Cosmopolitan Rights and Responsibilities Conference

The tri-campus Research Cluster on Human Interactions and Normative Innovation (HI-NORM) held an international conference this May 11th and 12th titled "Cosmopolitan Rights and Responsibilities." The two day conference had two sessions each day which covered topics such as: "Cosmopolitan Encounters, Are There Cosmopolitan Responsibilities?", "How Should We Understand Cosmopolitan Responsibility?" and "Cosmopolitan Responsibility: Global Answer to Global Problems". Each day was capped off with a keynote address that was free and open to the public.

The first day's keynote address, "Global Governance and Human Rights," was presented by Professor Cristina Lafont of Northwestern University. Prof. Lafont discussed how, under current conditions of globalization, it is becoming increasingly difficult to answer the question of who has which human rights obligations towards whom. In light of these difficulties, the recent articulation of an alternative approach to the traditional conception of human rights as natural rights constitutes an interesting development in the philosophical discussion on human rights. Whereas the traditional approach attempts to ground human rights on some authoritative account of human nature or human freedom, the "political" or "practical" approach takes contemporary human rights practice as being authoritative for an understanding of what human rights are.

The second day's keynote address, which was given by Professor Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, Germany, was titled, "Cosmopolitan Responsibility: Reflections on a New Paradigm of Political Ethics." Prof. Lutz-Bachmann discussed how in most of the long tradition of moral and political philosophy, the concept of responsibility was neither prominent nor fundamental. It has become important in the deep political and cultural crises of the 20th century. Prof. Lutz-Bachmann discussed a more precise concept of responsibility for political and moral philosophy and argued in favor of "Cosmopolitan Responsibility" and its significance for politics in a globalized world.

The conference was made possible by many co-sponsors on campus including: tri-campus Human Interactions and Normative Innovation Research Cluster, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at UW-Tacoma, the Program on Values in Society, the UW office of Global Affairs, the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Germanics, the Law, Societies, and Justice Program, and the UW Center for Human Rights.

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