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Human Rights & Global Affairs (PSC 354.001) . January 21 , 2009 (W). Today. Housekeeping Digital pictures Review of last week Course website Introducing the three core readings (books) Today’s readings: O’Byrne and Donnelly What are human rights? Theory and human rights

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Presentation Transcript
  • Housekeeping
  • Digital pictures
  • Review of last week
  • Course website
  • Introducing the three core readings (books)
  • Today’s readings: O’Byrne and Donnelly
    • What are human rights?
    • Theory and human rights
    • Justifying human rights
human rights global affairs psc 354 0013
Human Rights & Global Affairs (PSC 354.001)
  • Are you registered for this class?
  • Attendance
  • Additions: social and economic rights/religious freedom
  • The quiz
  • Digital pictures
  • Expectations
what are human rights
What are “human rights”?
  • ‘Human rights’ are rights held simply because one is a human being.
  • Human rights describe a life in human dignity framed in a language of rights.
  • Rights are “trumps”, superceding other considerations (utility, interests, political concerns, etc.)
  • Human possibility
    • Human rights cover more than basic needs. They aim to promote human possibilities in a particular, morally defensible way.
universal inalienable indivisible
Universal, Inalienable, Indivisible
  • Inalienable/incontrovertible
    • Rights can not be forfeit, suspended, or given up.
  • Indivisible
    • All rights are equal and depend upon each other.
  • Universal
    • Every human being enjoys the same rights.
  • Rights create duties and obligations for others
    • Human rights create obligations and go beyond the moral claim of something being right; they create entitlements (having a right).
o byrne introduction 1 25
O’Byrne, introduction, 1-25
  • Human rights as “a discipline in its own right,” 2
  • Human rights research should improve the human condition, 3 (is there a conflict with the academic ethos of unbiased research?)
  • Book focuses primarily on civil and political rights, 11
o byrne introduction 1 257
O’Byrne, introduction, 1-25
  • Human rights abuses today (p. 5-8)
    • Ranking countries with regard to human rights abuses
  • What does human rights research look like (p. 8-17)?
    • What should be included in human rights research? What qualifies as a human rights abuse?
    • Focus on the key role of the state
o byrne introduction 1 258
O’Byrne, introduction, 1-25
  • Theory and Human rights, 17
    • Theories of human nature: because violations are committed by individuals (next week)
    • Theories of society: because violations occur in specific social contexts.
    • Theories of ethics: because we need to understand why violations are wrong.
    • Theories of politics: because the state plays a central role in acts of commission or omission.
    • Theories of modernization: because we face a world of simultaneous human rights progress and atrocities.
donnelly introduction and ch 1
Donnelly, introduction and ch. 1
  • Human rights: “the rights that one has because one is human,” 7
  • Human rights are NOT granted by the state.
  • Human rights are
    • Inalienable
    • Equal
    • Universal
    • Indivisible
donnelly introduction and ch 110
Donnelly, introduction and ch. 1
  • Human rights are not the same as abstract values, 11
    • “To have the right” significantly changes the relationship between rulers and ruled.
  • Human rights are not simply legal rights.
    • Example: LGBT community frequently appeals to human, not legal rights, 12
    • Legal rights are based on positive law.
donnelly introduction and ch 111
Donnelly, introduction and ch. 1
  • How do rights ‘work’?
    • A right is an entitlement. It is not simply a benefit or a desirable outcome.
    • Assertive exercise: to claim a right
    • Active respect: to consider a right
    • Objective enjoyment.
  • Human rights violations constitute a special class of injustice.
donnelly introduction and ch 112
Donnelly, introduction and ch. 1

Human rights and human nature

      • How can we defend human rights?
      • How can we justify human rights?
      • Why do those defenses (based on ethics or religion) of human rights sometimes fail?
  • How does being ‘human’ create rights? (Donnelly, p. 13).
  • Possible answers:
    • Human needs (rejected by Donnelly, p. 14)
    • Life in dignity: Man’s moral nature; prescriptive account of human possibility
what is essential human nature
What is essential human nature?
  • Physical needs
    • Derives a definition of human rights from the scientific study of what humans require for survival.
    • Weakness: neglects dignity and possibility.
  • Mental and moral needs
    • Shifts attention away from what we are now to what we could be in the future.
    • Weakness: No agreement on human nature and possibilities.
  • Capacity to suffer and feel compassion
    • Shifts attention away from being human to issues of suffering and compassion.
    • Weakness: Focus on pain, rather than human possibility.
human possibility
Human possibility
  • Donnelly: “Human nature is a social project and more than a presocial given.”
  • “Treat a person like a human being and you will get a human being” (Donnelly, p. 15).
  • Rights constitute individuals (not communities).
  • Rights construct free and equal citizens.
from human nature to specific rights
From human nature to specific rights
  • What is the content and essence of human nature? (Donnelly, p. 16/17)
    • Ultimately, these philosophical theories will always be contentious (because they are based on assumptions).
    • However, we have a remarkable normative consensus on the content of rights (expressed in the UDHR).
  • A lack of foundations is not necessarily damaging to the idea of human rights.
the universal declaration model
The Universal Declaration Model
  • A Global Consensus?
  • 30 min video on the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
  • Donnelly, chapter 2: Rights are
    • Universal and Individual (p. 23-27)
    • Indivisible (p. 27-33)
    • States have the exclusive responsibility to implement human rights at home (p. 33-37).
what you should know
What you should know
  • What are human rights?
  • Where do human rights come from (normative and empirical)?
  • What are some justifications for upholding human rights?
  • What are contemporary challenges to the global human rights movement?
  • What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?