Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

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Dachshund
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Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Dachshund » March 26th, 2018, 3:33 am

I have a challenge for the forum relating to the fundamental principle which undergirds the entire Human Rights discourse in the West today, namely, the notion of human dignity.

Human dignity is clearly established as the basic notion that has grounded virtually every Human Rights declaration, convention, protocol and international court statute since the end of the Second World War. For instance, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) we are told that:

"the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal inalienable Rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world".

Article 1 of the same declaration re-emphasises the inherent nature of our Rights and dignity, proclaiming that:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity".

Although the principle role of dignity in establishing Human Rights is somewhat vague in the UDHR, it is subsequently stipulated very clearly in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which envisages a direct and fundamental connection between Human Rights and human dignity, declaring that Human Rights "derive from the inherent dignity of the human person".

Moreover, in almost all subsequent instruments, the notion of respect for the inherent dignity of the human person figures as a basic foundation for claims of Human Rights.

In sum, the principle that all human beings are endowed with equal dignity ( or "worth") basically prescribes that all people are to be accorded the same (i.e. equal) Human Rights regardless of accidents of birth or social class.

My understanding of the notion of human dignity as it is used in the contemporary Human Rights discourse is that it refers to the fundamental moral status of human beings, that is, to their basic "worth" or "value". If so, the stipulation in documents like the current UNUDHR (United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights) that all men and women are unconditionally entitled to be accorded equal, basic Human Rights is directly founded on the claim that all human beings inherently possess an equal moral status, that is, that they all possess the same, inherent, equal dignity; - that they are, in short, to be understood as having an inalienable, non-fungible equal fundamental (moral) worth or value.

In my opinion, this is utter nonsense. I absolutely do not subscribe to the view that such a thing as human dignity exists in the sense that it is a real, inviolable, non-fungible, absolute normative property possessed in the same measure by all human beings. In terms of their fundamental moral status, the idea that all people are inherently and unconditionally dignified in the sense that they are - each and every one - endowed with the same basic measure of worth or value, and are thereby unconditionally entitled to be accorded respect, is, as far as I am concerned, a ridiculous, radical , egalitarian ethical theory that is impossible to justify.

Thus, I hereby challenge any member of the forum who objects to my claim that the notion of human dignity I refer to above - the very same notion, that is, which undergirds and upholds the entire contemporary Human Rights discourse is pure nonsense - to prove me wrong.

If anyone can provide a reasonable justification ( of any kind) for the notion of human dignity is an inviolable, inherent, non-fungible, absolute, unconditioned normative property that all human beings possess in equal measure, I will humbly admit that I am mistaken. Otherwise, I will continue to regard my view that the entire Human Rights discourse, as expressed, for example, in legal documents like the current UNUDHR is nothing but hollow humbug and constitutes a monumental sham that is one of the most outrageous open scandals in Western culture today.

PS: I would be particularly interested to hear from Mr HAN ( "Here and Now") as he is, I believe, generally speaking a great proponent of moral egalitarianism on this forum (?). He has in any case, been highly critical of my "old school" (Burkite) political Conservatism and the ethical implications I say it has in the context of justifying the need for an urgent reform of a number of core social policies in the West today, such as the ongoing support for : multiculturalism; programs of "Affirmative Action" and dogmatic gender feminism in the workplace and state educational institutions, for example; the imposition of clampdowns on freedom of speech in the form of institutionalised ( e.g; statutory) codes of Politically Correct language and so on.

Regards,

Dachshund

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Re: HUMAN RIGHTS - A CHALLENGE FOR THE FORUM

Post by LuckyR » March 26th, 2018, 3:55 am

Quite a lengthy description of what you don't believe in. That's nice, but what do you believe in?
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: HUMAN RIGHTS - A CHALLENGE FOR THE FORUM

Post by Dachshund » March 26th, 2018, 7:26 am

LuckyR wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 3:55 am
Quite a lengthy description of what you don't believe in. That's nice, but what do you believe in?
For the time being I am only interested , like I said, in hearing from anyone on this forum who believes that they can put forward a reasonable justification ( of any kind) for the notion of human dignity as it is used to underpin the current Human Rights discourse in the West. If it appears that no one can meet the challenge - (and I will wager "London to a brick" that this will be the case) - I will then discuss the some of the (many) important ramifications this has for issues like social policy reform in the West today.

