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RoofGardener

Human Rights: do they exist ?

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This conversation overflowed from a debate about the middle east, which can be found here. http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=265754&st=105#entry5171168

In a nutshell; do Human Rights exist as some sort of "higher" or "natural" super-law; something that exists beyond mere local legislation ?

I argue that Human Rights are just another human law, and only exist when a specific government legislates to include them in their body of law.

Others argue that they go beyond this, and exist independently of nation states.

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This conversation overflowed from a debate about the middle east, which can be found here. http://www.unexplain...05#entry5171168

In a nutshell; do Human Rights exist as some sort of "higher" or "natural" super-law; something that exists beyond mere local legislation ?

I argue that Human Rights are just another human law, and only exist when a specific government legislates to include them in their body of law.

Others argue that they go beyond this, and exist independently of nation states.

As I mentioned in the earlier thread, I think scripture hints at rules of behavior that could be construed as rights for all human beings but I know of nothing codified universally. Sadly, the only guarantee we have of consistently being respected by others is through threat of force. Ask anyone who was in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina or in a blackout in a major northeastern city.

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Human rights are as effective as the governing body enforcing them.

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This conversation overflowed from a debate about the middle east, which can be found here. http://www.unexplain...05#entry5171168

In a nutshell; do Human Rights exist as some sort of "higher" or "natural" super-law; something that exists beyond mere local legislation ?

I argue that Human Rights are just another human law, and only exist when a specific government legislates to include them in their body of law.

Others argue that they go beyond this, and exist independently of nation states.

A Right is defined in the dictionary as that which is morally correct, just, or honorable. Obviously, laws don't always meet these criteria. So rights aren't laws. Laws may protect rights or they may infringe upon them.

In the US Constitution, rights are explicitly endowed by our creator. While one may have their own ideas of what that creator may be, they can't have the idea that it's the government. The government didn't create us; we created it.

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Posted (edited)

A Right is defined in the dictionary as that which is morally correct, just, or honorable. Obviously, laws don't always meet these criteria. So rights aren't laws. Laws may protect rights or they may infringe upon them.

Ahhh... Yamato, isn't that the definition of "Right" - the adjective - as opposed to "A Right" - the noun ?

For example:

"It is right that we have a Party ! "

(Meaning: it is morally correct, just and honorable for us to have a party)

"We have to fight..

for our Right....

To Paaaaarteeeeeeee"

(Meaning: we have an endowed entitlement to quote annoying pop lyrics)

In the US Constitution, rights are explicitly endowed by our creator. While one may have their own ideas of what that creator may be, they can't have the idea that it's the government. The government didn't create us; we created it.

Actually... I think that's the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution ?

Benjamin Franklin[/url], Thomas Jefferson , Robert R. Livingston , Roger Sherman"]

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Possibly one of the most powerful and moving sentences every written.

But here's a thing... 75% of the drafters where lawyers or judges. The DoI was a legal document.

So the Law comes first, and Human Rights later, and as a consequence of the Law and the Government.

Edited by RoofGardener
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Like all abstractions, rights exist only to the extent that people believe they do.

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Why of course "human rights" don't exist, never have. I've yet to come across a good definition as to what "human rights" are and who defines what these "rights" are. Generally the one or ones that define such are the ones "in control" and what the deluded society believes are "rights" are simply the ones they are allowed to have to believe in. Control the minds, you control the society and what they "think they have or should have".

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Posted (edited)

Why of course "human rights" don't exist, never have. I've yet to come across a good definition as to what "human rights" are and who defines what these "rights" are. Generally the one or ones that define such are the ones "in control" and what the deluded society believes are "rights" are simply the ones they are allowed to have to believe in. Control the minds, you control the society and what they "think they have or should have".

I tend to agree. Like all abstract, subjective and arbitrary terms, "human rights" doesn't really exist as a thing in and of itself.

We only have rights because someone else says so. This is not to mean that it is therefore ok to be abusive and all that because from a logical standpoint, it is a major impediment to the relatively smooth functioning of society.

Think of it, all the laws and rights we have were granted us by someone else. If it wasn't for those stipulations we would undoubtedly still be living in a horrendously chaotic society; I doubt we'd even HAVE a society if there were not guidelines on how people are treated and what "rights" they can, within reason, exercise.

Some try to use religion as a way to define "rights" yet even at that oft, times other peoples "rights" are violated or ignored when they become inconvenient for someone else.

So.."rights", just like other abstract terms like "beauty" don't have a reality except in the minds of either a singular person or a collective.

P.S: I just got up so my mind is not functioning at full capacity yet.

Edited by Ryu

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Not bad for just wakin' up. Been up, oh, what, about 3 days, not tryin' to but with my "illness" pl;us the meds, Hell I am lucky to "cat nap" for more that 30 min. at a time durin' a 24 hr. period. BTW, 7:35 AM here, so looks like it's coffee time and more meds. Happy for the coffee, the meds. , well. frankly, they "suck". Hang in there!!!

