Accessibility statement

Dr Esther Neuhann: Fichte on Human Rights

Wednesday 9 March 2022, 4.00PM to 5.30pm

Speaker(s): Dr Esther Neuhann, University of Hamburg

In the talk, I examine Fichte’s conception of human rights in the Foundations of Natural Right According to the Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre (1796/7).

First, I argue that the chapter on “original right” can be viewed as presenting a theory of human rights (presupposing that human rights are rights one has qua being human). This is not obvious for two reasons: Fichte doesn’t use the word “human right(s)” [Menschenrecht(e)] in those sections and he claims that there are “no original rights of human beings”.

Second, I will argue that the goal of human rights, for Fichte, is to enable right-holders to participate in a specific kind of non-violent intersubjective relation that he calls “free reciprocal efficacy” (freie Wechselwirkung). I will show this with respect to one of two substantive “original rights” Fichte puts forward, namely “the right to bodily inviolability”. For this purpose, it is crucial to appreciate Fichte’s understanding of the human body primarily as a medium of free action and interaction (Leib) rather than a biological organism (Körper).

Location: This event will take place on Zoom. Joining details will be made available nearer the time.

Admission: Departmental Colloquium members and postgraduate students