Author Topic: Human Rights  (Read 182 times)

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Human Rights
« on: September 13, 2017, 06:50:27 PM »
I've been thinking a little on the subject of human rights lately. Do you think basic rights are inherent? Or given by legislative bodies and governments?

I ask because if they are conceded by higher ups then they can easily be taken away by those same higher ups, can they not? :notsure: Perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to the ruling class is the people start to believe that conceded rights are inherent and will fight to keep them.
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 06:54:05 PM »
Inherent or not, the mudholes that dole out power ensure other like-minded mudholes get first dibs.

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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 07:21:19 PM »
This thread affords an opportunity to discuss the genius of the American Revolution and the political philosophy that was the basis of it.  Let's start with the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson.  The philosophy expressed in that document grew out of the Enlightenment, largely from the writings of John Locke.  The most critical sentence of the document is as follows:  'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Jefferson invites the reader to adopt a view of the world that rights are inherent, stemming from the "Creator".  He does not define the Creator, so it could be a God or it could be the laws of nature or something else.  He makes the bold statement that the "truths" he is proclaiming are "self-evident".  By this he means to remove those statements from criticism or analysis based on actual evidence or reason. He simply proclaims that they "are."  Now, we can't prove that rights are inherent or granted from a power, but Jefferson - and the other Founders who adopted the Declaration - start from the position that they are inherent.  If we adopt that position, then the rights cannot be abrogated by the politicians in power at any particular time, and this is the purpose of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, which came a decade or so later.  Because that is the critical idea - if rights are inherent, they are "unalienable" they cannot be taken away.  They can be regulated or limited, but not removed.  But if  rights are given by human authority, they can be taken away.  So it is important for liberal democracies to adopt the fiction that rights are inherent.  Otherwise, they are no rights at all.

This is the issue - unless people are willing to agree with the idea that rights are inherent, then those rights are as flimsy as the whims of corrupt politicians.  This is the basis for the genius of the American Revolution.  It is the reason that American democracy has lasted over 240 years.  The importance of adopting this particular view of reality cannot be overstated.   

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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 07:35:41 PM »
Although if you tell people that it is inherent, they might go around abusing it. i.e. saying the n-word because you don't like black people or you're just angry at something that had nothing to do with black people in the first place so you just blurt it out anyway.
But, uh...well there it is.
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 07:42:51 PM »
This thread affords an opportunity to discuss the genius of the American Revolution and the political philosophy that was the basis of it.  Let's start with the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson.  The philosophy expressed in that document grew out of the Enlightenment, largely from the writings of John Locke.  The most critical sentence of the document is as follows:  'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Jefferson invites the reader to adopt a view of the world that rights are inherent, stemming from the "Creator".  He does not define the Creator, so it could be a God or it could be the laws of nature or something else.  He makes the bold statement that the "truths" he is proclaiming are "self-evident".  By this he means to remove those statements from criticism or analysis based on actual evidence or reason. He simply proclaims that they "are."  Now, we can't prove that rights are inherent or granted from a power, but Jefferson - and the other Founders who adopted the Declaration - start from the position that they are inherent.  If we adopt that position, then the rights cannot be abrogated by the politicians in power at any particular time, and this is the purpose of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, which came a decade or so later.  Because that is the critical idea - if rights are inherent, they are "unalienable" they cannot be taken away.  They can be regulated or limited, but not removed.  But if  rights are given by human authority, they can be taken away.  So it is important for liberal democracies to adopt the fiction that rights are inherent.  Otherwise, they are no rights at all.

This is the issue - unless people are willing to agree with the idea that rights are inherent, then those rights are as flimsy as the whims of corrupt politicians.  This is the basis for the genius of the American Revolution.  It is the reason that American democracy has lasted over 240 years.  The importance of adopting this particular view of reality cannot be overstated.

