Discussion:
Human rights, whether God-given or not
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Cubaverdad
2013-10-07 07:32:00 UTC
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Posted on Sunday, 10.06.13

Human rights, whether God-given or not
BY JOSÉ AZEL
***@MIAMI.EDU

It is an unnerving surreal scene in the documentary Oscar’s Cuba when
supporters of the Cuban government shout “down with human rights” to
intimidate defenders of opposition leader Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. And
more colorfully and unambiguously, the crowd bellows “we sh@$ on human
rights!”

How can individuals and governments hold such a condemning view on human
rights? As Americans we demand our rights; we admire the struggles of
peoples everywhere claiming their rights; we worship the unalienable
rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness proclaimed in our
Declaration of Independence. Collectivists, however, see rights
differently, so where do rights come from?

Are rights man- made, the social creation of a particular vision of
society as Marxists claim? Or, are rights a self evident endowment of
our Creator as Jefferson asserted? The question of whether rights are
creations of particular societies, or independent of them, is
fundamental to our stance on standards of moral conduct and political
organization.

There are three principal epistemological traditions on the origin of
human rights: (1) Rights are moral laws and they come from God. (2)
Rights are political laws and they are created by governments. (3)
Rights are moral laws inherent in man’s nature.

If human rights are simply a creation of the human intellect it is very
difficult to argue that they are universal and that every government is
obligated to honor rights they disagree with. Accordingly, Karl Marx
denounced rights as a fabrication of bourgeois society. Moreover, if
rights are no more than a whimsical invention of government, they can be
revoked at the pleasure of the government; they are permissions, not rights.

On the other hand, if rights emanate from God and exist prior to, and
distinctly from, any man-made law, they cannot be granted or repealed by
government fiat. Unfortunately, no divine origin for human rights can be
judiciously advanced since there is no evidence of such divinity, much
less evidence of the existence of rights that demonstrably emanate from God.

An additional problem is that there is not one God that is universally
recognized and thus we are left to decide if it is the moral code of
Yahweh, Allah, or Brahman that should prevail. To anchor rights on a
divinity is to admit that there is no evidence to support the existence
of universal human rights.

Very much aware of these issues, Enlightenment thinkers, and the
Founding Fathers sought to anchor human rights in nature as a matter of
natural law. But, in seeking to extrapolate rights from nature, liberal
thinkers filled their arguments with references to what God had
ordained, or granted. John Locke posited his “law of nature” linked to
“men being all the workmanship on one omnipotent, and infinitely wise
maker.” And Jefferson noted that the moral law of nature is “the moral
law to which man has been subjected by his Creator.”

These classical expositions of natural law retain the philosophical
problem that if natural rights come from God, then proof of their
existence depends on proof of God’s existence. To address this, modern
thinkers have developed a number of more secular natural rights theories
that do not originate with a Divinity. But it is this genre of issues
that have led some philosophers to mock belief in human rights as “one
with belief in witches and unicorns” (Alasdair MacIntyre) or “nonsense
upon stilts” (Jeremy Bentham).

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights declares that human
rights flow from “the inherent dignity of the human person.” This too
can be a problematic concept as no universal agreement can be reached as
to what is needed for a life of dignity. Some will claim that a vacation
home on the beach is an absolute necessity for a life worthy of a human
being, others require multiple consorts. Who is to say?

Totalitarian regimes take advantage of this philosophical quandary to
subordinate the individual to the state. Since governments hold a legal
monopoly on the use of physical force, we need individual rights to
protect ourselves from the involuntary servitude to others demanded by
collectivism.

Our best intellectual argument is that each individual is morally an end
in himself/herself and not a means to the ends of others. This means
that individual rights are our defense against collectivism. Individual
rights may, or may not be, God given, or inherent, according to our
personal beliefs. Human rights may just be an aspiration or an artifact,
but in a social context, they are what we require to live in freedom.

José Azel is a senior scholar at the Institute for Cuban and
Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami and the author of the book,
“Mañana in Cuba.”

Source: "Human rights, whether God-given or not - Other Views -
MiamiHerald.com" -
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/06/3670240/human-rights-whether-god-given.html#storylink=misearch
The Razor's Edge
2013-10-26 11:58:21 UTC
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What a crock of shit this piece is.

As Americans, you trample the human rights of the peoples of nearly every
country on earth in the name of democracy, but in reality it is the
hegemonic foreign policy to control the natural resources, primarily oil of
other countries.

Americans do not respect anyone and especially a socialist country
struggling to be free of Imperialism and it's threats, including invasions,
bombing, killing of women and children, destroying and leveling entire
countries in the name of democracy. What a crock of shit that is.

Right now under the guise of national security, your own human rights are
being trampled by the NSA. Your government bailed out the greedy too big to
fail bankers and scum at the expense of people loosing their homes and the
right to a living wage. Where were you then?

Don't play that holier than thou card. Americans are part of the evil empire
and one day you will pay for all the suffering.
Cubaverdad
2013-10-26 14:54:37 UTC
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Post by The Razor's Edge
What a crock of shit this piece is.
What you wrote? Indeed; a crock of pro-Castro shit.
Post by The Razor's Edge
As Americans, you trample the human rights of the peoples
(snip)

I am no "American".
Get at least that one fact straight
Post by The Razor's Edge
Americans do not respect anyone and especially a socialist country
The Castro regime doesn't respect anyone. It is a Stalinist regime that
disrespects the people of Cuba.
Cuba is no democratic socialist state. It is a Stalinist dictatorship.
Post by The Razor's Edge
struggling to be free
Indeed the Cuban people is struggling to be free from the Castro
dictatorship.

Read up:
http://www.impela.net

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