Research Prizes

Eric Boot
PhD dissertation:
Human Duties and the Limits of Human Rights Discourse.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. T. Mertens
Co-supervisor: Dr. R. Tinnevelt
Nomination: Radboud Universiteit, Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid

Report by the Selection Committee
The author of this excellently written dissertation displayed courage in dedicating himself to a subject that usually triggers aversion straight away: human rights obligations. A vague and paternalist concept, it is often said, and also a dangerous instrument favoured by dictators. Boot is fully aware of this dimension. Nevertheless, in a wonderfully constructed treatise, he argues that the perspective of obligations does make sense and, moreover, can contribute to a closer protection of human rights. This results in some exceptionally solid passages, for instance on the position of obligations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And his down-to-earth style, in which he always succeeds in exploring theoretical ideas through concrete situations, has produced a highly accessible book. Erasmus, the jury imagines, would thoroughly enjoy it.

Eric R. Boot studied philosophy and literary studies at the University of Amsterdam, the Naples Eastern University and the Free University of Berlin. In 2010 he graduated with a MA thesis on the concepts of freedom and responsibility in the works of Kant and Heidegger. As of June 2011 he started work on his PhD in philosophy of law  (supervised by prof. dr. Thomas Mertens and dr. Ronald Tinnevelt) at the Faculty of Law of the Radboud University Nijmegen. For the duration of the spring semester 2013 he visited the Department of Philosophy of the University of Pennsylvania as a visiting scholar. His supervisor there was prof. dr. Kok-Chor Tan. Following the completion of his PhD with honors (cum laude), he started work at Leiden University’s Institute for Philosophy in December 2015 on the three-year postdoctoral project ‘Unauthorized Disclosures,’ which is part of the project ‘Democratic Secrecy: Philosophical Analysis of the Role of Secrecy in Democratic Governance,’ funded by the European Research Council. His work in this project focuses mainly on the moral and legal questions concerning whistleblowing. In addition he is interested in the philosophy of human rights and Kantian philosophy.