Human Rights as 'Trumps' of Social Groups

This paper engages in an examination of legal forms which can be used in political and legal debates on the “individual goals” of social groups. If we accept the concept of “social group” as people united in pursuit of a particular aim, we can ask about ways to achieve these goals (and their defense) in public debate. How can a minority save their “individual goal” from the pressure of the “collective goal” behind which the majority stands? What type of legal construct might be used in constitutional debate to express and protect individual goals of social groups? An hypothesis that is going to be discussed in this paper points Ronald Dworkin's theory of (human) rights as “trumps”. This theory seems to provide axiological and practical tools of argumentation for overcoming utilitarian justifiable collective goals, opening up the space for constitutional protection of the individual goals of (minority) social groups.

Liberal-democratic citizenship and religious schools

A limited conception of liberal-democratic citizenship (LDC) ought to constrain the capacity of the state to ensure its own social reproduction to the detriment of other communities, including a religious community (RC). RCs may prioritize their own social reproduction over the development of LDC, or establish separate confessional schools to preserve themselves against a dominant culture that threatens to assimilate them. While neither the state nor the RC’s claim to social reproduction has first-order priority over the other, RCs in a democratic society may have a second-order interest in allowing some democratic regulation of schooling in order to preserve the political community of which they are part. Any limits to the autonomy of religious schooling rely not on the congruence of RCs to LDS values, but to a much more modest standard, a domestic analogue to the recognition Rawlsian liberals afford to “decent hierarchical societies” on the international sphere.

Sociability Online

This paper examines the capacity of forms of online sociability to serve as alternatives to more traditional forms of social interaction with respect to building trust, exchanging information and creating knowledge. The Web facilitates access to other subcultures and liberates from constraining social environments. Individuals can seek out like-minded persons and groups online and achieve acceptance that helps them withstand social censure and develop parts of their identity that otherwise might have crumbled under social disapproval (e.g. McKenna&Bargh 1998). The paper provides an overview over different forms of online sociability and examines their impact on the formation of social groups, interaction patterns and effects on sociability and trust through a comparative analysis with previous forms of sociability as theorized in 18-20th century liberal democratic theory.