Turkuler Isiksel, LAPA Fellow; Columbia University

The Rights of Man and the Rights of the Man-made: Corporations and Human Rights

Mon, 11/17/2014
301 Marx Hall
Event Category: 

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Turkuler Isiksel, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, who will present "The Rights of Man and the Rights of the Man-made: Corporations and Human Rights."  The commentator is Philip Pettit, Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton.

Abstract:  "The Citizens United and Hobby Lobby decisions of the US Supreme Court sparked enormous controversy by expanding the court's long-standing doctrine that corporations are "persons" entitled to certain constitutional rights on the same basis as citizens. It is less widely noted that in areas of international economic law, business corporations are increasingly considered not just legal persons but bearers of human rights. This paper critically examines the incipient arrogation of human rights discourse in the context of international investment arbitration, where the claims of firms are often articulated and adjudicated with language and standards borrowed from human rights discourse. This development constitutes part of a larger process whereby regimes of global economic governance equip corporations with special legal protections, benefits, and entitlements, often at the expense of natural persons. The paper evaluates several arguments for considering corporations as bearers of human rights, and traces the implications of such a move for long-standing debates regarding the proper scope of human rights and the relationship between international human rights norms and domestic constitutional systems."

Turkuler Isiksel is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. In her scholarship, Isiksel focuses on the ways in which descriptive and normative categories tailored to the nation-state context might be adapted to institutions that wield political power beyond that context, such as regional organizations, international economic regimes, and transnational courts. Her other research interests include theories of sovereignty, delegated governance, citizenship, cosmopolitanism, constitutional theory, Turkey-E.U. relations, and 18th century theories of commerce and international politics. Before joining the political science faculty at Columbia, Isiksel held a Jean Monnet fellowship at the European University Institute’s Global Governance Program. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University. As a LAPA fellow, Isiksel will be completing a book manuscript entitled Europe’s Functional Constitution, which evaluates the extent to which constitutionalism, as a normative and empirical concept, can be adapted to supranational institutions by drawing on the European Union’s legal order. In addition, she will begin a new book project on democratic legitimacy and administrative governance, provisionally entitled For the People: Democratic Theory and Delegated Power.

Philip Pettit works in moral and political philosophy and on background issues in philosophical psychology and social ontology. His recent single-authored books include The Common Mind (1996), Republicanism (1997), A Theory of Freedom (2001), Rules, Reasons, and Norms (2002), Made with Words: Hobbes on Mind, Society, and Politics (2008), On the People’s Terms: A Republican Theory and Model of Democracy (2012) and Just Freedom: A Moral Compass for a Complex World (2014). He is the coauthor of The Economy of Esteem (2004), with Geoffrey Brennan, Mind, Morality, and Explanation (2004), a selection of papers with Frank Jackson and Michael Smith; A Political Philosophy in Public Life: Civic Republicanism in Zapatero’s Spain (2010), with Jose Marti; and Group Agents: The Possibility, Design and Status of Corporate Actors (2011), with Christian List. Common Minds: Themes from the Philosophy of Philip Pettit appeared in 2007 with Oxford University Press, edited by Michael Smith, Geoffrey Brennan, Robert Goodin, and Frank Jackson. Pettit is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and a Fellow of both the Humanities and Social Sciences Academies in Australia.