The Centre for the Study of Social Action (CSSA) at the University of Milan is happy to host a symposium with Margaret Gilbert on her new book “Rights and Demands: A Foundational Inquiry” (to appear in May 2018, OUP) on June 21, 2018.

This symposium will focus on selected chapters of the book and each session will be preceded by some brief commentaries. If you would like to give a commentary, please send an email with your affiliation and statement of motivation to present a commentary in the symposium to by May 15, 2018.

Please register for participation by June 15, 2018.

Confirmed Commentators:

Francesca de Vecchi (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University)

Paolo di Lucia (University of Milan)

Adélaide de Lastic (Institut Jean Nicod/University of Milan)

Rights are invoked throughout contemporary moral and political discourse, yet their nature is deeply contested. Rights and Demands is the first extended treatment of demand-rights, a class of rights apt to be considered rights par excellence. To have a demand-right is to have the standing to demand an action of someone. How are demandrights possible? In response to this question Margaret Gilbert argues for two main theses. First, joint commitment, in a sense she explains, is a ground of demand-rights. She develops this thesis with special reference to promises and agreements, both generally taken to ground demand-rights. Gilbert argues that both agreements and promises are constituted by joint commitments, as are many other central social phenomena. The second thesis is that joint commitment may well be the only ground of demand-rights. In this connection Gilbert asks whether there are demand-rights whose existence can be demonstrated by moral argument without invoking a joint commitment, and reaches a negative conclusion. She also argues against the possibility of accruing demand-rights through the existence of a given legal system or other institution without the involvement of a joint commitment. The final chapter of the book applies its findings to the topic of human rights. Engaging as appropriate with central contributions to contemporary rights theory, this book provides an accessible route into this area for those unfamiliar with it.