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Human Rights: Philosophical Defenses, Cont.

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Title: Human Rights: Philosophical Defenses, Cont.


1
Human RightsPhilosophical Defenses, Cont.
  • Spring 2013

2
  • Ecce Homo

3
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One formulation of the Categorical Imperative
  • Act so that you use humanity in your person, as
    well as in the person of every other, always at
    the same time as end, never merely as a means.(G
    4429)

6
Key point
  • By treating somebody merely as a means, I
    disregard capacity to value
  • Which is a capacity I have myself
  • Therefore I would disregard myself
  • But as agent I am committed to valuing myself

7
Objection
  • that I value certain things only permits
    inference that I must value my having the
    capacity to value, my partaking of humanity
  • you must value your having capacity to value, or
    your partaking of humanity

8
Continued
  • I must value capacity to value, or to set ends,
    insofar as it is a capacity I possess
  • you must value capacity insofar as it is a
    capacity you possess

9
Continued
  • I do not need to value your capacity to value,
    and vice versa
  • neither you nor I must value capacity to value
    per se
  • no contradiction if I am using you as a means to
    ends that have value because I have conferred it
    upon them

10
Kants response
  • Kant But you are now drawing an arbitrary
    distinction between your capacity to value and
    mine.

11
Kants response
  • Kant But you are now drawing an arbitrary
    distinction between your capacity to value and
    mine.
  • That may well be true but your goal is to
    offer an inconsistency argument and that you
    have not offered.
  • Kant ()

12
What Kants argument shows
  • shows how you become intelligible to me as agent
  • how I come to see your actions as more than mere
    events realize that, in a fundamental way, we
    are alike
  • But does not show I am inconsistent when not
    treating you as an end

13
Joshua Cohen, Minimalism about Human Rights the
Most We Can Hope for?
  • Position Cohen rejects that JM leads to SM

14
Joshua Cohen, Minimalism about Human Rights the
Most We Can Hope for?
  • Substantive minimalism about human rights human
    rights only prohibit violations of negative
    rights
  • Justificatory minimalism justification for human
    rights must not assume any specific religious or
    philosophical viewpoints or ideologies
  • Position Cohen rejects that JM leads to SM

15
  • Cohen rejects this view
  • If you want a universally acceptable
    justification of human rights, you only get very
    few rights only negative rights.
  • Cohen claims instead
  • There is a universally acceptable justification
    of human rights that delivers a list of rights
    not limited to negative rights.

16
Ignatieff Cohen
  • Ignatieff substantive minimalism is best we can
    hope for because of justificatory minimalism
  • Cohen justificatory minimalism allows us to hope
    for more than substantive minimalism
  • hope because its about what vision one may
    have, not about whats realistic

17
Cohens justificatory minimalism not skeptical,
not emprical
  • free-standing, un-foundational
  • does not rely on thick religious or philosophical
    foundations
  • and is not at their intersection

18
  • Thereby addresses charge that human rights are
    Western construct relying too much on liberal
    view of the person that conceived of individual
    as an autonomous decision-maker

19
Cohens proposal
  • Human rights norms are norms associated with idea
    of membership or inclusion in society

20
Cohens proposal
  • Human rights norms are norms associated with idea
    of membership or inclusion in society
  • Membership one is member if ones interests are
    being given due consideration are taken into
    account by a countrys basic institutions

21
Cohens proposal
  • Human rights norms are norms associated with idea
    of membership or inclusion in society
  • Membership one is member if ones interests are
    being given due consideration are taken into
    account by a countrys basic institutions
  • Disagreements about human rights become
    disagreements about what is required for such
    inclusion

22
His proposal
  • requires specific argument for precisely what
    rights would pass this test
  • But many more than on Ignatieffs view if we
    are expected to abide by societys rules, there
    are basic goods society must provide for us in
    return
  • beyond respect for negative rights
  • Slavery, torture, threat of arbitrary arrests,
    but also poor health, lack of education, and
    absence of sufficient economic means undermine
    membership

