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Wednesday, April 26 • 10:15am - 10:35am
The Numerical Difference Between Right and Wrong: Ethical Implications of Human Rights Measurement

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Statements of human rights are essentially statements of values. Fulfilling a commitment to human rights requires observing, measuring, and reporting on human rights abuses. The explosion in both supply of and demand for human rights measurement is, therefore, unsurprising. Quantitative data dominate this upsurge for several reasons, including their ability to measure over time and across nations and to be employed in econometric models. However, quantitive human rights measurements also present weaknesses, including diversion of attention away from the people suffering human rights abuses and toward numbers measuring those abuses. This diversion risks converting subjects into objects and obscuring the values inherent in rights. This paper will examine the need for human rights measurement, the methods used to measure, and the strengths and weaknesses of those methods for social scientists, advocates, policy-makers, and populations studied. As a recent addition to the body of data sets available for employment in human rights research and reporting, the Societal Violence Scale will be reviewed in light of this examination of benefit and detriment in measurement.


Wednesday April 26, 2017 10:15am - 10:35am
227 Zageir Hall