This is interesting. I'm not well versed in Brazilian law but I do get the impression that certain rights are as flimsy as the whims of corrupt politicians, especially with recent amendments to the Brazilian Constitution that they've been passing.  Perhaps such modifications and additions are necessary, I don't know. Maybe they're not the best route to fixing the economic crisis but all I know is that when certain rights get in the way of progress they suddenly aren't inalienable. 
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 07:45:46 PM »
Although if you tell people that it is inherent, they might go around abusing it. i.e. saying the n-word because you don't like black people or you're just angry at something that had nothing to do with black people in the first place so you just blurt it out anyway.

IMO anyone who believes that they are free to do as they please is naive. Freedom comes with limitations. A person's freedom to say as he or she pleases ends when what they say incites or validates violence or prejudice, I think. 
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 07:59:00 PM by xSilverPhinx »
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 07:50:54 PM »
We've discussed this topic here before, but who knows whether the thread(s) I'm thinking of are available now. I'm not going to search right at the moment, but I can post something I wrote a few years ago that wasn't posted here. It's a bit long-winded; the TLDR is the final paragraph.



I'll begin by stipulating that I do not think that human rights exist in a purely objective sense. They aren't written in the stars, and the likelihood of deity who might have established them appears to be extremely remote. Given that, I think that they do exist in the context of human society, and my argument should be understood as applying to humanity as a species, rather than as an attempt to equate human rights to anything like the laws of physics.

Any time people live in groups (which is nearly always, given the fact that we are a social species), by necessity there must be some arrangement to facilitate the interactions of the members of the group--at least a minimal agreement on some sort of bylaws, even if they're not written down. Also there must be some acknowledgement of what, for lack of a better word, I will call rights. The right to be a member of the group, the right to share in the resources the group uses and acquires, and so on. That isn't to say that rights, in any particular group of people, are inviolable, but I think that they have to exist, otherwise it doesn't seem it would be possible for people to live in groups.

Human beings are capable of reason, and are also a social species. There is no biological basis for an inherent scale of worth, whereby any particular human being is due more respect than other human beings. Therefore we either all inherently have human rights, or we all don't have any inherent rights. To exist as a reasoning, social species, we must be able to recognize one another as having worth due to being a fellow human being, and not mere means to an end. That is, if we treat other human beings as having zero worth, we will tend to act in ways that in the long run are destructive to our species. Not only that, but we will establish a precedent whereby other human beings might treat us as having zero worth.

To exist as a rational social species I think we also must recognize the reciprocal nature of human interaction: We as individuals want to be treated with dignity, and therefore we should treat others with dignity, and want our society to treat individuals with dignity, though that desire may not extend beyond the limits of our own society. At this point in the history of our species, however, rational people realize that a purely provincial understanding of human rights is counterproductive to our survival. Our rational self interest, both as individuals and as a species, dictates that we recognize that other people have worth. Rationally, we also will recognize that we must be able to coexist, or in the long run we will cease to exist as a species. In the absence of a recognition of inherent worth, we will tend to act in ways that are destructive of society, and eventually of the species itself.

If we recognize inherent worth of other human beings, we can examine our own most basic needs and desires to determine what we as members of the same species have in common that are necessary for existence. Those most basic needs and desires of all human beings are generally given the name of "human rights"; rights we inherently possess because we are human.

Governments are nothing more than formal arrangements whereby groups of people live together. They only exist because people exist, and by their nature as a social species, form themselves into groups of various sizes. The power of government is actually the power of a community of people in aggregate--it does not originate from a god, it does not originate from a monarch. If a government's power originates with the community of people, a government cannot be the ultimate source of rights. Just as with the power of government, human rights originate with the people, not the government.

Briefly: To exist as a species, human beings must recognize inherent worth of other human beings because of our nature as reasoning, social animals that do not possess any inherent hierarchy imposed by biology. That inherent worth is manifested by inherent rights.
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 08:01:22 PM »
It's been my experience that many Europeans don't agree with the idea of inherent rights. To them, rights are something given by governments, and have no other basis.
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 08:06:35 PM »
We've discussed this topic here before, but who knows whether the thread(s) I'm thinking of are available now. I'm not going to search right at the moment, but I can post something I wrote a few years ago that wasn't posted here. It's a bit long-winded; the TLDR is the final paragraph.

