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Week 7 (OCT 29th) - Pogges, Lukes.docx

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PHL 400
Mark Clamen

What exactly are “Human Rights”? - Thomas W Pogge: “How Should Human Rights Be Conceived?” - Steven Lukes: “Five Fables about Human Rights” (series of allegories) Majority of their essays discuss the shared intuition about what human rights are Universal declaration of rights (1948)-> presumed by both pieces when they talk (complexity of rights invoked in the declaration): most important are: Article 1, 3, 10, 24, 26, 27 - Pogge – the key is approaching human rights; how the concept is used, applied, etc. - Invocation of these rights, could but shouldn’t take that right away from you; when we talk about rights, we are also in some degree we are talking about duties, borrows from natural rights - “Where do human rights come from?”  What do human rights share with Natural Law and natural rights; natural law VS legal law; natural right is one that is owed to all citizens, not at citizens but as people and therefore not contingent upon origin they are universal  Natural law names all the duties we are subject to, regardless of our accidental features (falling on us as an absolute/unchanging set of laws)  Four features: all are “used to express a special class of moral concerns, namely ones that are among the most weighty of all, as well as unrestricted and broadly sharable.” (187)  both natural law and natural right discourse put particular stress on 1) a special class of moral concerns with a (specific/narrow) focus on “the natural rights of others as imposing moral constraints upon human conduct, practices, and institutions” (“we” turns into “I”) 2) “weighty” (important, high status) and reflects the need for them to be reflected in our moral conduct 3) “unrestricted” (being subject to these duties “does not depend on their particular epoch, culture, religion, moral tradition, or philosophy”) does not depend on any of these in the way that these laws fall 4) “broadly sharable” (the demands posed are capable of being understood/appreciated by people of all epochs, backgrounds, levels of intelligence, etc.) - in principle, since there are no tests for it - rights to animals? God? Moral obligations to god seem pointless, it implies that god does not have these rights protected… - what is missing? So we know how to evaluate human rights discourse - descriptive, how we believe to be talking and ultimately rightly or wrongly that seems to be the case  State Action  Article 17: (2) no one shall be arbitrarily be deprived of his property -> allows some of these violations to count only against violations from certain source  The “human rights postulates are addressed, in the first instance at least, to those who occupy positions of authority… “  “Official moral wrongs masquerade under the name of law and justice and they are generally committed quite openly for all to see: laid down in statutes and regulations, called for by orders and verdicts and adorned with official seals, stamps and signatures. Such wrongs do not merely deprived their victims of the objects of their right but attack those very rights themselves; but the very idea of right and justice OFFICIAL VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VS OFFICIAL DISRESEPCT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - What counts as official? Major corporation performing quasi state-like actions? Not necessarily intentionally; often good intentions - Organized crime becomes a second corporation; state is aware of it but do nothing about it… May not be responsible for the fear, but responsible for doing nothing (human rights record of a state)  The state can be held responsible for failing to act, or endorsing actions - Unofficial violations of a right that is on the list of human rights do not constitute human-rights violations; but official indifference toward such private violations does constitute official disrespect - Does every right necessarily entail a corresponding duty?  No clear person who has failed; who is to blame for failure of happiness or fulfillment?  Minimalist VS Maximalist accounts of rights  Minimalist: there’s no right to a living way – there’s no state requirement for your unemployment etc. A right to enjoy the arts? How can this be compared to the right not to have your property arbitrarily taken?(Article 24, 26, 27)  Maximalist: not only the negative duties are owed to us, but the positive duties as well -> for the state to actively present us these rights; to fund and give us the e
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