This guest post is contributed by Donnchadh O’Conaill, a post-doctorate researcher at the Department of Philosophy in the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. It is written and contributed in a personal capacity.
This week the Dail meets to discuss the Oireachtas Committee ‘s recommendation that abortion be allowed on request up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy. This is likely, though by no means certain, to form the basis of a proposal to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution. The committee’s recommendation was a politically momentous decision, but one which may have even greater significance in shaping the direction of the national debate to come.
Until recently much of the narrative around repealing the Eighth Amendment had focused on certain types of cases and on specific grounds on which abortion might be justified. These cases included fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancies which occur as a result of rape or incest.[i] Stories describing these cases are undeniably powerful. They are by no means the only kinds of case which have been discussed, but they have been central to the growing movement for repeal. Continue reading “Shifting Sands Under the Abortion Debate”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the fourth of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly.
In the context of debates about abortion, autonomy is often appealed to by those promoting greater legal access. Those who wish to restrict access to abortion must either argue that autonomy is not as ethically significant as is often assumed, or that in the specific case of abortion the autonomy of pregnant women should be limited. Dr. Dónal O’Mathúna explores each of these lines in his presentation to the Citizen’s Assembly. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizen’s Assembly (4): The Presentation of Dr. Dónal O’Mathúna”
The Hague Justice Journal First Edition in Association with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia launches its call for submissions
The editorial board of The Hague Justice Journal (HJJ) is delighted to announce that it is soliciting submissions for its 2017 volume relating to the ICTY’s legacy in this its final year of operations. Such submissions will include selected papers from the ICTY Legacy Conference due to be held from 23-24 June 2017 in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and will be published in Autumn 2017. The HJJ undertakes this endeavor in formal cooperation with the ICTY, in line with a number of legacy-related activities being organized in 2017 by the ICTY and by the Peace, Justice and Security Foundation. Continue reading “Hague Justice Journal: Call for Papers”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the third of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly; the first can be found here, and the second here.
While debates over the status of the foetus are central to ethical and philosophical discussions of abortion, the freedom of women to choose to have abortions is crucial to political debates on this subject. Dr. Joan McCarthy presented a defence of this freedom, taking as her starting point “the body and the life of the woman or girl who is pregnant”, considered as a moral agent, i.e., as making ethical choices in concrete situations. In assessing the choices such women face, McCarthy draws on two principles: autonomy and justice. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizen’s Assembly (3): The Presentation of Dr. Joan McCarthy”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the second of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly; the first can be found here.
Debates about abortion can often be traced back to disagreements about the status of the foetus, e.g., whether it is a being with any independent moral significance. All parties to this disagreement share two assumptions: that ethical debates over abortion are primarily a matter of the moral importance of the foetus, and that the nature of the foetus is what determines its moral status. Hence many opponents of abortion will appeal to the fact that the foetus is a human being, e.g. it has a soul or has the potential to become a rational being; many proponents of liberal abortion laws will counter that the foetus, at least early in its development, lacks certain capacities which are crucial to having moral status. The arguments here are often complex and involve subtle points of metaphysics which are not easy to resolve. More generally, regardless of what one thinks about these issues, it might seem that such esoteric matters are not appropriate as a basis for legislation.
In her submission to the Citizen’s Assembly, Prof. Bobbie Farsides outlines an alternative approach: a way of justifying a pro-choice regime which seeks to avoid disputes about the nature or moral status of the foetus. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizens Assembly (2): The Presentation of Bobbie Farsides”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Dr Dug Cubie, UCC. In it, he reworks Fuller’s Story of King Rex for contemporary times.
In Lon Fuller’s 1969 book The Morality of Law, Fuller set out the story of King Rex as a cautionary tale of the need for clarity, consistency and predictability within legal systems. Profoundly influenced by the horrors of the 20th Century, in particular the Nazi regime in Germany and the Stalinist regime in the USSR, Fuller desired to establish certain benchmarks for legal systems based on his view of the “inner morality of the law.” Fuller argued that the inner morality of a legal system was based first on the morality of duty (the duty to provide basic rules for the ordering of society) and then the morality of aspiration (the aspiration of excellence within a legal system). Surprisingly little of Lon Fuller’s account of King Rex needs to be changed to fairly accurately reflect the start of President Trump’s administration…
So, as Fuller might have written: This story concerns the unhappy reign of a monarch who bore the convenient, but not very imaginative and not even very regal sounding name of Tex. Continue reading “The Story of King Tex: A Modern Allegory”
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Donnchadh O’Conaill, of the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies at the University of Helsinki. This is the first of a series of posts Donnchadh is writing on presentations of ethicists to the Citizens Assembly.
