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Bas van Der Vossen

Bas van Der Vossen

Productive Human Rights

November 2, 2016

Bas van der Vossen is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at UNC Greensboro. His work focuses on questions of political philosophy, primarily about the ethical dimensions of international affairs and the justification of property rights.

His publications have appeared in  Social Philosophy and Policy, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Philosophical Psychology, Political Studies, Journal of Political Philosophy, Law and Philosophy, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Philosophy Compass, and  Res Publica. Professor Vossen is currently writing a co-authored book on humanitarian intervention for Oxford University Press. He is also co-editing the  Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism.

Funding for this lecture was provided by the Institute for Humane Studies through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.


“This paper defends basic economic rights and freedoms as core Human Rights. These rights, I argue, ought to be recognized among the most important Human Rights. I offer two independent, but mutually reinforcing justifications. The first is based on the Interest-theory of rights. I draw on extensive empirical evidence from development and institutional economics, I show that these rights are necessary (though not sufficient) conditions for ending poverty across the globe. Together with their significant individual benefits, this satisfies the conditions of the Interest Theory. The other justification is a so-called “linkage argument,” by which one class of Human Rights is justified because it is instrumental to achieving better protection of other Human Rights. The protection of economic rights and freedoms is positively correlated to the protection of standard social and political Human Rights. Together, these arguments show that the Productive Human Rights should be recognized as core Human Rights. They are among the necessary building blocks of societies in which the full productive force of citizens is unleashed in ways necessary for ending world poverty. The paper ends with some reflections on the broader philosophical significance of recognizing (or denying) these rights.”

Bas's Talk