The Bum's Dime

 Absolute justice does not exist. There are only mutual agreements among men, made at various times and places, not to inflict nor allow harm.
 -Principle Doctrines, 33
Flip on the news and one might see headlines of human rights violations in places like Rwanda, Darfur, and Tibet. Almost everyone sees human rights as something natural, or as something 'inalienable'. This notion that we have the 'right' to live our lives without interference and harm from others or the state has come to dominate the way we think about human interactions. This however is groundless. Nature does not have a set of rights, and when one of our human rights is violated, the Universe is silent. This can be illustrated by the violent balance of life found in the wild. The water Buffalo have no 'right to life', if they land in the cross hairs of a large cat they must fight for their existence. When a prey animal dies, it is not a tragedy, it is the ugly truth of existence. Human rights do not exist, they have come to us through the development of
institutions, through convention, and through governance. When a human right is violated, it is not a tragedy, but a violation of an agremment among men that is often times implicit.



Tue, 08 Sep 2009 16:07:38

It's interesting that you say that "human rights do not exist," as I suspect that's only partly what you mean. I think that you are suggesting that they do not exist outside of human minds--but that isn't exactly the same thing. After all, most of what we base human society upon--from science to education to government--are recent inventions that have no counterpart in "wild" unmediated nature. But the fact that they are imaginative inventions doesn't make them unenforceable--ask anyone in prison. I guess the question is, then, to what extent are ideas "real"? The answer to that question says much about how each individual defines reality.



Wed, 16 Sep 2009 09:58:16

Jeremy- you are right, they do exist in the sense that they are created by human convention (I do acknowledge that at the end of my post). I probably should have qualified "human rights do not exist" by saying,"Human rights do not absolutely exist". Unlike you, me and the world around, they do not exist, and though convention allows them to be enforcable, they need the power to enforce them. If the institution was not there to enforce them, or if the institution was insufficiently powerful, then human rights would not necessarliy exist other than in some metaphysical sense, with not effect on the world.


Leave a Reply


    Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.


    August 2009



    RSS Feed