Rights: Natural, Equal, Universal

Discussion in 'Education' started by midcan5, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    Often on USMB and other sites the question over whether rights are natural or created causes great debate. Starting points are difficult as primitive women didn't bother writing down how they handled rights at the dawn of consciousness. Lynn Hunt's view is they evolved as womankind evolved. (I use 'evolve' tentatively.) An interesting perspective as it challenges the nature argument with interesting analyzes of the changes, which then leads me to the question how do societies address rights: separately or even differently. And that leads me to how we judge other societies etc etc. Review of book is below.


    American Horse, this touches on our discussion of the creation of the individual and what that meant.


    Review by Gordon S. Wood

    "The 18th-century American and French declarations unleashed “an implacable logic” that expanded rights to all sorts of individuals and groups, including Jews and other members of minority religions, slaves and women. In the 19th century, however, rights became attached to particular nations and ethnicities, and they lost much of their equal and universal character. “It took two devastating world wars,” Hunt writes, “to shatter this confidence in the nation.”

    Only following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which “crystallized 150 years of struggle,” did rights once again come to dominate the conscience of much of the world. Human rights, Hunt concludes, have now become “our only commonly shared bulwark” against the brutalities and cruelties that still afflict much of humanity."


    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/08/books/review/Wood2.t.html?_r=1&ref=review

    [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Inventing-Human-Rights-Lynn-Hunt/dp/0393331997/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259805588&sr=1-3]Amazon.com: Inventing Human Rights: A History (9780393331998): Lynn Hunt: Books[/ame]
     
  2. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    Rights are granted by others or seized by power moves.
    None are natural, etc. Just rights you have or do not have.
     
  3. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    Uscitizen, how goes it?

    So nothing changes and rights are really static? If so then why all the change through the years? And if there is change which I think you'll admit, why?
     
  4. Polk
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    Polk Classic

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    Interesting topic.
     
  5. Samson
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    Samson Póg Mo Thóin Supporting Member

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    [ame=http://www.amazon.com/Inventing-Human-Rights-Lynn-Hunt/dp/0393331997/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259805588&sr=1-3]Amazon.com: Inventing Human Rights: A History (9780393331998): Lynn Hunt: Books[/ame][/QUOTE]

    "Inventing Human Rights?"

    I'm not sure if Hunt, or the NYT reviewer is more ridiculous. I suspect both would qualify, particularly in light of the idiotic contradictions in the short quote above.

    Let's first examine the misnomer "Universal" Declaration of Human Rights. As there remains "Brutalities and Cruelties that still affect Humanity" doesn't the "universiality" become more than a little incredulous? How have Human Rights "dominated the conscience" of anyone outside the NYT, much less the world?

    When we talk about "Our only COMMONLY shared bulwork," aside from being redundent (if its "Ours" then it must be "commonly shared"), who is Hunt talking about? Me and Hunt?Humanity?

    Is anyone so naive as to believe that because "Universiality" is declared then it is automatically accepted by every single Human, or even every single human culture? Is it even accepted by everyone that declared it (whoever that might have been)?

    So, here is what I suspect (I could be wrong):

    Some sadly-overeducated-but-under-experience acamedian has imagined that the entire planet is just like Princeton, or Harvard, or ________(pick your favorite Ivy League School). Ignoring the fact than this microcosim represents a highly ideal model, they have applied the local model of Human Rights to every other human on earth. As long as our hypothetical Ivory Tower dweller remains sequestered within the musings of the NYT, they are safe.....or, I should say, we are safe.

    However, our country's leaders read the NYT.....worse, they are influanced by the voting public that reads the NYT and may actually agree with the fairy tale that there are commonly held concepts of "Human Rights!":cuckoo:
     
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    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  6. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    If something is good for humans shouldn't it be universal for humans? And simply because it might be opposed by political regimes, does that make it less good or that it shouldn't be regarded as a universal good?
     
  7. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    "Human rights, Hunt concludes, have now become “our only commonly shared bulwark” against the brutalities and cruelties that still afflict much of humanity.""

    Our son lived in Princeton, we still go there often, and yes, it would be nice if more of the world were like Princeton, but I think you miss the point with your cynicism. Academics don't operate in a vacuum, there is real life out there and any view of the middle ages to today must demonstrate that progress has happened even with all the bumps. Steven Pinker even argues we are less violent today. Maybe we look too closely at our times and assume the dangers represent a sort of hopelessness for humankind, but law and rights and especially individual rights in the West have had great impact. The changes needed for the rest of the world may take longer than our limited vision allows. I remain a bit hopeful.

    Edge: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE By Steven Pinker


    "Life can be seen through many windows, none of them necessarily clear or opaque, less or more distorting than any of the others." Winston Churchill
     
  8. Samson
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    Samson Póg Mo Thóin Supporting Member

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    Food is Good for Humans.

    So, Cannibalism is Good?

    See, there is no such thing as "Universally accepted "Good," or "Human Right's." Its a fairy tale

    I think you may also hope there is a Santa Clause.

    And your Churchillian Quote is quite .........appropriate, given he was the creator of Iraq, an excellent example of where the Princeton Academic Idealisms and Good Intensions have lead the United States down the Road to Hell.

    "The changes needed for the rest of the world may take longer than our limited vision allows".....Did Herbert Walker Bush learn this at Princeton?

    Unhappily, Even though you say, "Academians don't operate in a vacuum," they don't really operate in the REAL WORLD either: Human rights are NOT "univeral" or "common," regardless of how much you, or anyone else wishes them to be. In fact, what has been, and IS much more common is the antithesis.

    Furthermore, there is very little proof that without the fragile existance of civilization, even Princeton would not become "Brutish" (in fact, I'd like to attend a Fraturnity Party or two, just to sample some of the Human Rights that flourish among the Ivory Towers).
     
  9. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    I don't know if food has a moral quality but it's certainly necessary for our survival.

    Cannibalism is a reasonable response where people live in an area where there isn't much protein. It's probably more polite to eat your enemies than your friends though.

    But back to the point. If we know something is good in that it's beneficial for humans, say the concept of individual liberty, then surely we can say that it should be available for all humans?
     
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  10. Samson
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    Hmmmmm.....Individual Liberty ISN'T "available" to all humans? Like who?

    But, like cannibalism, and what is "Good," it is the Moral Relativists that make it impossible to define. Which is somewhat ironic because many of these Moral Relativists are the same people that declare that there are Commonly Held, even Universal, Human Rights.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009

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