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Dr. Jared Diamond on the Future of Human Rights
Science + Democracy | July 05, 2011

Dr. Jared Diamond on the Future of Human Rights

Celebrity scientist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond knows how to tackle big questions. His bestsellers, Collapse, and Guns, Germs, and Steel, have changed the ways we look at how societies thrive or fail and how we can maximize happiness while dodging ecological collapse. Now, in a brand new talk, Diamond enlightens audiences on the nature of basic human rights and how they will look in the future.

From the new speech topic
:

Today, in Western democracies, we take for granted the idea that all humans enjoy certain universal rights--at least in theory. Those rights include the right to vote, to receive fair justice, to be treated decently as prisoners of war, not to be enslaved, and not to suffer group-based discrimination in applying to jobs or schools. Specifically, those rights are supposed to be shared by men and women, rich and poor, young and old; all people, regardless of family connections or social role or ethnicity or religion.

Although these rights now seem natural, we forget how absurd they would have seemed throughout most of human history, and how recent their acceptance even in Western democracies has been. Why, after tens of thousands of years in which it was taken for granted that different people have different rights, should the notion have arisen, just within the last couple of centuries, that all humans share basic rights? Why should this view have arisen first in Western Europe and its overseas daughter societies, rather than somewhere else, such as in India or China or among Native Americans, Africans, or Australians? Will there be even further broadening of human rights in the near future? What about rights of older people, prisoners, animals, and poor people in the developing world?

Read more about celebrated author Jared Diamond
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