Whoops, sorry about that. I don't remember there being a thread on this subject here, I would have searched for it before starting this thread.

I found this: Rights. Inalienable or human ego?, maybe it's the one you're thinking of?



Quote
I'll begin by stipulating that I do not think that human rights exist in a purely objective sense. They aren't written in the stars, and the likelihood of deity who might have established them appears to be extremely remote. Given that, I think that they do exist in the context of human society, and my argument should be understood as applying to humanity as a species, rather than as an attempt to equate human rights to anything like the laws of physics.

Any time people live in groups (which is nearly always, given the fact that we are a social species), by necessity there must be some arrangement to facilitate the interactions of the members of the group--at least a minimal agreement on some sort of bylaws, even if they're not written down. Also there must be some acknowledgement of what, for lack of a better word, I will call rights. The right to be a member of the group, the right to share in the resources the group uses and acquires, and so on. That isn't to say that rights, in any particular group of people, are inviolable, but I think that they have to exist, otherwise it doesn't seem it would be possible for people to live in groups.

Human beings are capable of reason, and are also a social species. There is no biological basis for an inherent scale of worth, whereby any particular human being is due more respect than other human beings. Therefore we either all inherently have human rights, or we all don't have any inherent rights. To exist as a reasoning, social species, we must be able to recognize one another as having worth due to being a fellow human being, and not mere means to an end. That is, if we treat other human beings as having zero worth, we will tend to act in ways that in the long run are destructive to our species. Not only that, but we will establish a precedent whereby other human beings might treat us as having zero worth.

To exist as a rational social species I think we also must recognize the reciprocal nature of human interaction: We as individuals want to be treated with dignity, and therefore we should treat others with dignity, and want our society to treat individuals with dignity, though that desire may not extend beyond the limits of our own society. At this point in the history of our species, however, rational people realize that a purely provincial understanding of human rights is counterproductive to our survival. Our rational self interest, both as individuals and as a species, dictates that we recognize that other people have worth. Rationally, we also will recognize that we must be able to coexist, or in the long run we will cease to exist as a species. In the absence of a recognition of inherent worth, we will tend to act in ways that are destructive of society, and eventually of the species itself.

If we recognize inherent worth of other human beings, we can examine our own most basic needs and desires to determine what we as members of the same species have in common that are necessary for existence. Those most basic needs and desires of all human beings are generally given the name of "human rights"; rights we inherently possess because we are human.

Governments are nothing more than formal arrangements whereby groups of people live together. They only exist because people exist, and by their nature as a social species, form themselves into groups of various sizes. The power of government is actually the power of a community of people in aggregate--it does not originate from a god, it does not originate from a monarch. If a government's power originates with the community of people, a government cannot be the ultimate source of rights. Just as with the power of government, human rights originate with the people, not the government.

Briefly: To exist as a species, human beings must recognize inherent worth of other human beings because of our nature as reasoning, social animals that do not possess any inherent hierarchy imposed by biology. That inherent worth is manifested by inherent rights.

Interesting response, thank you. I'll try and piece together a reply later when I'm more fully awake. :grin:
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 08:17:57 PM »
Heheheh, I see that I have posted that here before. Ah well, my apologies. Anyway, I was actually thinking of a much earlier thread.
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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 07:08:24 AM »
 

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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 08:14:11 AM »
Carlin is funny.

Sometimes when we talk about abstract things like rights, some people get stuck in a solipsistic like area where "it depends on how you look at it, man."  I'll rant about that for a bit. Is bread really food if you don't eat it? Is money really worth something if people could just immediately stop accepting it? Are rights really rights if they can be taken away? Is something really yours if it can be stolen? These are all the same kind of thinking.

