In this talk series several prominent and early career scholars consider the recent phenomenon whereby courts and legislatures are asked to grant fundamental rights to non-human entities, such as animals, nature, and artificial intelligences (‘AI’).
The speakers consider the theoretical foundations of this phenomenon. Is it an assault on the centrality of the human or merely a way to use the common legal tool of fundamental rights to protect entities which some humans value? Are there any faults in this phenomenon? A prominent branch of critical theory scholarship, for example, has long been sceptical about the desirability of fundamental rights being used to bring about social justice. Is this branch of scholarship correct? Do we need something other than fundamental rights for a more just world for non-humans? Finally, they consider whether this phenomenon has a future. Is it merely a fad, likely to fade away as it encounters resistance, or will this phenomenon redefine the very notion of what is a fundamental right and who is entitled to it?
There are four main papers, respectively by Jeff Sebo, Patricia Wiater-Hellgardt, John Adenitire, and Raffael Fasel. A response to each of these papers is provided respectively by Malgosia Fitzmaurice, Visa Kurki, Macarena Montes Franceschine, and Joshua Gellers. The titles and abstract of the main papers are as follows.