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Questioning Natural Rights: Is the Idea of Natural Rights Ineliminably Religious?

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Ronald Dworkin Life is highest product of creation (complexity, mental abilities, self-awareness) each life represents efforts of civilization, parental care, etc. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Questioning Natural Rights: Is the Idea of Natural Rights Ineliminably Religious?


1
Questioning Natural Rights Is the Idea of
Natural Rights Ineliminably Religious?
  • ER 11, Spring 2012

2
Results
  • Natural rights approaches based on revelation
    cannot solve problem of parochialism
  • Natural rights approaches based on idea of
    self-evidence are non-starters
  • Natural rights approaches based on the idea of a
    human function are implausible outside of a
    theological framework

3
  • We have found no non-parochial way of making
    sense of natural rights.
  • Therefore, we have found no such way of making
    sense of human rights.

4
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5
  • Maybe idea of moral rights makes no sense
    outside of theology
  • Human rights have no non-parochial foundations

6
  • Can there be morality/ rights without God at
    all?

7
Ethics in Christian World View (Locke)
  • There are facts about what we should do, both re.
    personal conduct and re. political communities
  • moral facts - moral/political philosophy similar
    to scientific theorizing
  • For instance, principles of justice become what
    they are through being in accordance with divine
    commands about political communities
  • Mutatis mutandis for other religious, especially
    theistic views

8
Hospitable to Equality in principle
  • People are equal as creatures of God
  • Every person has relationship to God
  • everything has meaning -- has its function in a
    purposeful whole
  • Not immediately connected to an idea of
    individual rights, but it is a starting point

9
  • Can there be morality/ rights without God at all?

10
No there cant, and its a cause of despair
  • Ivan K If God is dead, everything is permitted.

11
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12
At least not unless there is stringent legal
enforcement
  • human rights a kind of puffery or white magic
  • concept of right is vacuous without effective
    enforcement

13
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14
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15
No, there cant (no commitment to equality), and
its liberating
16
Nietzsche, Gay Science, 125
  • The madman. Have you not heard of that madman
    who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours,
    ran to the market place and cried incessantly "I
    seek God! I seek God!" As many of those who did
    not believe in God were standing around just
    then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost?
    asked one. Did he lose his way like a child?
    asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of
    us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? Thus
    they yelled and laughed. The madman jumped into
    their midst and pierced them with his eyes.
    "Whither is God?" he cried. "I will tell you. We
    have killed himyou and I! All of us are his
    murderers! But how did we do this? How could we
    drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe
    away the entire horizon? What were we doing when
    we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is
    it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from
    all suns? Are we not plunging continually? And
    backward, sideward, forward, in all directions?
    Is there still any up or down? Are we not
    straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we
    not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not
    become colder? Is not night continually closing
    in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the
    morning? Do we not hear nothing as yet of the
    noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do
    we smell nothing as yet of the divine
    decomposition?Gods, too, decompose! God is dead!
    God remains dead! And we have killed him!

17
  • Why a madman?

18
  • Why is he talking to atheists?

19
  • The death of God?

20
Nietzsche, Twilight of Idols
  • Excursions, 5, where Nietzsche finds fault with
    the English flatheads
  • Christianity is a system, a whole view of things
    thought out together. By breaking one main
    concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks
    the whole. ... When the English actually
    believe that they know intuitively what is good
    and evil, when they therefore suppose that they
    no longer require Christianity as the guarantee
    of morality, we merely witness the effects of the
    dominion of the Christian value judgment and an
    expression of the strength and depth of this
    dominion.

21
  • Moral equality and the
  • slave rebellion

22
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23
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24
No point of talking about human rights without
God
  • Perry, Is the Idea of Rights Ineliminably
    Religious?
  • insists that there can be no human rights without
    God but finds that unproblematic

25
Yes, there can be morality/ human rights without
God
26
Perrys Argument
  • (1) Conviction that each human being is sacred is
    foundational to human rights (via inherent
    dignity)
  • (2) Idea of the sacred is ineliminably religious
  • (C) So idea of human rights is ineliminably
    religious
  • Without God, no human rights

27
  • Religious?

28
  • the trust that the world is finally meaningful
    in a way hospitable to our deepest yearnings (p
    212)
  • The question of why do I exist? has an answer
    other than it just so happens, and can be
    explained biologically)
  • Consolation/reconciliation
  • Paradigmatic case theism/divine creation

29
Non-religious
  • (roughly) when somebody dies, I have nothing to
    say to console friends and families

30
Sacredness religiously
  • Intrinsic value value for somebody that is not
    merely instrumental
  • Objective value value that pertains to X
    regardless of whether X is aware that he/she has
    that value
  • having intrinsic value and having objective
    value are necessary conditions for being
    sacred (cant be sacred without either)
  • Paradigmatic way of being sacred being the
    beloved child of God (p 260)
  • Inviolability that puts demands on everybody

31
Sacredness non-religiously?
  • Ronald Dworkin
  • Life is highest product of creation (complexity,
    mental abilities, self-awareness)
  • each life represents efforts of civilization,
    parental care, etc.
  • Therefore life inspires awe in us, admiration,
    inspiration

32
Perrys objection
  • To suggest () that something is sacred
    because it inspires awe in us, because we value
    it, is to reverse the ordinary order of things.
    (p 237)
  • open to subjective choice people may not have
    such awe for certain others, thus their lives
    would not be sacred to them
  • Awe for/ inspiration by X not strong enough to
    make X sacred
  • If world has no meaning, nothing is sacred no
    point to human rights

33
  • What is missing on Dworkins picture?

34
  • What can we no longer say of human beings (that
    would make them sacred) outside of religious
    framework?

35
First possibility
  • every person is beloved child of God
  • True, but by definition without religion, no
    God, no children of God

36
Second possibility
  • Can no longer say that there is any point to life
  • Not true life can be rewarding in many ways
    even for the non-religious subjective
    well-being objective contributions
  • if the whole does not have meaning, we might
    still jointly give meaning to certain human
    activities

37
Third possibility
  • Can no longer say that every human being is of
    infinite importance (Tawney)

38
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39
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40
Third possibility means what?
  • God can do for each human being what no human
    being could do because it could not be done in
    finite time, with finite means, etc.
  • But can still say every human being matters
    enormously (within finite means)

41
Third possibility means what?
  • God can do for each human being what no human
    being could do because it could not be done in
    finite time, with finite means, etc.
  • But can still say every human being matters
    enormously (within finite means) good enough

42
Fourth possibility
  • Can no longer say that people are plainly wrong
    if they deny that some people are intrinsically
    and objectively valuable
  • But we can Dworkin spells out one way in which
    we can, there is just nothing more to it
  • What to say back to the person that THOSE people
    have no such value TO US?
  • That they are drawing a distinction on an
    irrelevant basis

43
Fifth possibility
  • Can no longer say people have inherent dignity
  • again, Dworkin offers one way in which we can say
    that
  • Kant offers another

44
Perrys argument question-begging
  • To suggest () that something is sacred
    because it inspires awe in us, because we value
    it, is to reverse the ordinary order of things.
    (p 237)
  • thinks this because he assumes there is an
    ordinary order of things
  • If not, problem he raises does not arise

45
Perrys Argument
  • (1) Conviction that each human being is sacred is
    foundational to human rights (via inherent
    dignity)
  • (2) Idea of the sacred is ineliminably religious
  • (C) So idea of human rights is ineliminably
    religious
  • Without God, no human rights

46
Result
  • Perry has not shown it is impossible to offer
    non-religious foundations for human rights
  • suspicion has not been proven
  • but we of course have yet to provide such
    non-religious foundations!
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