Posted on 22 September 2020 in human rights, isrf fellows

New book – Being Sure of Each Other: An Essay on Social Rights and Freedoms by Kimberley Brownlee

Former ISRF Fellow Kimberley Brownlee presents her new book, Being Sure of Each Other. In this landmark work, Brownlee champions our fundamental––but largely neglected––human right against social deprivation.

KIMBERLEY BROWNLEE, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLOMBIA

ISRF Early Career Fellow 2014

Main image:
Detail from front cover (original art piece by Dave Brownlee).


To survive, let alone flourish, we need to be sure of—securely tied to—at least one other person. We also need to be sure of our general acceptance within the wider social world. This book explores the normative implications of taking our social needs seriously.

Chapter 1 sketches out what our core social needs are, and Chapter 2 shows that they ground a fundamental, but largely neglected human right against social deprivation. Chapter 3 then argues that this human right includes a right to sustain the people we care about, and that often, when we are denied the resources to sustain others, we endure social contribution injustice. Chapters 4–6 explore the tension between our needs for social inclusion and our needs for interactional and associational freedom, showing that social inclusion must take priority. While Chapters 5 and 6 defend a narrow account of freedom of association, Chapter 7 shows that the moral ballgame changes once we have made morally messy associative decisions. Sometimes we have rights to remain in associations that we had no right to form. Finally, Chapter 8 exposes the distinct social injustices that we do to people whom we deem to be socially threatening. Overall, the book identifies ways to change our social and political practices, and our personal perspectives, to better honour the fact that we are fundamentally social beings.

For a piece by the author discussing related themes, see here.

Being Sure of Each Other: An Essay on Social Rights and Freedoms

by Kimberley Brownlee
Published by Oxford University Press
£40.00 (hardcover)


Professor Kimberley Brownlee

Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia

Kimberley Brownlee is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. Her current work focuses on loneliness, belonging, social human rights, and freedom of association. Her past work focused on civil disobedience, punishment, and restorative justice. She is the author of Being Sure of Each Other (Oxford University Press, 2020) and Conscience and Conviction: The Case for Civil Disobedience (Oxford University Press, 2012). She was an ISRF Early Career Fellow in 2014.

Kimberley Brownlee ISRF