With Kindest Regards

Dachshund - the (sausage) dog's b- o11o- cks

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Re: HUMAN RIGHTS - A CHALLENGE FOR THE FORUM

Post by Alias » March 26th, 2018, 10:12 am

Here is a picture
http://www.wxxi.org/colorama/images/15Babies.jpg
Which have dignity, worth and value? Which don't? On what basis do you decide?

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Re: HUMAN RIGHTS - A CHALLENGE FOR THE FORUM

Post by Steve3007 » March 26th, 2018, 10:47 am

I think it's possible to question the language in which the UDHR and other such declarations are expressed while still considering them to be morally useful.


In the context of law a "declaration" is the announcement of a judgement by a person or people (some moral agents). It is not (in my view) an empirical proposition, such as, for example, "all human beings have two arms, two legs and a head". It is an opinion on a matter of morality.

If it were an empirical proposition then, like the OP, I would disagree with the idea that human beings, simply by virtue of being human, have some kind of innate property which might be called "dignity": moral worth or moral value. (Although, as I will discuss briefly at the end of this post, the OP appears to be somewhat inconsistent with the views of its writer as expressed elsewhere.) Concepts such as value and worth only make sense when seen as the subjective opinions of agents. Unless one believes in the existence of an anthropomorphic god or gods the only available agents are human beings. So any value or worth we may have consists of the opinions of other humans and ourselves. We don't have a particular objectively measurable quantity of moral value/dignity in our bodies, in the sense that we have a particular objectively measurable quantity of blood, for example.

However, some declarations, such as the US Declaration of Independence, do appear to talk as if they are making empirical propositions, and not expressing the moral opinions of human beings:

"...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..."

I think this form of language is simply a product of the tendency of people at the time to believe that human beings were created by an anthropomorphic god and to see the opinions of that god (due to His nature) as objective, absolute truths. I disagree with the form of words, but I still think that it can be argued to be useful for humans to assign rights to other humans. i.e. for humans to declare their belief in broad moral principles which serve as the basis for laws whose purpose is to protect individuals from harm.


Human beings assigning moral value to other human beings (or to anything else) is worthwhile if it furthers our goals. If our goal is to attempt to create a general environment in which individual human life tends to be protected in law over and above the extent to which we protect, say, material property, then I can see the utility of using the concept of human rights and declaring (the judgement or opinion) that all human lives have value. This appears to me to be a useful tool towards that goal. If that is not a goal, then it is not a useful tool.

---

The writer of the OP has elsewhere expressed admiration for the concept of absolute morality and the universal applicability of simple moral commandments (the declarations of God) such as "thou shalt not kill [humans]". This is a declaration which states the opinion (regarded as absolute because it is the opinion of a proposed unchanging, all-knowing God) that all humans have a right not to be killed and seems to me somewhat inconsistent with the apparent rejection of such universally applicable declarations in this OP.

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Re: HUMAN RIGHTS - A CHALLENGE FOR THE FORUM

Post by Fooloso4 » March 26th, 2018, 12:59 pm

Daschund:
Thus, I hereby challenge any member of the forum who objects to my claim that the notion of human dignity I refer to above - the very same notion, that is, which undergirds and upholds the entire contemporary Human Rights discourse is pure nonsense - to prove me wrong.
You dog! You claim that the notion of human dignity is wrong and then instead of “proving” it is wrong challenge us to prove you wrong.
… I will humbly admit that I am mistaken.