Regardless of what one thinks about the need for a Citizen’s Assembly, its deliberations have already thrown up a number of interesting approaches to thinking about ethical issues, particularly concerning abortion. What follows is a series of articles on the presentations by ethicists to the assembly, examining the arguments that they offer and their potential implications for a possible referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment.
Dr. Helen Watt presented an argument against abortion which was of interest, particularly in the context of Irish debates about abortion, in not relying (at least not explicitly) on religious doctrine. Indeed, Watt’s arguments rest on certain assumptions which are difficult or impossible to reconcile with the beliefs of many religions, for instance the belief in an immortal soul. But as with more familiar religiously-motivated discussions, Watt’s argument appeals to the nature of the foetus to justify its having a certain moral status. By the ‘nature’ of the foetus I mean not just its physical or biological features but those features which might be thought to give it moral significance in and of itself, regardless of what anyone thinks about it. This kind of moral significance is what is usually meant when ethicists speak of the ‘moral status’ of the foetus. Continue reading “Reflections on the Citizens Assembly (1): The presentation of Dr Helen Watt”
We are pleased to publish this guest post from Ciarán Finlay, Legal & Policy Officer with the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC).
The value of shining an international spotlight on domestic human rights issues has long been recognised by civil society organisations working in Ireland. Prior experience has shown that international scrutiny by United Nations (UN) bodies and experts can yield tangible results in the form of positive state action.
However, while domestic actors place much emphasis on periodic reporting to UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies and the Universal Periodic Review mechanism, considerably less focus is placed on engagement with UN Special Procedures mandate holders and taking individual complaints to UN Treaty Bodies. Continue reading “Intensifying the glare of the United Nations’ spotlight”
The deadline for submission of abstracts to the PGR and early career conference to be held in Griffith College Dublin on 10 June 2016, and entitled ‘International and Comparative Law in the 21st Century: Lessons learned?’, is Friday 8th April 2016 at 5pm
The keynote speaker will be full time Commissioner of the Law Reform Commission, Finola Flanagan. She was previously Director General of the Office of the Attorney General and, more recently, she was co-ordinator of EU and ECHR law in Ireland. She is a member of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters and has acted as rapporteur on a number of its Opinions.
Applicants are requested to submit a 300 word abstract of the paper which they intend to present to firstname.lastname@example.org which will be peer-reviewed by the selection Committee.
There will be an Award for the candidate who presents the best paper. In order to be considered for the ‘Best Paper’ Award, candidates must submit a full length paper of no more than 2,000 words in addition to the 300 word abstract. If you wish to be considered for the ‘Best Paper’ award, please indicate so clearly in your submission email.
Deadline: The final date for abstract submissions is Friday 8th April at 5pm.
Timeline: The Conference Committee will send acceptance notifications and paper feedback in April 2016.
Contact details: Please e-mail email@example.com should you have any queries in this regard.
Fee: €30 per delegate. This will include refreshments and a light lunch.
“The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I am delighted, as part of the University of Iowa Centre for Human Rights’ 75th anniversary celebration of the Four Freedoms Speech, to consider Roosevelt’s fourth and final freedom – freedom from fear. David Keane pondered whether the four freedoms ought to be considered in terms of hierarchy and he suggested that freedom of speech might come out tops – not just because it is the first of the freedoms but because freedom of speech is a “gateway” right. This may be so but freedom from fear outranks the others in its own ways. On the one hand, freedom from fear was the most ambitious of Roosevelt’s four (although ‘freedom from want’ puts up quite the challenge). Freedom from fear represented the aspiration of an international prohibition on aggression or, indeed, the “human right to peace”. There is though another way of reading Roosevelt’s fourth freedom. Freedom from fear was in fact the leitmotif of the entire speech. Fear is invoked ambiguously – equivocally, even – both as a provocation, to rally public support and to justify American intervention in the war, and as a promise, of future freedom. In other words, Roosevelt was telling the American public – in order to enjoy this freedom, in order to secure freedom from fear, we must go to war. From a rhetorical perspective, by neatly and rhythmically rounding off the four freedoms, freedom from fear represented the alliterative crowning glory of Roosevelt’s speech and his call to intervention. Continue reading “Michelle Farrell on Freedom from Fear”