'You either have rights or you don't...'

How should society be organised, if at all?

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marjoram_blues
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'You either have rights or you don't...'

Post by marjoram_blues » Wed May 13, 2015 12:46 pm

First off - I come to this topic via my conversation with Yoni - the author of the PN article 'Derrida's Performance'; see Tuesday, May 12th, 6.52pm. Together with my reading of Tory plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, I'm increasingly concerned re Y's suggestion that '...You either have rights or you don't [just like sentences can have a truth value]. There is no real commitment to the subjects involved...'

I'd love it if any interested someone could discuss the views and consequences of their chosen philosopher(s)- possibly combined with their own experience. Preferably with respect to 'contemporary issues' in the area of human rights. Pick any one you like, not necessarily the UK issue.
How can a 'philosophy of human rights' - or a 'philosophy of language' - help us understand or cope with a human rights crisis? What do you consider a 'human rights crisis' ?
Are we more likely to change current structures due to our increasing knowledge, awareness and ability to communicate immediately via twitter, youtube, internet chat. Philosophy Inaction v Public in Action ?

If Derrida is your man, can you explain what/how he would have us think of human rights in 'another configuration...where we think of humans via their productive/performance presence...another structure of knowledge concerning the being human and its relation to the human being' - Yoni.

If you think Derrida is cool, think of his words as spoken by a debutante from Devon called Daphne. She would be laughed outta town.

---------

Guardian NEWSFLASH: Another change to legislation - to protect the likes of Prince Charles...
Ministers are planning to amend Freedom of Information legislation to strengthen the ability of the government to veto the publication of documents, in the light of the supreme court’s “black spider” ruling saying some of Prince Charles’s letters to Whitehall departments much be published.
So, Charlie has rights, that's good, right?

--------

Background info re human rights and the UK situation:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights-human/
Human rights are norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses. Examples of human rights are the right to freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial when charged with a crime, the right not to be tortured, and the right to engage in political activity. These rights exist in morality and in law at the national and international levels...

The philosophy of human rights addresses questions about the existence, content, nature, universality, justification, and legal status of human rights. The strong claims made on behalf of human rights (for example, that they are universal, or that they exist independently of legal enactment as justified moral norms) frequently provoke skeptical doubts and countering philosophical defences (on these critiques see Waldron 1988 and the entry on rights). Reflection on these doubts and the responses that can be made to them has become a sub-field of political and legal philosophy with a substantial literature (see the Bibliography below)...
http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/may ... ens-speech
The Tory manifesto outlined a clear commitment to scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act and curtail the role of the European court of human rights
It promised to break the link between British courts and the European court of human rights. It promised to limit the use of human rights laws to the most serious cases and it promised to limit their reach to the UK so, for example, British armed forces overseas were not subject to human rights claims.
Yet it gave no indication as to how this partial withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the European convention on human rights might be achieved nor did it take into account the possible reaction from the Council of Europe, which oversees it.

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hammock
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Re: 'You either have rights or you don't...'

Post by hammock » Thu May 14, 2015 1:39 am

The earliest semblances of "rights" couldn't be much more than part of a minimum system which hunter-gatherer groups or ancient farming communities came up with to make their organizations functional. If that was so deficient that an average member had lesser significance than a Chief or a Priest, got tortured and had his hand chopped-off for stealing without a trial, then so be it. Even if those peoples believed that there was something antecedent to their reality, which the was source of their rules and which properties this or that human supposedly possessed, the elite could use their biased knowledge claims about that domain to as much justify acts of cruelty (which political / religious systems throughout later history did).

But still, the consequence of eliminating a transcendent level is that the rejection leaves all life as unimportant residue, resting under the remaining machine-god's (Nature's) shadow of indifference. Which is to say that the nice thing about a Kantian version of the former is that the admitted incapacity to verify anything about it at least still permitted that possibility of even a blank territory, for which what is deemed necessary could still be projected upon it in practical fashion by a more ethically advanced, less savage era. Since whatever is "deemed necessary" (especially in some context like moral realism) is often embarrassingly absent from the phenomenal realm which science studies and theorizes about.

