Dafydd Mills Daniel on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze


Dr Dafydd Daniel

Dafydd Mills Daniel on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze 


Dr Dafydd Mills Daniel appeared on The Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4 to discuss 'Rights and Rules'. 


He argued that we should return to a natural law way of thinking and talking about rights, so as to recover the emphasis upon duty and the public good that was once central to the human rights tradition itself. 

In doing so, Dafydd maintained, we can develop a civic humanism of rights-talk, that encourages us not just to ask whether we have rights, but whether the ways in which we choose to exercise our rights are good

Dafydd explained how his position is consistent with early critics of modern rights-talk, who were concerned with the ‘possessive individualism’ they associated with the ‘social contract’ theory of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke – but that Dafydd’s view also accords with early proponents of universal human rights, not least those who did so as part of their Enlightenment (and Christian) commitment to reason, and ‘eternal distinctions’ between right and wrong, such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Richard Price. 

As a result, in the programme, Dafydd continues to develop themes about the relationship between rights and duties that he raised in his BBC Radio 3 documentary Where do human rights come from?  

Similarly, he develops themes from his recent book, Ethical Rationalism and Secularisation in the British Enlightenment: Conscience and the Age of Reason, where he identifies three principles that not only help to explain the history of secularisation since the Enlightenment, but why, for its critics, increasing secularisation underpins increasing individualism:  

  • The naturalisation of reason 
  • The privatisation of value 
  • The individual as absolute constructor of value 

As a ‘witness’ for The Moral Maze, Dafydd was questioned by Michael Burke, Ash Sarkar, and Matthew Taylor.