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GlobalPolitics: Pablo Gilabert

August 28, 2013 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

We cordially invite you to the first Center for Global Ethics and Politics event of the 2013-2014 academic year.

On Wednesday, August 28, we will be hosting Pablo Gilabert (Philosophy, Concordia University). Prof. Gilabert will be leading a workshop on his current research, discussing a paper entitled “Human Rights, Human Dignity, and Power,” to be followed by a reception. The abstract to his paper is included below. This will be the final event of our generative and interesting partnership with the Mellon-Sawyer Seminar Series, which is itself coming to a close.

We are excited to open this academic year with this fascinating discussion with a distinguished scholar, and hope you will be able to join us. The workshop will be held at 1:00 pm in the Political Science Thesis Room (Room 5200, then enter the first door on your right) of The Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10016).

There is no RSVP required, however if you would like to receive Prof. Gilabert’s paper in advance of the workshop, please contact John McMahon at jmcmahon@gc.cuny.edu.

We hope to see you there, and be on the outlook for the exciting schedule of events CGEP has planned for this academic year!


This paper explores the connections between human rights, human dignity, and power. The idea of human dignity is omnipresent in human rights discourse, but its meaning and point is not always clear. It is standardly used in two ways, to refer to (a) a normative status of persons that makes their treatment in terms of human rights a proper response, and (b) a social condition of persons in which their human rights are fulfilled. This paper pursues three tasks. First, it provides an analysis of the content and an interpretation of the role of the idea of human dignity in current human rights discourse. The interpretation includes a pluralist view of human interests and dignity that avoids a narrow focus on rational agency. Second, this paper characterizes the two aspects of human dignity in terms of capabilities. Certain general human capabilities are among the facts that ground status-dignity, and the presence of certain more specific capabilities constitutes condition-dignity. Finally, this paper explores how the pursuit of human rights and human dignity links to distributions and uses of power. Since capabilities are a form of power, and human rights are in part aimed at respecting and promoting capabilities, human rights involve empowerment. Exploring the connections between human rights, capabilities, and empowerment provides resources to defend controversial human rights such as the right to democratic political participation, and to respond to worries about the feasibility of their fulfillment. This paper also argues that empowerment must be coupled with solidaristic concern in order to respond to unavoidable facts of social dependency and vulnerability.


A native of Argentina, Pablo Gilabert is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada). His areas of specialization are ethics and social and political philosophy. Within these areas, he is currently doing research on social justice, human rights, and the role of the concept of feasibility in moral and political reasoning (including the consequences for the relation between “ideal” and “nonideal theory”). His research and teaching interests also include global justice, distributive justice, democratic theory, contractualist theories in normative ethics, the Frankfurt School tradition of critical theory, Kant’s practical philosophy, Marxism and socialism, and the history of moral and political philosophy.

He has been an HLA Hart Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford, a DAAD Fellow at the University of Frankfurt, a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, and a Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow in the Center for Human Values at Princeton University.

His research has also been supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture.

His papers appeared in numerous journals, including, among others, The Journal of Political Philosophy, Political Theory, The Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, Kant-Studien, The Monist, Social Theory and Practice, and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. He is the author of From Global Poverty to Global Equality. A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).


August 28, 2013
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Event Categories:


Political Science Thesis Room (Room 5200, then enter the first door on your right)

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