Week 2 Class 1: How to Have Human Rights without Enjoying
Conceptual Questions – Understanding a concept means you can differentiate between what
belongs and what doesn’t.
• What belongs in the concept of human rights?
What does it mean to say that people in certain places have a right to life?
• Their lives are protected?
o No one is ever murdered
• Their lives ought to be protected?
o It is discouraged to deprive people of life
• It is wrong to deprive them of life?
• Useful to consider extreme circumstances
o Is there a right to life when genocide occurs?
Yes. We feel outraged for the people and their terror and loss. Also
because their rights were violated and because these people had dignity
and it was stolen from them the same way as their human rights
• If no rights existed, they could not be violated
• We want to hold violators accountable
Need standards for wrongdoing
• If there are no real underlying standards, there is no wrongdoing
• In human rights failures there is real wrong doing
Need standards for law
• To know what laws to create
• To know how to interpret and modify law o No human right has ever been created without a struggle
o We need to know what to uphold and enact, therefore we
need a moral understanding
What Human Rights are Not
• Not human rights law
o Not all human rights are defined by a law
o The law may be mistaken and inadequate
o Failed states may not have effective laws
o Must exist before inactment
• Not protected human rights
o Human rights exist even when they are not protected
“There is a Human Right X”
• It is wrong to deprive anyone of X by the action of inaction of others
o Independently binding on everyone
Independent of where you are
Independent of legal system
o Ethical justification
o Calling for respect protection and support
Sets standard in legal system
Protection enforced respect
o Universal obligation and responsibility to uphold
o You can deprive someone of it
o They are entitled to it
Violation is real
Violators are accountable Having vs. Enjoying
• Having a right means having an ethical entitlement and all persons have it
• Enjoying a right means the right is socially protected
• Which do we have as HR? (1)
• Which rights do we enjoy in Canada (2)
• Which are legal rights in Canada? (3)
o Free speech:1, 2,3
We have it, different reasons why we want it
• Instrumental, without we are limited in defense of ourselves
We enjoy most of it in Canada, some seem to have a bigger vo