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2014 Annual Edmund Burke Lecture

What would Edmund Burke think of Human Rights?

The Inaugural Edmund Burke Lecture of the Trinity Long Room Hub Annual Edmund Burke Lectures by Baroness Onora O'Neill of Bengarve CH CBE FBA as part of the President of Ireland's Ethics Initiative took place on Tuesday, 22 April 2014 in the Synge Theatre, Arts Building.

Abstract: Scepticism about the Rights of Man played a central and memorable part in Edmund Burke’s thought.  What might he have thought about the Human Rights proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights, which enjoy such wide resonance at the start of the C21? Would he have reiterated his criticisms of the abstract character of the supposed rights of man, and rejected human rights as a revised but still inadequate form of abstract liberalism? Or would he have concluded that contemporary commitments to ‘realise’ human rights save them from mere abstraction, and   embed them in our times and our communities?   

Bio: Baroness Onora O’Neill combines writing on political philosophy and ethics with a range of public activities.  She comes from Northern Ireland and has worked mainly in Britain and the US.  She was Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1992-2006,  President of the British Academy from 2005-9, chaired the Nuffield Foundation from 1998-2010, has been a crossbench member of the House of Lords since 2000 (Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve).  She currently chairs the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission and is on the board of the Medical Research Council.  She lectures and writes on justice and ethics,  accountability and trust, justice and borders, as well as on the future of universities, the quality of legislation and the ethics of communication, including media ethics.               

The President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative
The President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative is a series of over 50 nationwide events that will stimulate debate on and awareness of ethical themes, questions and concerns. The Initiative will culminate in a national seminar at Áras an Uachtaráin in autumn 2014.

Trinity College Library Online Exhibition
Visit the Trinity College Library for an online exhibition on Edmund Burke.

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