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Hypothetical question - Minority rights

  1. May 14, 2007 #1
    Well, I've grown an interest in the meaning of minority rights, and I'm trying to understand this term a little better.

    Under which case, or what are the guidelines for determining when, an action decided upon by the majority is illegal for the reason of removing minority rights?

    Let me sharpen the question.
    It is quite obvious that the majority cannot take a decision to murder an individual (by murder I mean kill without reason like self defense or capital punishment - an innocent man).
    I'm interested in more subtle situations.

    For example, let's say that a certain strike is decided upon by an organization of some sort. Now assume that one of the members of this organization is expected to lose money, as an individual and with no power to change it, as a result of said strike. Can this strike be declared illegal for removing some kind of right for the above person?

    If not, then what would be a general borderline for such a declaration?

    Even if you're not sure, I'd love to hear opinions and any kind of discussion regarding this subject.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2007 #2
    In this case I would say no. We do not have a right or guarantee to profits, but we do have a right to pursue profits. If the minority (individual) loses his money in a fair market, then none of his rights have been violated. He should consider it lucky that his dissenting voice was heard.

    If you believe in absolute rights, then the majority can never compromise the rights of any minority "legally". The American government, for example, pretends to believe in absolute rights but often legislates laws that remove minority rights.

    If we cannot agree on any absolute rights, then we must do away with rightousness and deservedness - they become grotesque delusions.

    In any given situation our rights and the consequences of them being violated are part of the social contract we implicitly or explicitly agreed to with the other parties.
  4. May 14, 2007 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Joining a labor union is a choice, so that isn't a valid example.

    It really is the intent of the Constitution that the rights of individuals can't be trumped by a vote of the majority.
  5. May 15, 2007 #4
    I see your point.

    I couldn't extract your opinion here: do you or do you not believe in absolute rights?

    Fair enough: you've convinced me. But now, just for the sake of argument, say the above union decides to organize a rally or a protest, as a result of which an only access to location x is blocked (location x being public). Can this rally now be declared illegal?

    Based on a real scenario, by the way. I'm not just making this one up.
  6. May 18, 2007 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes! This is a common scenario. This is Canadian, but same diff:
  7. May 18, 2007 #6
    Very interesting. I'm starting to get this whole 'minority rights' concept.
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