Thu, 21 Sep 2017

Writings on Human Rights

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Drones and the Question of "The Human"

Carnegie Journal of Ethics & International Affairs, volume 28, issue 02, pp. 159-169.

 

The increasing reliance on drones is threatening our humanity—but not because of the inhumane ways we use Predator drones in warfare. It is a mistake “to use the term “drone” to refer only to these much publicized military devices. Drones, more precisely understood, are intelligent machines that—possessed of the capacity to perform repetitive tasks with efficiency, reliability, and mechanical rationality—increasingly displace the need for human thinking and doing. The trend Jünger and Turkle worry about is unmistakable: we are at risk of losing the rich and mature relationships that mark us as human. The rise of social robots, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other one-dimensional machines that act like humans—without the perceived human weaknesses of distraction, emotion, exhaustion, quirkiness, risk, and unreliability—answers a profound human desire to replace human judgment with the more reliable, more efficient, and more ra- tional judgment of machines. For all the superficial paeans to human instinct and intuition, human beings, in practice, repeatedly prefer drone-like reliability to the uncertain spontaneity of human intuition. In other words, we confront a future in which “human” is a derogatory adjective signifying inefficiency, incompetence, and backwardness.

Read the essay Here

Drones and the Question of "The Human"

Drones and the Question of "The Human," Roger Berkowitz, Ethics & International Affairs, volume 28, issue 02, pp. 159-169.

 

The increasing reliance on drones is threatening our humanity—but not because of the inhumane ways we use Predator drones in warfare. It is a mistake “to use the term “drone” to refer only to these much publicized military devices. Drones, more precisely understood, are intelligent machines that—possessed of the capacity to perform repetitive tasks with efficiency, reliability, and mechanical rationality—increasingly displace the need for human thinking and doing. The trend Jünger and Turkle worry about is unmistakable: we are at risk of losing the rich and mature relationships that mark us as human. The rise of social robots, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other one-dimensional machines that act like humans—without the perceived human weaknesses of distraction, emotion, exhaustion, quirkiness, risk, and unreliability—answers a profound human desire to replace human judgment with the more reliable, more efficient, and more rational judgment of machines. For all the superficial paeans to human instinct and intuition, human beings, in practice, repeatedly prefer drone-like reliability to the uncertain spontaneity of human intuition. In other words, we confront a future in which “human” is a derogatory adjective signifying inefficiency, incompetence, and backwardness.

Download the essay here.

Hannah Arendt and Human Rights

The Handbook of Human Rights (Routledge, 2011)

Hannah Arendt approaches human rights as someone who lived through their failure in the first half of the 20th century. A German Jew, Arendt understood antisemitism, experienced the denationalization of the Jews in Germany, and witnessed how the world and even the diaspora Jewish community largely ignored the plight of European Jewry. Arendt also saw how other minority peoples in Europe - Germans in Russia, Slovaks in Czechloslavakia, muslims in Yugoslavia, Gypsies, and many others - were systematically denaturalized, persecuted, and killed - all, as she emphasized, within the strictures of national and international law. For Arendt, the failure of human rights is a fundamental fact of modern times.

Read the full article here.

Revolutionary Constitutionalism: Some Thoughts on Laurie Ackermann's Dignity Jurisprudence

Acta Juridica (2008)

- Reprinted in Dignity, Freedom and the Post-Apartheid Legal Order, ed. by Alfred Barnard (Jutta, 2009).

Justice Laurie Ackermann’s decision in Ferreira is a study in tonal dissonance. Ackermann’s 232 paragraph legal opinion begins slowly. It plots out the judicial history of the case; it wades through questions of jurisdiction and standing; and it frames the question of the case all without offering a narrative version of the facts.

One must read carefully and between the lines to discern that the case concerns a plaintiff, Clive Ferreira, who was employed by Prima Bank Holdings Ltd., a corporation that had gone bankrupt and ceased operations. Mr. Ferreira was summoned to give sworn testimony about the affairs and property of Prima Bank. He declined, asserting a right not to offer self-incriminating testimony. In doing so, Ferreira violated section 417 of the Companies Act that requires such testimony in administrative proceedings and also expressly allows that such testimony ‘may thereafter be used in evidence’ in a criminal proceeding.

View the full PDF here.

Hannah Arendt and Human Rights

Philosophy in Review (December, 2007). Review of Peg Birmingham's Hannah Arendt and Human Rights

Apologies. This article is not currently available online.

Error-Centricity, Habeas Corpus, and the Rule of Law as the Law of Rules

Louisiana Law Review v. 64 (2004)

On August 10th, 1927, as hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in New York, Paris, Berlin and in cities from South America to the Soviet Union, as workers around the world called general strikes and took to the streets, and as, in the words of one commentator, “the world waited,”1 a team of attorneys representing Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti sought out United States Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Trailed by journalists to Holmes’ Beverly, Massachusetts summer residence, the attorneys pleaded with the Justice to grant Sacco and Vanzetti a writ of habeas corpus. If Holmes were to grant the writ, the murder verdict against the two Italian-American anarchists would be nullified, and they would be set free pending a new trial. As Sacco and Vanzetti were scheduled to be executed that evening, time was short and tensions were high.

View the full PDF here.