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Good discussion.

I agree that rights are abstract and intangible, but a human construct.

So are the other side of the coin, powers delegated to the government by We The People when forming the government.

Rights and powers, 2 abstract notions, but both very real.

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Not bad for just wakin' up. Been up, oh, what, about 3 days, not tryin' to but with my "illness" pl;us the meds, Hell I am lucky to "cat nap" for more that 30 min. at a time durin' a 24 hr. period. BTW, 7:35 AM here, so looks like it's coffee time and more meds. Happy for the coffee, the meds. , well. frankly, they "suck". Hang in there!!!

Heh..thanks. I am sorry to hear of your illness. Sounds really yucky.

You know..when you think of it, even kids don't really have any "rights" unless the parents and society around them says so.

It is only because of laws that we are allowed to even defend ourselves in a reasonable manner, from things like assaults, thefts or discrimination.

If it wasn't for legislation then anyone could, for example, be denied employment based on appearance, race, gender. You could be denied a fair trial, denied housing; you could have your assets seized without reason, you could be sold into slavery to pay off a family's debt..the list goes on.

All of that typically doesn't occur because of legislation that stipulates our "rights".

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Rights are created by the law. Or as Jeremy Bentham said;

"That which has no existence cannot be destroyed — that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense — nonsense upon stilts."

http://en.wikiquote..../Jeremy_Bentham

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So the Law comes first, and Human Rights later, and as a consequence of the Law and the Government.

Then the most powerful and moving sentence ever written isn't even moving you to comprehend what it says, the acknowledgement that we're endowed by our Creator. You only have to read past the statement:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So rule of law is created and struck down and created again in the process of securing those rights. Which don't cease to exist in the midst of those usurpations. When governments fail to do secure our rights, which experience shows is quite often, that is the reason to reject them and throw them off. All experience up to that point had shewn that people were disposed to suffer infringement of their rights rather than throwing them off. And when there's a long chain of abuses it is their right and duty to throw that abusive government out. We don't start bringing out the minutia and the ethnicity and the differences between groups and the emotions involved in their issues when we decide whether or not to apply this principle. Mankind is all inclusive.

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A Right is defined in the dictionary as that which is morally correct, just, or honorable. Obviously, laws don't always meet these criteria. So rights aren't laws. Laws may protect rights or they may infringe upon them.

In the US Constitution, rights are explicitly endowed by our creator. While one may have their own ideas of what that creator may be, they can't have the idea that it's the government. The government didn't create us; we created it.

Yes, such truths whereof I trust in God do I, also, hold self-evident.

But, for those whom would unthinkingly surrender such rights--

deny / deprive themselves / others such rights--

I attest human rights the decency one should have to respect decency itself,

i.e. mercifully honor one another as beings with the same basic, human needs.

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Rights are created by the law. Or as Jeremy Bentham said;

"That which has no existence cannot be destroyed — that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense — nonsense upon stilts."

http://en.wikiquote..../Jeremy_Bentham

I can see it both ways. Bentham is correct, but if we are going to include in our political rhetoric talk of "government of laws, not men", then certainly include an abstract solidity for the rights of man.

If we are going to engage in fantasies such as democracy and such, shouldn't we engage in a fantasy in which men have rights?

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If we are going to engage in fantasies such as democracy and such, shouldn't we engage in a fantasy in which men have rights?

Sounds good, but like many other philosophical ideas, the Devil's in the details. Rights for men? Based on what, landowner status, race, gender, age, cognitive ability?

In 1792, the British feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

From Wiki; "The work also provoked outright hostility." Thomas Taylor "swiftly wrote a satire called A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes: if women have rights, why not animals too?"

Good question, although no one took either propositions seriously in the 18th century.

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Posted (edited)

Then the most powerful and moving sentence ever written isn't even moving you to comprehend what it says...

RoofGardener has comprehended very well what the sentence from the D.o.I. states.

The rights that sentence establish as 'unalienably endowed' cannot be recognised without the framework of law existing to do so. Thus law must precede rights. That the sentence implies those rights are "creator endowed" is completely irrelevant to that.

Edited by Leonardo
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Posted (edited)

Let laws change. I'll die answering to God,

for what is at stake is human decency itself.

Edited by aka CAT
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Posted (edited)

Then the most powerful and moving sentence ever written isn't even moving you to comprehend what it says, the acknowledgement that we're endowed by our Creator. You only have to read past the statement:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So rule of law is created and struck down and created again in the process of securing those rights. Which don't cease to exist in the midst of those usurpations. When governments fail to do secure our rights, which experience shows is quite often, that is the reason to reject them and throw them off. All experience up to that point had shewn that people were disposed to suffer infringement of their rights rather than throwing them off. And when there's a long chain of abuses it is their right and duty to throw that abusive government out. We don't start bringing out the minutia and the ethnicity and the differences between groups and the emotions involved in their issues when we decide whether or not to apply this principle. Mankind is all inclusive.