I think it far more likely you will skulk off with your tail between your legs, just as you did on your other thread.

It is not at all clear what it is that you think the concept of human dignity entails that you find so objectionable. You say:
I absolutely do not subscribe to the view that such a thing as human dignity exists in the sense that …
Does that mean you subscribe to another view of human dignity or that you reject the notion of human dignity all together? Is your objection that it is “non-fungible mean that you think human dignity should be bought and sold? Do those who can’t afford or are unwilling to buy their dignity deserve to be treated without dignity? And from whom do they buy their dignity?

You emphasize “same measure”. Does this mean you fawn over princes and spit on the poor?

How do you determine the worth or value of a person? Their social status or class, their abilities, their circumstances, their actions? How does your estimation of their worth or value affect how they are treated?

Suppose two newborn babies were entrusted to your care. Do you afford them the same or different care? Does their race or sex make a difference? Do you subsequently treat them differently if you learn something about their background? Is one more or less worthy of your attention because they cry more or less?

What does an unconditioned normative property mean? What conditions the normative properties of a person?
… the imposition of clampdowns on freedom of speech …
Do you not see the irony? You oppose the concept of human rights but end by an appeal to the right to free speech! Have you earned this right? Doesn’t your anti-egalitarianism work against you here? Perhaps you are deemed not worthy of speaking freely by your superiors.

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Re: HUMAN RIGHTS - A CHALLENGE FOR THE FORUM

Post by Alias » March 26th, 2018, 3:55 pm

Steve3007 wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 10:47 am

In the context of law a "declaration" is the announcement of a judgement by a person or people (some moral agents).
That is precisely what a constitution or canon is supposed to be. It is a statement of the principles upon which a group of people agree to base their laws and rules of conduct.
It is not (in my view) an empirical proposition, such as, for example, "all human beings have two arms, two legs and a head". It is an opinion on a matter of morality.
Of course. Its function is to state the moral foundation of an oganization in such language as makes sense to its founders, and by which any prospective new members are expected to abide in full cognizance of its letter and spirit.
However, some declarations, such as the US Declaration of Independence, do appear to talk as if they are making empirical propositions, and not expressing the moral opinions of human beings:
This statement is directly contradicted by the preamble you cite:
"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, [/b..."
not "God said..." not "It is a fact of Nature", but "We hold" That means "This is the principle upon which we agree to found a new nation with new laws." and they signed their names.
While the framers of the US constitution were educated in the Christian tradition of Europe, and so the word "created" came naturally to them, they did not base the legal system or the administration of their new nation upon the bible or the Anglican church; they did not put an agent of god at its head. They proceeded in full recognition of this being a human enterprise with human judgments of value and rightness. That's why they included an amending formula.

Similarly, United Declaration of rights states:
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

It is clearly intended, not as a statement of objective fact but of shared belief.

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Re: Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Atreyu » March 26th, 2018, 9:10 pm

I'd like to participate in this discussion, but 'unfortunately' I completely agree with the OP. His position seems self-evident and obvious to me....

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Re: Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Alias » March 26th, 2018, 9:59 pm

Atreyu wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 9:10 pm
I'd like to participate in this discussion, but 'unfortunately' I completely agree with the OP. His position seems self-evident and obvious to me....
Which of the babies in that picture have no right to worth and dignity?

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Re: Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Greta » March 26th, 2018, 10:42 pm

Oh oh oh, miss ... I know the answer to that question - none of them! (five points from Gryffindor for speaking out of turn).

None of us have any natural human rights. We are all fodder for predators (actual or metaphorical) unless we are lucky. Thus, human rights is a purely human construct, an aspiration.

I see human rights as being most worthy of attempting to implement, as with any aspirational idea that will never bring perfection or perhaps not even satisfactory outcomes, ie. world peace, environmentalism. The worth is in the striving towards these ideals rather than falling back on "natural law", which is nothing more or less than psychopathic.

