Being Social


A book launch and conversation with Kimberley Brownlee, David Jenkins & Adam Neal, editors of Being Social: The Philosophy of Social Human Rights.

2nd December 2022

How do we know when something is a human right rather than something people want but don’t have a right to have? Why has the human rights tradition seen political activities covered by rights, like the right to vote, but not the elements of our social lives? Should we have to right to inclusion and communication as well as the right not to be tortured? Should there be a right to love?

In a new book, former ISRF Fellow Kimberley Brownlee and her colleagues, David Jenkins and Adam Neal, bring together fourteen thinkers to analyze these questions. They reject the 20th century model that affirms liberty rights like voting and property-owning while relegating social rights to the tier of “nice to have sometime in the future.”

Instead, the authors make a imaginative and exciting case for defining many social goods as social rights: shelter, habitability, acceptance, intimacy, recognition, inclusion, interactional control, access to public space, and many more. A new vision of society emerges from these chapters, one based in careful arguments that show that a shift to social rights is within reach. 

Professor Brownlee may be familiar to the ISRF community from our launch of her 2020 book, Being Sure of Each Other (OUP). This new book brings her together with the latest work on the topic. She is joined at this launch by her co-editors: David Jenkins, Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Otago, New Zealand; and Adam Neal, Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick. A Q&A follows, moderated by Dr Lars Cornelissen, ISRF Academic Editor.

This is the twentieth in the ISRF’s series of Book Launches.