Oh, I understand that part of the pre-amble, I just don't necessarily agree with it. For example, if these "natural rights" where granted by the Creator, then... WHICH creator ? YHWH and Allah give VERY different definitions of Human Rights.... indeed... even who is counted as human.

Neither of the above include a human right to good governance. The Zoroastranian tradition, however, DOES.

So who's Rights are Right ?

As for the idea that Human Rights "don't cease to exist in the midst of those usurpations...", well... I dunno Yamato. I think the current residents of Damascus and Alepo might disagree with you there. Surely revolution is when human rights are at their greatest risk ?

And WHY are they at their greatest risk ?

Because the law has broken down.

And without law, there are no human rights.

Edited by RoofGardener
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Posted (edited)

Oh, I understand that part of the pre-amble, I just don't necessarily agree with it. For example, if these "natural rights" where granted by the Creator, then... WHICH creator ? YHWH and Allah give VERY different definitions of Human Rights.... indeed... even who is counted as human.

There is but one God, even if mongers of war would twist the Sixth Commandment,

“Thou shalt not kill," to rationalize mass murder.

Neither of the above include a human right to good governance. The Zoroastranian tradition, however, DOES.
Which, in view of your conclusion, is neither here nor there.
So who's Rights are Right ? [...]Surely revolution is when human rights are at their greatest risk ?

And WHY are they at their greatest risk ?

Because the law has broken down.

In deed, which is why I spent many years as an activist, resisting corruption,

only to discover how easily grass roots movements are either deceptively headed in the first place or pirated.

And without law, there are no human rights.
There will always be human rights as far as I'm concerned.

It is because I’ll never stoop to the level of those whom would do anything to play God

that I’ll continue to both trust in divine justice and treat my fellows as equals.

Edited by aka CAT

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The rights that sentence establish as 'unalienably endowed' cannot be recognised without the framework of law existing to do so. Thus law must precede rights. That the sentence implies those rights are "creator endowed" is completely irrelevant to that.

The law must precede rights in practice, not in existence.

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Oh, I understand that part of the pre-amble, I just don't necessarily agree with it. For example, if these "natural rights" where granted by the Creator, then... WHICH creator ? YHWH and Allah give VERY different definitions of Human Rights.... indeed... even who is counted as human.

Neither of the above include a human right to good governance. The Zoroastranian tradition, however, DOES.

So who's Rights are Right ?

As for the idea that Human Rights "don't cease to exist in the midst of those usurpations...", well... I dunno Yamato. I think the current residents of Damascus and Alepo might disagree with you there. Surely revolution is when human rights are at their greatest risk ?

And WHY are they at their greatest risk ?

Because the law has broken down.

And without law, there are no human rights.

Which creator can be any creator. We don't do religion in the US govt because of the Establishment Clause, so this works quite well for us. If I think the creator is the universe, or an epic chemistry experiment, those work just as well.

The law comes in later to secure many rights and likely infringe upon them in the process as well.

I don't know if the implication you're making is that rights don't exist, but why would anyone believe that there is nothing honorable, just and morally upright in the world? Thank you, no.

At least until some law exists first! Really? This is giving credit where no credit is due. But from where does this wellspring of faith in government come from? Do bureaucrats sitting around a table in some office decide what our rights are for us? Do our Congressmen do that? Perhaps we should ask them?

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The law must precede rights in practice, not in existence.

When rights are not recognised in law, is there any difference whether they exist or not? And if there is no difference, then 'rights' do not have any objective existence outside the law which defines them.

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Sounds good, but like many other philosophical ideas, the Devil's in the details. Rights for men? Based on what, landowner status, race, gender, age, cognitive ability?

In 1792, the British feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

From Wiki; "The work also provoked outright hostility." Thomas Taylor "swiftly wrote a satire called A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes: if women have rights, why not animals too?"

Good question, although no one took either propositions seriously in the 18th century.

Sorry, the language wasn't quite right. I was not trying to be gender specific. I meant the rights of man as in the rights of the species.

We all have them, no matter gender, no matter social status, no matter wealth. HUMAN rights is a better term.

We have them by virtue of having been born human.

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There is but one God, even if mongers of war would twist the Sixth Commandment,

“Thou shalt not kill," to rationalize mass murder.

You know, it is strange but when I read the parables in the bible, god seems to do an awful lot of killing or ordering killings. Just an observation

We have them by virtue of having been born human.

Just out of curiosity, how does being human automatically translate into having rights?

From that standpoint then all humans, regardless of where they live, should have the same rights yet it has been repeatedly demonstrated that this is not the case.

Again..I am not saying that we shouldn't have rights but when you are born, your chances of surviving depends on the laws that are in place. Otherwise there is nothing there to say that you deserve to live because of a vague concept.

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