ABOUT THIS BOOK
Two authors with decades of experience promoting human rights argue that, as the world changes around us, rights hardly imaginable today will come into being.
A rights revolution is under way. Today the range of nonhuman entities thought to deserve rights is exploding—not just animals but ecosystems and even robots. Changes in norms and circumstances require the expansion of rights: What new rights, for example, are needed if we understand gender to be nonbinary? Does living in a corrupt state violate our rights? And emerging technologies demand that we think about old rights in new ways: When biotechnology is used to change genetic code, whose rights might be violated? What rights, if any, protect our privacy from the intrusions of sophisticated surveillance techniques?
Drawing on their vast experience as human rights advocates, William Schulz and Sushma Raman challenge us to think hard about how rights evolve with changing circumstances, and what rights will look like ten, twenty, or fifty years from now. Against those who hold that rights are static and immutable, Schulz and Raman argue that rights must adapt to new realities or risk being consigned to irrelevance. To preserve and promote the good society—one that protects its members’ dignity and fosters an environment in which people will want to live—we must at times rethink the meanings of familiar rights and consider the introduction of entirely new rights.
Now is one of those times. The Coming Good Society details the many frontiers of rights today and the debates surrounding them. Schulz and Raman equip us with the tools to engage the present and future of rights so that we understand their importance and know where we stand.
This enjoyable read examines how changing norms create opportunities to expand the scope of universal protections and rights.
-- Dov Greenbaum Science
A good read, thoughtful and provocative. Schulz and Raman know their subject thoroughly and present complex material in comprehensible prose that inspires both reflection and action. Writing at a time when authoritarian leaders advanced a human rights counterrevolution, the authors persuasively contend in effect that the best defense must include a strong offense. Completed prior to the further human rights setbacks resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the work advocating new rights still merits serious consideration.
-- Howard Tolley, Jr. Human Rights Quarterly
Raises some very provocative questions…[A] trail-blazing map through the new frontiers of rights…At times…a downright riveting read.
-- Joann Mackenzie Gloucester Times
William F. Schulz and Sushma Raman explore these new realms of knowledge and technology and begin to parse out what society will need to do to address human (and other) rights in the face of this onslaught of change…Clearly written and well argued.
-- The Humanist
In this essential work, Schulz and Raman explore what is needed to defend against the ever-present dangers to human rights. Perhaps just as importantly, they raise questions about what additional rights should be protected in our rapidly changing world. The Coming Good Society is an accessible primer for anyone who wishes to understand the current limitations in our notions of rights and the future challenges for which we must prepare.
-- Kerry Kennedy, President, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
The international human rights regimen never stops growing both in importance and in breadth. What sounds far-fetched today becomes normative tomorrow. Schulz and Raman outline brilliantly where that growth may take rights in the generations to come. Whether you agree with them in every instance is less important than that you take their questions seriously. This book makes it impossible not to do that.
-- Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Schulz and Raman take readers on a thought-provoking journey into the future of human rights and explain why we should all care. They draw on their extensive experience and their research at Harvard University’s Carr Center to address questions as fundamental and wide-ranging as ‘Does living in a surveillance society require us to think of the right to privacy in new ways?’ and ‘If gender is non-binary, do we need new rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity?’ This book is essential reading for human rights experts and newcomers alike.
-- Darren Walker, President, The Ford Foundation
When Amnesty International was founded in 1961, some human rights, such as those of women and LGBTQI persons and persons with disabilities, were in their infancies, if they were acknowledged at all. Schulz and Raman ask the fascinating question, ‘What rights are on the horizon now, perhaps just barely showing their faces, that may be widely recognized in the next generation or more?’ Their cogent answers challenge all of us to think deeply about what kind of society we and our children and our children’s children will want to live in.
-- Margaret L. Huang, former Executive Director, Amnesty International USA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Why Rights Change
2. Beyond Pink and Blue: Sex and Gender 2.0
3. Here’s Looking at You: Privacy in an Age of New Technology
4. Adam and Eve, CRISPR and SHEEF: The Challenge of New Developments in the Biosciences
5. From Petty to Panama: Corruption as a Violation of Human Rights
6. “Ask Now the Beasts and They Shall Teach Thee”: Why Animals Deserve Rights
7. Robots, Weapons, and War
8. Should Rocks Have Rights?: The Nature of Nature