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Professor Andrea Sangiovanni

Biographical details

I received my BA and PhD from Harvard University. Before joining the Philosophy Department at King’s College London (in 2007), I was a Randall Dillard Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge (2005-2007). My main areas of research are in contemporary moral, legal, and political philosophy, though I also have interests in the history of early-modern and modern political thought. Current research interests include: international justice and the philosophy  of international law; human rights and the idea of dignity; the relation between principles and social practices; justice, legitimacy, and solidarity in the European Union; ‘Scottish’ constructivism; moral and social equality. 

I have recently published a book entitled Humanity Without Dignity: Moral Equality, Respect, and Human Rights (Harvard University Press, 2017). Most who have written on moral equality have begun by asking: What is the basis of our equal moral worth? They have then sought answers in either classical Christian thinking or in Kant. I argue that this is a mistake. To understand our commitment to moral equality, we ought to begin by asking a very different question, namely: Why and when is it wrong to treat another as an inferior? We ought to look, that is, to the relations in which we stand to one another, rather than to search for a chimerical value-bestowing, transcendental property possessed by each one of us. This shift in perspective leads us away, I argue, from a preoccupation with worth or dignity, and towards a more fine-grained analysis of paradigmatic instances of treating as an inferior, such as stigmatization, dehumanization, infantilization, and objectification. I come to the conclusion that our commitment to moral equality is best explained by a rejection of cruelty rather than a celebration of rational capacity. I then trace the impact of this fundamental shift for our understanding of human rights, and the place of anti-discrimination norms in that understanding. 

I am also working on another book for Harvard University Press entitled The Bounds of Solidarity: International Justice, Reciprocity, and the European UnionThis book begins by exploring the concept and grounds of solidarity. Solidarity, I argue, underpins an appealing conception of social justice rooted in reciprocity rather than shared identity or shared subjection to coercive authority. The book then goes on to apply this conception  to the European Union, which is perhaps the most ambitious — and, at the moment, precarious — project of supra-, trans-, and inter-national solidarity in the world today.

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