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Must Human Rights Evolve or Die?

Human rights and today’s global liberal order were forged in the hot ashes of two world wars. But as the twenty-first century unfolds, our global paradigm evolves. Instead of old wars, we must reckon with our global environmental crisis, AI, and life- and ethics-changing science. Are yesterday’s solutions suitable for today‘s problems?

In a fascinating conversation, Scottish philosopher and Open Society fellow Jonathan Rowson will take us through the questions we must ask of human rights, of politics, and of ourselves in this century.

During his Open Society fellowship, Rowson is researching a book, provisionally titled Applied Philosophy in the Battle for Open Societies, that will situate human rights in a richer understanding of human nature and human experience. Human rights language, he says, can seem oblique or ineffectual because it often fails to convey how imbalances of power are subjectively experienced and how those experiences are culturally reinforced. The project will develop and disseminate a way of thinking and talking about the world that guides action more effectively, grounded in an understanding of the complex interplay of natural, psychological, and social systems.


  • Heather Grabbe


    Heather Grabbe is director of the Open Society European Policy Institute and director of EU affairs for the Open Society Foundations.

  • Jonathan Rowson


    Jonathan Rowson is the director and co-founder of Perspectiva, a new research institute working to integrate understanding of objective, experiential, and cultural elements of complex problems. 

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