
Date: 10 September 2015
Location: Boyd Orr Building, University of Glasgow