Sunday, March 4, 2012

Do human rights exist? (QOTW)

IPPL's philosophy intern Caitlin has been posting Questions of the Week (QOTW) for about two months now. We’ve tried them out on Facebook and on our campus bulletin board. It’s time now for her to hit the big time – we are going to start to post them on PQED. The question of the week is special because we won’t comment on them at all, we’ll just ask them, sit back, and see how people answer. There has already been lots of response on Facebook itself. Hopefully, some of them will make it to this blog.

Here is what Caitlin has written this week:
"It is time once again for the question of week. This time I am going to choose a question that was asked and placed from an anonymous person in our suggestion envelope on campus. If you have any questions that you would like to see as the question of the week, shoot us a message!

Question of the Week: Do (human) rights exist? If yes, what are they based on?

Thanks for the question, and we look forward to hearing your answer!"
Congratulations on the promotion, Caitlin!

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1 comment:

  1. Before we even ask whether they exist or not, let's first look at what they are based on - in the sense of where do we find them in history? I immediately think of the Helsinki Accords, when I think of the modern concept of human rights, which anybody can look up on Wikipedia, and these in turn, again, just according to Wikipedia, grew out of an idea of the allies in WWII of the "Four Freedoms;" of speech, assembly, from fear and from want.
    It's easy to trace these back to, for example,the US Declaration of Independence, which declares, "We hold these rights to be self-evident...and lists some rights, which, in fact at the time were NOT considered self-evident by most thinkers, but were still a pretty revolutionary idea, taken from an English Philosopher of a few years earlier, John Locke...
    The point I am trying to make, is that it seems to me that human rights exist as a concept(just as WHO is counted as fully human and thus entitled to them) when, if and how we decide (and then agree) they exist. I hope we do.