As it stands today..."Human rights" or "rights for all rational agents" are simply social contracts or group-agreements reliant upon a host of persuasive tactics for recruiting blocs of people to partake membership in them. Utilizing philosophical arguments, rhetoric, emotional appeals, drummed-up personal fears, threats of boycotting, promotion of a "shaming status" to be stamped upon those who refuse to jump on the ideological bandwagon carrying the pact, etc. Such formal declarations derive their power from those clans and governments which "sign" the "contract" and try to obey it. Not from invisible moral agencies which pervade space, don't even bother to be noumenal, which invade / interfere with science's target of study - the sensible world - are accordingly deemed testable, and thus hopelessly doomed to lack evidence for themselves as residents of nature.

Is it possible to concoct a global bill of rights that was outputted by something resembling scientific methodology, instead of the momentum of popular opinions / trends and collections of older, critical thinking? That is, one more compatible to the filial cannibalistic activity of our callous Mother Cosmos, which engendered complex living organisms over the course of billions of years?

When it comes to what is deemed most basic and essential to the survival of humankind and civilization, surely a few generalized principles or non-contingent universals could be abstracted from a wide sampling of particular cases in the empirical world, which eluded the catcalls of relativism. Could these then become validated prescriptions, whose experiments had been successful when applied to unavoidably small populations subjected to their regulatory effects? Perhaps. To implement or secure the practice of these broad concepts in actual everyday life at large scales, some of them might have to splinter and specialize down into assorted universal human rights (not just socio-economic strategies and governing laws). Thus concludes one fanciful sci-fi venture in which HR emerges as a byproduct, with a stamp of approval from an unexpected source for "oughts".

marjoram_blues
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Re: 'You either have rights or you don't...'

Post by marjoram_blues » Thu May 14, 2015 10:33 am

H: The earliest semblances of "rights" couldn't be much more than part of a minimum system which hunter-gatherer groups or ancient farming communities came up with to make their organizations functional.

M: Yes, perhaps both functional and fair, otherwise people might go 'on strike' or sabotage any dealings/transactions?

H: If that was so deficient that an average member had lesser significance than a Chief or a Priest, got tortured and had his hand chopped-off for stealing without a trial, then so be it.

M: A deficient 'rights' system, then would be inherently unfair. Always the more powerful dictating terms.

H: Even if those peoples believed that there was something antecedent to their reality, which the was source of their rules and which properties this or that human supposedly possessed, the elite could use their biased knowledge claims about that domain to as much justify acts of cruelty (which political / religious systems throughout later history did).

M: Agreed. Those claiming special knowledge over an ignorant population ( carefully kept so ) will hold the balance of power when it comes to any rights.

H: But still, the consequence of eliminating a transcendent level is that the rejection leaves all life as unimportant residue, resting under the remaining machine-god's (Nature's) shadow of indifference.

M: Yes, nature's a bitch. We have to deal with that. And how the powerful deny the poor any rights e.g. over land and production.

H: Which is to say that the nice thing about a Kantian version of the former is that the admitted incapacity to verify anything about it at least still permitted that possibility of even a blank territory, for which what is deemed necessary could still be projected upon it in practical fashion by a more ethically advanced, less savage era. Since whatever is "deemed necessary" (especially in some context like moral realism) is often embarrassingly absent from the phenomenal realm which science studies and theorizes about.

M: Come again? Are you saying that all we need is a practical set of man-made morals to enable 'rights'? Ah, I've just read on...and clearly not.

H: As it stands today..."Human rights" or "rights for all rational agents" are simply social contracts or group-agreements reliant upon a host of persuasive tactics for recruiting blocs of people to partake membership in them. Utilizing philosophical arguments, rhetoric, emotional appeals, drummed-up personal fears, threats of boycotting, promotion of a "shaming status" to be stamped upon those who refuse to jump on the ideological bandwagon carrying the pact, etc.

M: Yes, social contracts in law which can enable or be disabled at any time, according to the prevailing ideology. How much influence a single philosopher/philosophy has over this process...will likely be negligible - unless incredibly persuasive. The 'shaming status' very dangerous and driven by use of black and white thinking. You are either for us or against us. Criticise the status quo and you are branded an unpatriotic traitor, while the opposite may be true. Where are our rights to speak, then?

H: Such formal declarations derive their power from those clans and governments which "sign" the "contract" and try to obey it. Not from invisible moral agencies which pervade space, don't even bother to be noumenal, which invade / interfere with science's target of study - the sensible world - are accordingly deemed testable, and thus hopelessly doomed to lack evidence for themselves as residents of nature.

M: Here is where you lost me. Non capisco.

