Listen to Raimond Gaita’s 2016 Francis Bacon public lecture

Here is a link to recording of the Francis Bacon Lecture that took place on 19 May 2016 at the University of Hertfordshire.

Guest speaker was Professor Raimond Gaita

‘The Fragility of the Idea of a Common Humanity’


Ethically-inflected ways of speaking of humanity – as when we speak of seeing or failing to see the full humanity of others, of dehumanisation and of the common humanity of all the peoples of the earth – often go together with talk of universal human rights and sometimes with talk of the Dignity of persons or humanity. This is apparent in some of the preambles to important instruments of international law. Many philosophers believe that the concept of human rights contributes to the acknowledgement, by all peoples of the earth, of a common humanity. Some philosophers believe that the idea of the Dignity of persons (some speak of the ‘inalienable dignity’ of persons to which an unconditional respect is owed) rationally underpins the concept of universal human rights. In this lecture I shall argue that when our ways of speaking of human rights and the Dignity of persons cease to beethically-inflected ways of speaking of humanity, they lose contact with the only vocabulary in which their importance can be made manifest.