Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category
I have always been uneasy with the language of human rights. It seems to me to put the focus entirely and selfishly on the individual: my rights which I must assert. I would much rather that we spoke about responsibilities (which was, I think, probably closer to the intention behind the Universal Declaration, to be fair). We have responsibilities to one other, individually and in society as a whole: responsibilities to ensure that everyone is fed, clothed and housed; that everyone is treated fairly and justly; to protect those who are vulnerable and so on.
I just came across this paper, which seems to be to be an excellent illustration of some of the problems associated with the notion of human rights. Once you acknowledge one right, say the right to life, then that opens the door to a whole host of other associated freedoms, which can be asserted as rights. As the author says, ‘to realize the right to life we need other rights. ‘ In the (not wholly persuasive) logic of the article, he concludes that this means we need the right to ultimate self-expression, to pursue happiness whatever that entails, to demand whatever we want of our healthcare providers (abortions, gender reassignment, and even euthanasia). The right to life, apparently, entails the right to death.