Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies

5 | THE DIVERSITY OF HUMAN RIGHTS: Human Rights, Human Dignity and Violence

06 Sep 2008 - 13 Sep 2008
Course directors:
Bernd Ladwig, Free University of Berlin, Germany
Georg Lohmann, University of Magdeburg, Germany
Ana Matan, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Kristijan Posavec, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Croatia
Course description:
The annual course concerns several problems of human rights discourses. The participants come from different nations and bring in different disciplinary competences relevant for human rights theory and practice: The Course aims at an interdisciplinary debate between philosophy, jurisprudence, and political science, confronting them also with the insights and experiences of human rights activists from the region. The topic of next years course will be Human rights, human dignity, and violence. It addresses crucial tensions regarding the concept of human rights, their relation to conflicting normative considerations, and pragmatic problems of their realization. A paradigm case in which all these aspects are present is addressed in a current German debate: Can it be allowed to shoot down an airplane filed with innocent passengers when there is strong evidence that it will be used as a weapon as in 9/11? The German High Court of Justice holds that a military destruction of the airplane would reduce the passengers to mere means and thereby violate their human dignity. Consequently, it is ruled out by the German constitution. The German Minister of Defence, however, argues that the state has an obligation to save the lives of as many people as possible in cases in which almost certainly some people will die. What is more, he argues, terrorist attacks are targeted against the political order as such and therefore should be treated alike military aggressions. And in wartime, the general ban on killing innocent people, at least as a collateral damage, is obviously relaxed. The debate might illustrate the pressing theoretical and problems we want to address in next years course: - What exactly is meant by human dignity? What is the conceptual relation between human dignity and human rights? And which normative role does the first concept play regarding the second? - Does dignity play a different role in morality, in law, and in politics, respectively? Is it a concept we should try to clarify at all? Or should we take it simply as a political symbol, e.g. expressing our dissociation from the Nazi system and our determination never to fall back in barbarism? - Can it be allowed or even required to weight the life and dignity of those persons potentially to be killed against the life and dignity of those potentially rescued? Or is any such attempt incompatible with human dignity? And once again, do morality and law differ in that respect, and should there be any room for political debate and decision? - Taken more generally, realizing human rights under non-ideal conditions always requires delicate consequentialist calculations. Does human dignity serve as an invisible No Trespassingsign limiting those calculations? And where exactly do we have to draw the line? - Which forms of violence should count as violations of human dignity? Are there actions that in and by themselves violate human dignity, e.g. torture? And given that torture is always incompatible with respecting human dignity, why not also targeted killing of suspects in an emergency? - Are the exemptions usually made regarding wartime morally justifiable? And how can we distinguish between an aggression threatening a public order as such and an aggression that should count as a criminal act below that line? Is such a distinction morally relevant, and if so, why? The course will give room for the presentation of papers as well as for workshops especially designed to give students and young researchers the opportunity to present projects. Each director will invite excellent students to participate in the course. The language is English. Lectures (invited): Prof. Dr. Christoph Horn, Universitt Bonn (zugesagt) Prof. Dr. Stefan Huster, Universitt Bochum (zugesagt) Prof. Dr. Heiner Klemme, Universitt Wuppertal (noch offen) Prof. Dr. Peter Schaber, Zrich (zugesagt) Prof. Dr. Ralf Stoeker Potsdam (zugesagt) Prof. Dr. Anne Peters, Basel (zugesagt) Prof. Dr. Christine Chwaszcza, Florenz (noch offen) Prof. Dr. Bernd Ladwig, Freie Universitt Berlin Prof. Dr. Georg Lohmann, Otto-von-Guericke-Universitt Magdeburg Dr. Ana Matan, Universitt Zagreb, Croatia Prof. Dr. Zvonko Posavec, Universitt Zagreb please check or tell us the new members (Prof. dr. sc. Nikica Petkovi, Philosohy Faculty , Univerty Rijeka Prof. dr. sc. Zoran Kureli, Univerity of Zagreb Doc. dr. Djordje Pavicevic, Univerity of Belgrade Mr. sc. Enes Kulenovic, Univerity of Zagreb) Wiss. Mitarbeiter: Dr. Corina Mieth, Bonn Dr. Arnd Pollmann, Magdeburg Dr. Thomas Hoffmann, Magdeburg Weitere Teilnehmer/innen: Vera Naegeli, Basel: