The rights to be harmonious

  1. Can human rights in general be mutually compatible?
  2. jcsd
  3. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Is that a complete sentence? It certainly isn't a complete thought. Please provide a real OP as per the PF guidelines otherwise this thread will be locked.
  4. Can human rights be mutually compatible when applied to all people?... I doubt it... they don't really exist you know? If not that, then like Russ I'm stumped as to what you're asking or saying.
  5. Is it possible that human rights for some (the right to food, for instance) ever be fulfilled without interference to the human rights of others (the right to medical care, for instance) - that is, despite lack of resources? Even advanced nations have enough difficulty defending their own constitutions. Are human rights realized through money, will, law or other means?
  6. This strikes me as something for the Philosophy forum, not politics and world affairs.

  7. Not as long as people think they have a right to something someone else produced, like food or medical care. If people only exercised true rights, like the right to be free to procure their own food, or the right to their own labor so they can pay for medical care, yes they can, imo.
  8. No. The only kind of rights that can be mutually compatible are natural rights, since their existence doesn't depend on the servitude of others.
  9. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    Meh, take it as a simple question with the most far-reaching possibilities. Since human physiology is not significantly different from region to region we would expect that the same types of stimuli cause similar reactions.

    People prefer to be fed than starved. People prefer to be able to speak than to be silenced. People prefer to have fun, listen to music, and share ideas! People generally do not enjoy being beaten, abused, or killed.

    In a grand sense, yes! There really is no reason for human rights to be fundamentally incompatible with each other.
  10. Everyone is free to define anything as a right... who decides which is a right? You immediately run into problems the moment you try to do anything in this model. You can feed everyone, but do you have good surgeons for them? Good teachers? A safe environment? Who gets to live in which spot?

    The moment conflict emerges, and is solved, you're just back at 'go'.
  11. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    Well, let's not speak in terms of "rights." The word has too many connotations. Let's rephrase the question a little more clearly:

    "Is it possible to invent a social construct which maximizes well-being in individuals?"​

    I would instantly argue that "well-being" isn't as subjective as it used to be. If someone can't tell you if they're happy, then throw them in an MRI; you can figure it out pretty easily.

    Imagine a huge multi-dimensional topology where each axis is a different input variable. For example, one input could be "women beaten" with a range from never beaten to constantly beaten with some conditional nuance to the other values (i.e. only beaten if disrespectful to a man).

    Yes, the topology would be varied and the peaks and valleys may show no discernible pattern, but no one could claim "there is nothing to be said here." You could then use the strongest contributing variables to form the "rights" of humans. For example, the "right to continue to live." This would seem to be a deciding factor in our topology of human well-being; so let's make it a human right.
  12. mheslep

    mheslep 3,409
    Gold Member

    I think the American Declaration of Independence is the best first stop for a reference on the topic. The rights enumerated there - life, liberty, pursuit of happiness - are mutually compatible with the same rights held by others. They are realized by the mere fact of being human, that is, granted by the creator, not by human law or government dictate. As soon as one expands the notion of 'rights' to something that must be granted in part by other people - food, housing, vacation at the beach - then immediately those rights necessarily i) become incompatible as my clamoring for you to make my food conflicts with your right to vacation, ii) require a third party institution to be stood up (typically governmental) compelling A to fulfill the rights of B, but at any time that institution can at any later time deny they exist and take them away.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  13. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    Wow, what a great distinction!! I disagree with the reference to a creator, so I'll see if I can simplify your distinction.

    Rights must be implicit in the existence of the individual and can never guarantee action or material.

    You cannot say someone has the "right to food" since it isn't implicit in the person's existence. However the "right to free thought" is! The "right not to be hidden in a cloth bag" is another good one.
  14. mheslep

    mheslep 3,409
    Gold Member

    Heh, ok, apparently so does the US President, as he is known to drop that term when quoting the American Declaration.

    Yes I agree that construction also provides a compatible set of rights when shared equally among individuals. But I have a problem with it, and this a digression from the OP so it need not go further; your construction alone doesn't get to why those rights obtain to the individual. History is well populated with examples showing that, given the chance and self-indulgence, person A will claim person B has no intrinsic rights whatsoever, that B exists only to serve A.
  15. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    That's an ugly trap you're setting. The argument should be that these rights are implicit. Not that we need to rely on some external source to validate them. It's actually kind of a sickening idea that we need permission (either from a real entity or fictional) to endow ourselves with rights.

    I'm afraid we don't see eye-to-eye on this point at all.
  16. mheslep

    mheslep 3,409
    Gold Member

    As I thought we might, that is why in my second post I dropped discussion of my personal motivation (which was also the US Declaration's), but asked you to explain your reason 'why'. We've had hundreds of generations of human civilization all the way to King George (and beyond) wherein it was common to believe individuals had no rights whatsoever without the blessing of an anointed few. So again, when you say the rights "should be ... implicit", why?
  17. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    Well, I think you're trying to define the axiom with the resultant proof. We're starting with the idea that we should have rights and moving from there to "which rights" and "who should have them?" If we're going to grant the existence of personal rights, then I don't think they should be contingent on something external. Specifically something (a belief) that 1) might not be shared by all, 2) could be considered "transient" or "malleable", or worse, 3) be the basis for faction fighting.

    "Why should rights be implicit?" Because any other foundation can't provide the requisite stability.
  18. mheslep

    mheslep 3,409
    Gold Member

    Well in my view rights are bestowed eternally to all, whether they agree with my philosophy or not. But as you say lets drop this line on my view.

    Couple problems there. First, on stability the historical evidence is of course the opposite, that empires like the Roman's existed for centuries, for a good part of it with the most stability seen in Europe before or since. And I do include today. A Roman citizen during Pax Romana could walk from one end of the continent to the other in near absolute certainty that they would not be robbed or molested in any way. Most Europeans - West Asians of that era assumed no implicit rights; they assumed that all the world was ruled by Ceasar, that's the way it nearly always had been and always would be. Second, if you say that a modern day Roman dictatorship would be unstable because people would insist on their rights to life, liberty, pursuit ..., then you are begging the question, simply asserting the initial point again that rights should be implicit, therefore they are. So again, why should rights be implicit?
  19. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    That seems to be more the purview of enforcement, not deciding whether or not a universal set of human rights could (or does) exist.

    Because contingency guarantees exceptions.
  20. re bold: Amen.

    I agree that the Roman example is one of the structure which supports and administers the business end of those rights, not a problem with the structure of rights themselves. I also agree that no rights exist, but that we can work to some from 'the golden rule' and foresight.

    I don't agree that they're implicit in the human condition however, anymore than a hydrogen cloud has rights. Even if mheslep's personal view is correct, there's an eternal force to care for matters except for this brief period we call life, and the source is something. Flex, you and I seem to agree that rights are constructions, and simply the best we can manage, not an implicit function of being a person.
  21. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    The question was "why should rights be implicit?"

    I'm not attempting to frame the list of rights, or argue for a specific implementation, and I can't tell you how to enforce them!

    But if you want universal rights, they can't be "based" on some set of conditions. They certainly can't be on loan from an arguably-existent deity. And they definitely can't rely on cultural and social structures for security.

    If you want "harmonious" (to use the OP's word) human rights, then the only pre-condition that they apply to you must be that you are vaguely a member of homo sapiens. I'm sorry, but leasing them from the god du jour isn't sufficient. All it takes is someone who doesn't ascribe to your ideology to make these rights non-universal.
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