When we're young, we tend to think things are solid, well defined, and self-evident. That's how we're taught things, and that's not a bad thing because we're being introduced to new things. That's how it tends to be for pretty much everything new that we learn. But as we grow up and learn more, we should start seeing that things are less certain, that not everything falls into clearly defined boxes, and that sometimes things only seem self-evident because we lack information.

Going down the solipsistic path is as useless as going down the path of thinking everything is black and white. So we don't have rights in the same way that we don't have personal property.

----/rant----

Rights are granted or denied by governments. Take marriage equality for one thing. To me, I think it should just be allowed to any two consenting adults. But that does affect governments because marriage is a legal institution. So governments have to allow it before it becomes a right.

However, that doesn't mean that we just live with whatever the government says on the issue. There are good reasons to allow marriage equality and no good reasons to deny it. Based on the harm done to partners who are not allowed to marry, and that no one is harmed by allowing them to marry, it is a right that should be allowed and supported by the government.

I think that's how rights should be decided on.

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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2017, 05:38:32 PM »
This thread affords an opportunity to discuss the genius of the American Revolution and the political philosophy that was the basis of it.  Let's start with the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson.  The philosophy expressed in that document grew out of the Enlightenment, largely from the writings of John Locke.  The most critical sentence of the document is as follows:  'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Jefferson invites the reader to adopt a view of the world that rights are inherent, stemming from the "Creator".  He does not define the Creator, so it could be a God or it could be the laws of nature or something else.  He makes the bold statement that the "truths" he is proclaiming are "self-evident".  By this he means to remove those statements from criticism or analysis based on actual evidence or reason. He simply proclaims that they "are."  Now, we can't prove that rights are inherent or granted from a power, but Jefferson - and the other Founders who adopted the Declaration - start from the position that they are inherent.  If we adopt that position, then the rights cannot be abrogated by the politicians in power at any particular time, and this is the purpose of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, which came a decade or so later.  Because that is the critical idea - if rights are inherent, they are "unalienable" they cannot be taken away.  They can be regulated or limited, but not removed.  But if  rights are given by human authority, they can be taken away.  So it is important for liberal democracies to adopt the fiction that rights are inherent.  Otherwise, they are no rights at all.

This is the issue - unless people are willing to agree with the idea that rights are inherent, then those rights are as flimsy as the whims of corrupt politicians.  This is the basis for the genius of the American Revolution.  It is the reason that American democracy has lasted over 240 years.  The importance of adopting this particular view of reality cannot be overstated.

:computerwave: I have a question! In the case of the death penalty, what's going on there? The person sentenced to death no longer has the right to life?
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Ecurb Noselrub

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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2017, 05:46:48 PM »
This thread affords an opportunity to discuss the genius of the American Revolution and the political philosophy that was the basis of it.  Let's start with the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson.  The philosophy expressed in that document grew out of the Enlightenment, largely from the writings of John Locke.  The most critical sentence of the document is as follows:  'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Jefferson invites the reader to adopt a view of the world that rights are inherent, stemming from the "Creator".  He does not define the Creator, so it could be a God or it could be the laws of nature or something else.  He makes the bold statement that the "truths" he is proclaiming are "self-evident".  By this he means to remove those statements from criticism or analysis based on actual evidence or reason. He simply proclaims that they "are."  Now, we can't prove that rights are inherent or granted from a power, but Jefferson - and the other Founders who adopted the Declaration - start from the position that they are inherent.  If we adopt that position, then the rights cannot be abrogated by the politicians in power at any particular time, and this is the purpose of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, which came a decade or so later.  Because that is the critical idea - if rights are inherent, they are "unalienable" they cannot be taken away.  They can be regulated or limited, but not removed.  But if  rights are given by human authority, they can be taken away.  So it is important for liberal democracies to adopt the fiction that rights are inherent.  Otherwise, they are no rights at all.

