Human Rights by mifei


									Human Rights

   Chapter 7
               Human Rights
• What if a doctor found out that someone had a fatal heart
  condition and knows people that could use the organs to
  stay alive? She could inject some poison, the patient
  would never know and several people would be able to
  live long lives.
• It sounds like an argument that a utilitarian might
  approve of. Even a rule utilitarian would have a hard
  time getting around such an argument because a rule
  could be qualified in such a way that would not show
  why an act like this should not be committed.
• Why shouldn’t the doctor kill the ill patient? Most
  people would say because the patient had a right to
  his/her life.
               Human Rights
• Rights have no obvious connection with utility. Suppose
  you save money for the new car, house, or vacation and
  someone tells you that you must give the money to the
  homeless. You might say, “ I earned it. I have a right to
  do with it what I want.”
            The Nature of Rights
• What is a right?
• What is an entitlement?
• What is a person entitled to and why?
• A right is more than a claim, it is a justified claim. But can someone
  have a right without making a claim?
• A right may be a certain amount of moral space on which others may
  not trespass.
• If you have a right, then others have an obligation.
    – What about kings or babies?
• A right is not merely a privilege. See page 193
• People such as Thomas Jefferson, and John Locke believed that there
  are God-given rights.
• Some people believe that rights go with sentience – the capacity to
         The Nature of Rights
• Some people think that humans have intrinsic worth.
• Still another account of rights is based on rationality.
  Aristotle believed that what made humans distinct from
  everything else was their rationality. Men are rational
     The Right to Life: Suicide
• Some people think that humans have intrinsic worth.
• Still another account of rights is based on rationality.
  Aristotle believed that what made humans distinct from
  everything else was their rationality. Men are rational
       The Right to Life: Suicide
• Voluntary consent is an essential feature of rights.
• Suicide is defined as the intentional taking of one’s own
• Arguments against the morality of suicide:
   –   The irrationality of suicide. What about Socrates?
   –   Slippery slope argument
   –   The religious argument
   –   It hurts the people that are left behind
• Arguments for the morality of suicide:
   – A person has a right over his or her own body and own life. She is
     a self. She is the only one that feels the pain.
   – Please see page 196
The Right to Life: Mercy Killing
• The word euthanasia comes from the Greek and
  originally meant “a good death.”
• Should assisted suicide be legal?
• If assisted suicide was not illegal, then should there be
   – Should there be a cooling-off period?
• What about mercy killing?
   – Could greedy relatives speed up your death?
   – If a patient knew this was going on, couldn’t it undermine patient
• Passive euthanasia – letting a person die.
• Active euthanasia – is actually doing something that kills
  the person.
• Can passive euthanasia actually be more cruel than active
The Right to Life: Mercy Killing
• Arguments against allowing someone to die:
   – Abandonment of patients
   – The possibility of finding cures
   – Religious reasons

• Some arguments for allowing someone to die:
   – Individual rights
   – End suffering
   – The right to die with dignity
• What are the rights of a mother’s choice vs. the rights of a fetus?
• According to Hospers, abortion was common in classical Greece
  and Rome, as it was in most pre-civilized societies. The Old
  Testament is full of prohibitions on dress and diet, but it never
  mentions abortion.
• Roe vs. Wade held that abortion is homicide only after the fetus
  is “formed,” in the third trimester of pregnancy.
• Two extreme views:
• Pro-choice: The final decision on whether to abort is the
  mother’s, and whatever she decides is final. It’s her body, and
  it’s for her to say what she will do with it.
• Pro-life: Abortion is always wrong because from the moment of
  conception there is another person inside the mother who has as
  much right to life as she has; and to extinguish that life is murder.
  The abortion doctor is as much a murderer as the hired killer.
• Many people do not hold extreme positions. They are often
  willing to modify their position:
• People that are generally pro-life may make exceptions:
    –   When the life of the mother is endangered.
    –   When the pregnancy is the result of rape.
    –   When it is the result of incest
    –   When the child would have been born with a very serious hereditary disease.
• There is controversy about when a fetus becomes a human being. How
  are we going to define a human being?
• Does life start:
    –   At conception?
    –   When a mother feels the baby move inside her?
    –   When brain waves first occur?
    –   When the fetus can survive outside of the womb?
• Judy Jarvis Thomson’s article
                    Freedom of Expression
•       U.S. Constitution: First Amendment
    –      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
           exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the
           people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
•       John Stuart Mill defended liberty in his famous essay On Liberty. He said, suppose
        that the view that government is trying to suppress is true:
           1.   The authorities, in denying this, are assuming that they are infallible. If they don’t
                fear the opposing view, why would they want to suppress it? Why not let it be
                discussed publicly so that people can determine for themselves whether those in
                authority or right?
           2.   It is only be testing a view in the marketplace of ideas that we can come to know
                whether it is true. If it is suppressed, without a free and open discussion and the
                presentation of contrary evidence, we can never know whether it is true; we can
                only assume it.
           3.   Almost every important idea has some time been suppressed by those in power.
                Such suppressions have often set back human progress for centuries and kept all
                but the most courageous from expressing their ideas at all. This is a tremendous
                loss to the human race and a shameful way to treat humankind’s most original and
                creative minds.
           4.   Some say that certain views, such as religious ones, should be instilled in
                everyone, whether known to be true or not, for the sake of utility, “to hold together
                the moral fabric of society.” But, said Mill, the utility of an opinion is itself a
                matter of opinion and just as subject to dispute as is the opinion itself.
             Freedom of Expression
•   What if the opinion the authorities are suppressing is false?
•   They cannot know it to be false unless they submit it to open
•   John Stuart Mill tries to show why freedom of speech has long-term
•   “If all mankind minus one,” he wrote, “were of one opinion, and
    only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no
    more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the
    power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
•   Are there occasions when suppressing a view (even a true one)
    might increase utility?
              Freedom of Expression
•    Sedition:
    1. Conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state.
    2. Insurrection; rebellion.
         Most people believe that those who publicly advocate the overthrow of the
         government should be stopped. However, the government is often
         selective in the enforcement of such laws.
     In times of war sedition laws are much more repressive. During
     World War I:
        “It became criminal to advocate heavier taxation instead of
     bond issues, to state that conscription was unconstitutional
     through the Supreme Court had not yet held it valid, to say the
     sinking of merchant ships was legal, to urge that a referendum
     should have preceded our declaration of war, to say that war
     was contrary to the teachings of Christ.”

