Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies


Professor Phillip Allott of Cambridge University delivered seven two-hour lectures on human rights and social wrongs at the first annual Bertha Wilson Visitorship at Dalhousie Law School in September of 1992. Allott described the aim of the lecture series as "an effort to discover how one might set about changing the course of history through the application of ideas in the form of law, with a view to reducing the amount of social evils in the world and increasing the sum of human happiness." Allott began the lecture series by describing two recent events that exemplify the social evil present in our world. The first is the story of a woman whose child is killed by a member of a warring faction in her country and about how she expresses her grief from this tragedy by turning to kill other children in the name of her cause. Allott identified this as the eternal and universal event which represents all wrongs in our society. The second event he described is the creation of a machine for which there is no need or basis in our society – the Sony smell-making machine. The willful blindness to humanity's pressing basic needs and the lack of concern for the consequences of such technological growth represent society's woeful lack of control. Allott stated that all we do as humans is an attempt to integrate three worlds. The natural world is the physical basis of existence and that not within our control. The social world is that created by us in order to survive. Consciousness is that which is unseen and within us. My response to Professor Allott entails a brief presentation of some of the feminist ideas that were missing from his review. My purpose is to show that we can begin to achieve a greater sum of human happiness if we transcend those structures of ideas that currently exclude women, as well as challenge the structure of gender itself.

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