This is the issue - unless people are willing to agree with the idea that rights are inherent, then those rights are as flimsy as the whims of corrupt politicians.  This is the basis for the genius of the American Revolution.  It is the reason that American democracy has lasted over 240 years.  The importance of adopting this particular view of reality cannot be overstated.

:computerwave: I have a question! In the case of the death penalty, what's going on there? The person sentenced to death no longer has the right to life?

Wonderful question!  I'm against the death penalty and do not think government has that power.  Unfortunately, people don't understand the philosophical implications of allowing government to kill its citizens when there is no immediate danger.  The right to life is unalienable under the Declaration. 

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Re: Human Rights
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2017, 06:06:58 PM »
I'll begin by stipulating that I do not think that human rights exist in a purely objective sense. They aren't written in the stars, and the likelihood of deity who might have established them appears to be extremely remote. Given that, I think that they do exist in the context of human society, and my argument should be understood as applying to humanity as a species, rather than as an attempt to equate human rights to anything like the laws of physics.

Any time people live in groups (which is nearly always, given the fact that we are a social species), by necessity there must be some arrangement to facilitate the interactions of the members of the group--at least a minimal agreement on some sort of bylaws, even if they're not written down. Also there must be some acknowledgement of what, for lack of a better word, I will call rights. The right to be a member of the group, the right to share in the resources the group uses and acquires, and so on. That isn't to say that rights, in any particular group of people, are inviolable, but I think that they have to exist, otherwise it doesn't seem it would be possible for people to live in groups.

Human beings are capable of reason, and are also a social species. There is no biological basis for an inherent scale of worth, whereby any particular human being is due more respect than other human beings. Therefore we either all inherently have human rights, or we all don't have any inherent rights. To exist as a reasoning, social species, we must be able to recognize one another as having worth due to being a fellow human being, and not mere means to an end. That is, if we treat other human beings as having zero worth, we will tend to act in ways that in the long run are destructive to our species. Not only that, but we will establish a precedent whereby other human beings might treat us as having zero worth.

To exist as a rational social species I think we also must recognize the reciprocal nature of human interaction: We as individuals want to be treated with dignity, and therefore we should treat others with dignity, and want our society to treat individuals with dignity, though that desire may not extend beyond the limits of our own society. At this point in the history of our species, however, rational people realize that a purely provincial understanding of human rights is counterproductive to our survival. Our rational self interest, both as individuals and as a species, dictates that we recognize that other people have worth. Rationally, we also will recognize that we must be able to coexist, or in the long run we will cease to exist as a species. In the absence of a recognition of inherent worth, we will tend to act in ways that are destructive of society, and eventually of the species itself.

If we recognize inherent worth of other human beings, we can examine our own most basic needs and desires to determine what we as members of the same species have in common that are necessary for existence. Those most basic needs and desires of all human beings are generally given the name of "human rights"; rights we inherently possess because we are human.

Governments are nothing more than formal arrangements whereby groups of people live together. They only exist because people exist, and by their nature as a social species, form themselves into groups of various sizes. The power of government is actually the power of a community of people in aggregate--it does not originate from a god, it does not originate from a monarch. If a government's power originates with the community of people, a government cannot be the ultimate source of rights. Just as with the power of government, human rights originate with the people, not the government.

Briefly: To exist as a species, human beings must recognize inherent worth of other human beings because of our nature as reasoning, social animals that do not possess any inherent hierarchy imposed by biology. That inherent worth is manifested by inherent rights.

I don't know if I agree that the idea that human beings being reasoning animals means the outcome will be the best for all.  There's a lot of potential for reasoned selfishness there that infringes on another's rights. Maybe in small, close-knit groups with family ties (such as tribal communities) such a scenario might be possible, but the inherent worth of other humans might end where the tribe does. War and raiding parties don't take the other's rights into full consideration.

As for large societies, I'm skeptical that in general another's rights will be respected without an institutions such as governmental enforcers. The tendency in such groups is dehumanisation, it seems.   
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