     Have the sedition laws become more repressive during the “war on terror?”
                Freedom of Expression
•       Incitement to Riot:
    –      Some speech is construed as being action rather than speech. John Stuart
           Mill gave an example. A union foreman approaches a crown of angry
           workers in front of the factory and shouts “Burn the place down!” Should
           she be arrested, although she has only said a could of words?

•       Defamation
    –      communication to third parties of false statements about a person that
           injure the reputation of or deter others from associating with that person.

•       Obscenity
    –      What is obscene, lewd, and so forth? Ulysses was considered obscene,
           but most people today would not consider it to be obscene. Is obscenity in
           the eye of the beholder?
•       Fraud
    –      When is it illegal to make false statements?
                Property Rights
•   Your property is what belongs to you.
•   There are some things that ownership does not entitle
    you to do. You can’t lure people in from the streets, kill
    them, and bury their bodies in the basement. You can
    violate a right to life.
•   If a stream runs through your land, you may not pollute
    it and thereby deprive your neighbor of potable water.
•   May you build a fence around your property and
    electrify it? May you raise pigs in your backyard in the
    city? May you raise poisonous snakes if you are very
    careful that they don’t get out?
•   Right of eminent domain.
                     Property Rights
•       Initial Acquisition of Property
    –      John Locke’s theory.
    –      The Lockean proviso says we have the right of acquisition only
           if we leave "enough and as good" for others.
    –      Nozick: tomato juice in the ocean
    –      David Schmitz’ argument. (see pages 213-214)

•       Transfer of Property
    –      How is property justly acquired?
    –      Reparations – how much do you pay back?
          The Right to Privacy
•   Should a psychiatrist’s records about her patient be
    private, or may she sometimes break confidentiality
    with her patient and tell others?
•   Should you be required to reveal to others whether you
    have AIDS, or is it “Strictly your own business”?
•   Should others be able to find out how much you have in
    your checking account?
•   Should credit agencies be permitted to reveal your
    financial status to others?
•   Should others be able to take a picture of you without
    your consent?
•   … (see pages 216-217)
•   Privacy is never mentioned in the Constitution. The
    fourth amendment affirms “the right of the people to be
    secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
    effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
•   Do you think privacy rights or more or less respected
    than they were 10 years ago? Why?
           Welfare Rights
• Do rights arise from human needs?
• Do the hungry have a moral claim on the
  rest of us?
• Are all people on welfare disadvantaged?
  Should that matter?
• What about government inefficiency? (see
  the bottom of page 223 and top of page 224)
 Positive versus negative rights
• Negative rights: They require of others only
  the duty of non-interference.
• Welfare rights require positive actions.
• Specific rights vs. general rights.
• Does welfare give people “the right to
  enslave?” (See bottom of page 226)
            Children’s Rights
• Children have positive rights: They did not ask to
  be born, and the parents who brought them into
  existence have a duty to take care of them until
  they can take care of themselves.
• Do children have the same negative rights that
  every human being has? Do they have the right
  not to be victims of coercion?
• Children are not the property of the parents.
• The parents are the guardians of their children.

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