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Re: Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Alias » March 26th, 2018, 11:09 pm

There is no law or moral code in Nature. The UN didn't claim human rights as a natural law, any more than the US constitution, or the Magna Carta, or the Knights Of Columbus claim their central principles obtain in the jungle. It's a declaration of the principle upon which the organization is intended to operate. Nothing else.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: HUMAN RIGHTS - A CHALLENGE FOR THE FORUM

Post by LuckyR » March 27th, 2018, 3:05 am

Dachshund wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 7:26 am
LuckyR wrote:
March 26th, 2018, 3:55 am
Quite a lengthy description of what you don't believe in. That's nice, but what do you believe in?
For the time being I am only interested , like I said, in hearing from anyone on this forum who believes that they can put forward a reasonable justification ( of any kind) for the notion of human dignity as it is used to underpin the current Human Rights discourse in the West. If it appears that no one can meet the challenge - (and I will wager "London to a brick" that this will be the case) - I will then discuss the some of the (many) important ramifications this has for issues like social policy reform in the West today.

With Kindest Regards

Dachshund - the (sausage) dog's b- o11o- cks
Well, for the time being I am not interested in investing energy building something for the purpose of target practice for someone who has figured out the relatively simple fact that it is easier to tear down than build up. Hence your intelligent refusal to take on your own, slanted "challenge". And I will bet you London to a brick that if you do, a logical opposing argument can be leveled at it.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Steve3007 » March 27th, 2018, 3:57 am

Steve3007 wrote:However, some declarations, such as the US Declaration of Independence, do appear to talk as if they are making empirical propositions, and not expressing the moral opinions of human beings:
Alias wrote:This statement is directly contradicted by the preamble you cite:
"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, ..."
not "God said..." not "It is a fact of Nature", but "We hold" That means "This is the principle upon which we agree to found a new nation with new laws." and they signed their names.
(I took the liberty of fixing the slight error with the bold tag which caused the rest of your post to stay bold instead of just the part you intended. That's happened with my posts before too. Annoying isn't it?)

Yes, I suppose so. "We hold" implies judgement rather than empirical proposition. Yet "to be self-evident" implies that they think they are uttering what they see as objective truths; self-evident truths.

Perhaps they should have said: "This might be a good idea: How about we treat everyone equally before the law? It's probably a crazy idea, but I thought I'd run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes."

For me the lesson is that, as I said at the start of my first post here, we can argue the toss over the form of language while still considering Declarations, like the UDHR, to have moral utility; to be useful tools in achieving goals.

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Re: Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Alias » March 27th, 2018, 9:00 am

Steve3007 wrote:
March 27th, 2018, 3:57 am
(I took the liberty of fixing the slight error with the bold tag which caused the rest of your post to stay bold instead of just the part you intended. That's happened with my posts before too. Annoying isn't it?)
It's the penalty for not buying in, and not taking time to proofread.
Yes, I suppose so. "We hold" implies judgement rather than empirical proposition. Yet "to be self-evident" implies that they think they are uttering what they see as objective truths; self-evident truths.
It means "we" - as distinguished from the *ptui*ptui!* English - hold these beliefs, and consider them self-evident enough to base a whole new political system on. If they though these were universal laws, they wouldn't have devalued all of the women and two-thirds of the men.
Perhaps they should have said: "This might be a good idea: How about we treat everyone equally before the law? It's probably a crazy idea, but I thought I'd run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes."
Perhaps they were living in the wrong century and didn't realize a nation can be administered by tweeting at it.
For me the lesson is that, as I said at the start of my first post here, we can argue the toss over the form of language while still considering Declarations, like the UDHR, to have moral utility; to be useful tools in achieving goals.
Not unless you explicitly state a shared belief in those goals. And that's all I got to say about that.

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Re: Human Rights- A Challenge for the Forum

Post by Eduk » March 27th, 2018, 2:05 pm

Can you set yourself on fire without flinching.

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