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Thread: Human Rights

  1. #1

    Default Human Rights

    Realistically, actual rights are those that are explicitly expressed by some branch of society and generally represent an agreement by the population as to what types of behavior are allowed. However, when we talk about human rights we are often talking about rights that go beyond any legal definitions as if there are some kind of universal rights that all people have regardless of their cultural beliefs. The U.S. Declaration of Independence refers to these as "unalienable rights". At the universe level the term "rights" may not be appropriate, but I'll stick to that term anyway just to make my point.

    Long story short: Can I assume that, as a creature born of the universe, I have the cosmic right to do anything I want?

  2. #2

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    Good Question.

    Personal philosophy gives the answer of yes to this question.

    However, Locke and Hobbes would say no. Personal want is the bases of natural law, but social covenant uplift the basic need to social order. By just being born into a society you become bound to the social law unless you can make a large enough group to move for change of the law.

    As one can see in current news and events, it does not have to be a majority, but a significant minority to cause such changes.

  3. #3

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    Even as a matter of fact, there are laws we have to obey.

    You are correct that we have freedom because soldiers have died for our freedom but there are certain extents we have to follow. Some good, some...just plain stupid.

    I look at the points of affiliating to a certain right that should be double-checked when we all follow certain aspects of rules.

    If there were no rules, then the world would be chaos.

  4. #4

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    In practice, I think human rights mean that we have inalienable rights to be free from persecution, not be subject to brutality or torture, not to be found guilty without a trial, and things which essentially protect us from being exploited. Of course, certain 'exploitations' of a sort do happen, some of it legal - like very low minimum wages in many parts of the world - and some of it illegal - like sex trafficking.

    In theory, human rights gives you personal freedom, but the issue is that sometimes exercising one's own personal freedom compromises the essential human rights of another individual. For example, if someone in power tried to use their 'complete freedom' to convict a person without trial, they'd be undermining even the most basic human rights of another individual.

    I think because society and ideas of morality differ significantly across the globe, it's hard to find agreement on what should constitute a person's human rights. Indeed, in regimes like North Korea's, there's a belief from the higher-ups that their expertise/position/experience allows them to curtail someone else's human rights in what they perceive to be a wider national interest (e.g. - stopping citizens from leaving the country).

    Theoretically, human rights should allow us freedom, but individuals should be careful that they don't use that freedom to compromise the essential rights of others. Sadly, selfishness, cruelty and corruption all mean that we need laws which people are legally required to follow, as a deterrent for compromising the lives/property/rights of others.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    [...]

    Long story short: Can I assume that, as a creature born of the universe, I have the cosmic right to do anything I want?
    Technically, yes! Anything that you can do...

    Should you do anything you want? ...is something of another question... and our friends above, and likely to follow... have explained some of the considerations, and associated perils of doing such...

    Soldiers have fought for your (expression of) societal rights of your particular country (without undue retribution)...

    Yet, we are born with intrinsic rights... and those rights incur consequences and responsibilities too... so, express, and exercise what you will... knowing the results may be as unfavorable to you, as any other...

    No-one is an island unto themselves...

    -Marka

  6. #6

    Default

    Rights are determined by the political authority of the various countries. In some countries men have certain rights over women and, to some extent, women in those countries can be dealt with as if they were some kind of property. The western world professes a belief in gender equality and this belief is reflected in the rights it grants. In other words, every country determines for itself what human rights are within it's borders.

    Sometimes countries are accused of violating human rights as if human rights exist in some form outside of the laws of that country. If this is true I would like to know where or how these rights exist. Or is it simply a matter of the more powerful countries determining for everyone what their human rights are? I tend to believe the latter. The ruling authority determines human rights. Might makes right. What we see as inalienable, intrinsic, natural, or basic human rights are nothing more than human emotion.

    Of course, when used collectively, emotional pressure can cause the authority to change one way or the other, but the bottom line is still that human rights are based solely on human feelings. Another way to look at it is that human rights actually do exist because our beliefs create them. The same can be said of the concept of good and evil.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drifter View Post
    Sometimes countries are accused of violating human rights as if human rights exist in some form outside of the laws of that country. If this is true I would like to know where or how these rights exist. Or is it simply a matter of the more powerful countries determining for everyone what their human rights are? I tend to believe the latter.
    The UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) essentially have the role of deciding on human rights which can reasonably translate across the globe. Obviously that means they can't do much about things like the living wage or homelessness, because these are problems which exist on different scales in different countries, and are affected by a variety of other legal and socioeconomic factors.

    However, the UNHCR (which I think has about 49 member states, many of them not powerful countries, but the vast majority of them essentially democratic) legislates over things like slavery, people trafficking and the right to be free from persecution. The issue is though, that whilst a diverse proportions of national governments and a wide range of regional ethnicities are represented in creating these laws, countries like Zimbabwe have become established members of the UNHCR - and unsurprisingly, Mugabe's regime seem to think the rules don't apply to them.

  8. #8

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    Yes, thanks. The UN does have some influence but not a lot of authority, yet. If we do manage to put together an authority to enforce global human rights it will no doubt be based on democratic principles, which would make it somewhat liberal. Being liberal means it would have some tolerance for differing religious views and different forms of government. Some countries have governments that are strongly guided by religious beliefs. Sooner or later we will have to confront the issue of whether or not human rights necessarily means equal rights.

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