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Human Rights, Ethics, and the Importance of Evidence Based Research

What is the role of science in work on ethics and human rights? This webinar outlined the intimate relationship between human rights and ethics, and discussed how empirical, evidence-based research plays a critical role in revealing important, often counter-intuitive, findings about human rights. It is the latest in the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition's Scientific Collaborations with Human Rights Organizations webinar series, co-sponsored by the Coalition and the Movement Engaged Research Hub of the Center for Social Science Research at George Mason University.


Prof. Kristen Renwick Monroe’s research on altruism and moral choice - The Heart of Altruism (1996), The Hand of Compassion (2004), and Ethics in an Age of Terror and Genocide (2012) - has demonstrated how identity trumps choice, setting a menu of options that sets and delineates the range of choices available to us cognitively, not just morally. Her work identifies limitations in rational choice theory, cost-benefit analysis, psychology, and evolutionary biology, and modifies traditional philosophical understandings of how we make moral choices, challenging assumptions underlying Utilitarianism and Kantian ethical theory. Prof. Mneesha Gellman, President of the Human Rights Section of the American Political Science Association, also discussed her research on human rights and democratization.


Kristen Renwick Monroe is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at UC Irvine and founding Director of its Ethics Center. With over 22 books on politics, ethics, and psychology, Monroe is best known for her award-winning trilogy on altruism and moral choice.

Mneesha Gellman is Associate Professor of Political Science in the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Her research spans human rights, democratization, and education politics across the globe.

Ann Marie Clark (moderator) is Professor of Political Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. She has published a number of articles and books on international human rights ideas and law in international politics, and the work of nongovernmental actors in fostering human rights change at the global level.

John Dale (Host) is is Director of Movement Engaged Research Hub, Center for Social Science Research at George Mason University and Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (GMU).

This webinar series is a project of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. The team organizer is Oliver Moles, Ph.D.

To view past webinars in this series, please visit Scientific Collaborations with Human Rights Organizations.

Event Contact

Nate Weisenberg

Senior Program Associate

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