The human figures today as a central reference point for human rights, humanitarianism, and global justice. But who or what is that human? This book rejects accounts in terms of core characteristics, and argues for an understanding of the human as a claim and commitment to equality.
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Advance praise: 'Anne Phillips' book is a hugely engaging critique of both descriptive and abstract accounts of the human as a basis for contemporary politics.' J. M. Browne, University of Cambridge
Advance praise: 'This is a brilliant and incisive intervention into contemporary political conceptions of the value of the human. Phillips persuasively rebuts widely accepted arguments about grounding a substantive notion of the human in dignity, an essence, or on scientific evidence. The Politics of the Human does not deal in abstractions or evade the question of embodied power. Rather, it seeks to affirm equality in and through human difference. These innovative and engaging lectures show how the affirmation of difference is required if we are to see that equality is a political creation and achievement rather than something discovered through argument or reason.' Moira Gatens, University of Sydney
Advance praise: 'Anne Phillips writes in a humane and even-handed way about how to understand the human, now: as status or claim? Drawing on a wide range of authors, from Arendt to Habermas, Butler to Bennett, Phillips builds a compelling case for the human as claim. Whether readers agree with her or not, none will come away unimpressed by the warmth and clarity of her vision in these Seeley lectures.' Bonnie Honig, Brown University, Rhode Island
Advance praise: 'In her compelling and accessible account of the politics of the human as an enactment of our commitment to equality, Anne Phillips decisively liberates political theory from the futile search for the 'foundations' of human beings, and in doing so remaps the conceptual terrain of a number of key debates.' Nicola Lacey, London School of Economics and Political Science
The human is a central reference point for human rights. But who or what is that human? And given its long history of exclusiveness, when so many of those now recognised as human were denied the name, how much confidence can we attach to the term? This book works towards a sense of the human that does without substantive accounts of 'humanity' while also avoiding their opposite – the contentless versions that deny important differences such as race, gender and sexuality. Drawing inspiration from Hannah Arendt's anti-foundationalism, Phillips rejects the idea of 'humanness' as grounded in essential characteristics we can be shown to share. She stresses instead the human as claim and commitment, as enactment and politics of equality. In doing so, she engages with a range of contemporary debates on human dignity, humanism, and post-humanism, and argues that none of these is necessary to a strong politics of the human.
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