23
  • Human rights membership rights

24
Fresh elaborations of traditions
  • unfoundational view of human rights not simply
    read off intersection of traditions
  • still, approach will gain plausibility from
    fresh elaborations of religious or
    philosophical traditions that support it
  • after all, view must nonetheless speak to
    religious and philosophical traditions to be
    acceptable

25
Case study Confucianism
  • Point is not that we find ideas about
    rights/human rights somewhere in Confucianism
  • Instead central ideas of Confucianism can be
    represented in such a way as to support a
    conception of human rights

26
Relationships
  • Confucianism particular duties arise from one's
    situation in relation to others
  • individual stands in different relationships as
    a junior in relation to parents and elders, and
    as a senior in relation to younger siblings,
    students, and others

27
  • juniors owe their seniors reverence
  • seniors have duties of benevolence and concern
    toward juniors

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Goal of Confucianism social harmony
  • results from every individual knowing his or her
    place in social order, and playing his or her
    part well

30
Hall of Supreme Harmony, Beijing
31
Confucianism
  • Basic human rights conditions for fulfilling
    obligations associated with human relationship

32
  • Slavery, torture, threat of arbitrary arrests,
    but also poor health, lack of education, and
    absence of sufficient economic means undermine
    ability to fulfill obligations

33
Continued
  • If human worth depends on ones ability to
    fulfill ones obligations, then one can expect of
    others to create conditions under which one can
    do so
  • Officials have obligations, such as peace and
    security this too includes human rights

34
  • Here human rights enter into ethical framework
    that thinks of human beings centrally as embedded
    into social relations rather than fundamentally
    as autonomous beings

35
Crucial
  • point is not that we find human rights in
    Confucianism
  • there is way of elaborating on central tenets of
    Confucianism that integrates human rights
  • human rights do not require liberal view of
    personhood

36
Asian values debate the values at issue
  • Predisposition towards single-party (even
    authoritarian) rule over pluralist democracy
  • Preference for social harmony rather than dissent
  • Concern with socio-economic well-being instead of
    human rights
  • Preference for the welfare and collective
    well-being of the community over individual
    rights
  • Loyalty and respect towards all forms of
    authority including parents, teachers and
    government

37
Case Study Islam
  • Human beings must understand Gods law from
    within historical situations
  • There is no compulsion in religion so not only
    societal leadership must be free to seek to
    interpret Gods law
  • And finally, a diversity of religious communities
    is part of the natural human condition

38
We do things differently around here
  • argument often rests on attribution of unanimity
    that does not exist
  • In case of egregious human right violations no
    we on whose behalf anybody could speak
  • victims have complaints that are intelligible to
    us and on whose behalf we can speak up

39
What if victims agree with the practices?
Scanlon
  • But even if the victims did take the view that
    they have no rights against what is is done to
    them () couldnt they be wrong in thinking
    this?
  • Which is the more objectionable form of
    cultural superiority, to refuse to aid a victim
    on the ground that they live like that they
    dont recognize rights as we know them, or to
    attempt to protect the defenseless even when they
    themselves feel that suffering is their lot and
    they have no basis to complain of it? (P 119)

40
Which is more objectionable form of cultural
superiority?
  • to refuse to aid a victim on the ground that
    they live like that they dont recognize
    rights as we know them,
  • or to attempt to protect the defenseless even
    when they themselves feel that suffering is their
    lot and they have no basis to complain of it?
  • Often aid (2) is more problematic, whereas (1)
    seems like an enlightened attitude
  • But (1) can easily be the more objectionable
    form of cultural superiority because people can
    be brainwashed

41
Must apply with extreme caution
  • False consciousness people have been persuaded
    to support a regime that is to somebody elses
    benefit
  • Brain washing -- severe Manipulation
  • Population itself, once through the transition,
    would presumably approve
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