Human Rights: Religious and/or Secular Foundations?

Patrick Neal, Professor of Political Science

Patrick Neal, Professor of Political Science

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted, the philosopher Jacques Maritain famously said “Yes, we agree about the rights, but on condition that no one asks us why.” Asking “why” has been a staple of discussion in political theory ever since. This lecture will focus upon the work of two prominent contemporary thinkers, Michael Perry and Nicholas Wolterstorff, who argue that a successful grounding of the idea of human rights must be a religious one.

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Professor Neal began teaching courses in political theory at UVM in 1988. He is the author of Liberalism and its Discontents and numerous articles on subjects including Hobbes, Rawls, theories of justice, and the relation between religion and politics. He is a past winner of the Dean’s Lecture Award for superior teaching and scholarship. He is currently Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Honors Program for the Department of Political Science.

The College of Arts and Sciences Full Professor Lecture Series was designed to give newly promoted faculty an opportunity to share with the university community a single piece of research or overview of research trajectory meant to capture the spark of intellectual excitement that has resulted in their achieving full professor rank.

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