H: Is it possible to concoct a global bill of rights that was outputted by something resembling scientific methodology, instead of the momentum of popular opinions / trends and collections of older, critical thinking? That is, one more compatible to the filial cannibalistic activity of our callous Mother Cosmos, which engendered complex living organisms over the course of billions of years?

M: Lol - I won't be holding my breath for that... [ I don't suppose you've written a book on the subject?]

H: When it comes to what is deemed most basic and essential to the survival of humankind and civilization, surely a few generalized principles or non-contingent universals could be abstracted from a wide sampling of particular cases in the empirical world, which eluded the catcalls of relativism. Could these then become validated prescriptions, whose experiments had been successful when applied to unavoidably small populations subjected to their regulatory effects? Perhaps. To implement or secure the practice of these broad concepts in actual everyday life at large scales, some of them might have to splinter and specialize down into assorted universal human rights (not just socio-economic strategies and governing laws). Thus concludes one fanciful sci-fi venture in which HR emerges as a byproduct, with a stamp of approval from an unexpected source for "oughts".

M: Ah, do you think the 'oughts' have it? But when splintering occurs, this is where one ought outweighs another one (relatively speaking)...no?
Who would do the abstracting - which philosophers would/could/should work together - with what kind of scientific/empirical knowledge?

Ah, we are Doooooomed I tell ya', doooooooomed...
But still some fight for rights. And not to lose the ones that have been gained so painfully. That is only right.

Impenitent
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Re: 'You either have rights or you don't...'

Post by Impenitent » Thu May 14, 2015 10:29 pm

rights are nothing but demands on the behavior of others

-Imp

marjoram_blues
Posts: 1629
Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2015 12:50 pm

Re: 'You either have rights or you don't...'

Post by marjoram_blues » Fri May 15, 2015 10:08 am

Impenitent wrote:rights are nothing but demands on the behavior of others

-Imp
Not only.
A poster can 'demand' that another poster play by his rules and he has that 'right' - ( the right coming before the demand, and not equal to it ) - just as the other has a 'right' to ignore the insistent request ( and here there is not necessarily a demand forthcoming ). Rick has the 'right' to lay down some guiding rules for the PN kingdom...

Any old trivial demand is not the same as 'rights' as a philosophical concept. Previously:
'The philosophy of human rights addresses questions about the existence, content, nature, universality, justification, and legal status of human rights'.
'Human rights are norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses. Examples of human rights are the right to freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial when charged with a crime, the right not to be tortured, and the right to engage in political activity. These rights exist in morality and in law at the national and international levels...'


I am interested to find out what, if any, particular philosophy/philosopher any PN poster/participant would party/parlez with. Or if they have developed their own attitude towards 'rights'. And is that a static and dogmatic view, never to be overturned, or reconsidered ?

For instance, the following quotes highlight the 'divine rights' of kings and the 'rights' of fathers to respect, based on God's right.
The demand for rights stems from the fact that some have more rights than others.
Philosophers can do the job of asking 'What,Why?' etc. - but more often any major change arises when people have had enough.
Unrest leading to Revolution rather than Evolution. Here, any new rights arise from demands for a change in behaviour/law/attitudes.

Women's right to vote came after a long struggle by suffragists.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffragette

Nowadays, the vote is sometimes seen as worthless; many don't bother. Even when we do, we often get what we don't vote for. For example, an overturn of the Human Rights Act; the privilege and protection of would-be kings requiring another look at the Freedom of Information Act.

And these are just a few - elsewhere in the world unspeakable acts against pupils abducted from schools to become the 'wives' of fundamentalists.
So-called religious/cultural rights v moral rights.
Rights
Historically, many notions of rights were authoritarian and hierarchical, with different people granted different rights, and some having more rights than others. For instance, the right of a father to respected from his son did not indicate a right from the son to receive a return from that respect; and the divine right of kings, which permitted absolute power over subjects, did not leave a lot of room for many rights for the subjects themselves.

In contrast, modern conceptions of rights often emphasize liberty and equality as among the most important aspects of rights, for example in the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
------
In due course, opposition to the divine right of kings came from a number of sources, including poet John Milton in his pamphlet The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and Thomas Paine in his pamphlet Common Sense. Probably the two most famous declarations of a right to revolution against tyranny in the English language are John Locke's Essay concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil-Government and Thomas Jefferson's formulation in the United States Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_right_of_kings

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