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Programme for the Study of Religion and Non-Religion
London School of Economics
Department of Anthropology
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London WC2A 2AE

Coordinator: Matthew Engelke  

Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 6775



Forum on Religion Events


The Forum on Religion, originally based in the LSE's European Institute, is now part of the Programme for the Study of Religion and Non-Religion. The Forum hosts the Programme's public lectures and an interdisciplinary seminar series, which are free and open to all.

Details and podcasts (where available) of previous events can be found at the Forum on Religion Past Events page|.


The Human: Intellectual Definitions and Public Beliefs in the U.S.

John Evans
: Friday 19 September 2014 

Time: 2.00pm-3.30pm

Venue: OLD 6.05 (Seligman Library), Old Building, LSE, WC2A 2AE  

Speaker: John Evans, Professor of Sociology, University of California at San Diego 

What it means to be human is one of the central, longest-running debates in Western thought. Our attention to the debates, however, is uneven—especially when it comes to public perceptions. This is important because many humanists claim that if the public holds the wrong notion of the human, they will treat other humans poorly. For example, a strand of human rights theory claims that human rights can only be legitimated with a theological definition of the human. In this talk I will discuss three intellectual definitions of the human (the biological, the theological and the philosophical), and one held only by the public (the sociological), as well as the claimed links between these ideas and human treatment, as they play out in relation to understandings of rights. I will discuss the differences between the intellectual versions and what the U.S. public believes, and describe some tentative empirical conclusions about the link between holding a particular notion of the human and human treatment.