What is a "human right"?

  • July 24, 2013 · 7:00 PM

In a number of recent meetings I have attended, the conversation has included mention of something called "human rights".  Further, other terms have been presented, such as "legal rights", "natural rights", and just plain "rights", all of which should intend a different meaning, but have been used synonymously with "human rights".  In short there seems to be several terms for the concept and some confusion about how to utilize each term.  But the confusion is not just in usage.  Most would argue that "legal rights" has a clear meaning, but some would argue that the notion of "human rights" is more basic than "legal rights".  Some would argue that "human rights" and "natural rights" means basically the same thing, while some would argue that there is no such thing as a "natural right".  So I ask, just what is a "human right"?

 

Wikipedia states "Human rights are 'commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.  Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone).  These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in local, regional, national, and international law" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights).

 

However, elsewhere in Wikipedia, it is noted that in some older Western philosophies, human  rights "are a product of a natural law, stemming from different philosophical or religious grounds.  Other theories say human rights codify moral behavior which is a human social product developed by a process of biological and social evolution".  And further, "natural law theories base human rights on a 'natural' moral, religious or even biological order that is independent of transitory human laws or traditions" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_human_rights). 

 

Apparently there is some disagreement as to whether human rights are "natural" or man-made or perhaps even a little of both.  What do you think?  What are "human rights"?  Where do such rights come from?  Do they really exist or are they something we have made_up?  And if we have made them up, why have we?

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    Paula has found an article in Foreign Affairs that is related to our discussion last week on human rights.

    http://m.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139598/jacob-mchangama-and-guglielmo-verdirame/the-danger-of-human-rights-proliferation

    July 31, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    It was nice to finally meet everyone. Going back home via Rt.3 N to 175E to Rt 32 E to 95 N was infinitely easier than using 97. I recommend it to anyone coming from Columbia/Ellicott City. I thought the discussion was interesting and enjoyable. I like the fact that everyone is treated with respect regardless of their thoughts about the topic at hand. I particularly appreciated the oppurtunity to learn new facts and information.

    However, due to the distance from my home, I will probaly pick and choose from future topics and attend only those with high personal appeal....and along those lines, is anyone interested in discussing the likelihood that we may, in our lifetime, be able to visit other planets and/or the possibility that we may have been visited by extraterrestrials.

    July 25, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Interesting that you should bring that up. During last night's conversation about Hammurabi and his influence on Judaic writings, I was reminded of the Epic of Gilgamesh, written around 2500 BC, which has parallels in the Bible, especially Noah and the flood. That led to a recollection of the work of Zecharia Sitchin, who translated Sumerian cuneiform into a story about ET visitation to Earth and the formation of human origins. To date the primary criticism of Sitchin is disagreement with his translations, but he was Sumerian scholar. Whether or not he was correct, I am unable to say-I don't read Sumerian cuneiform-but his books do make for interesting reading.

      July 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Follow-up to some requests:

    1. Code of Hammurabi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi)

    2. George P. Murdock-Human Relations Area Files (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Murdock) and (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Relations_Area_Files).

    1 · July 25, 2013

  • Denis Murray S.

    nice discussion, good group, very pleasant evening

    July 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Dear Suzanne,
    I know I do not know you or friend. However, my family has experienced a similar loss about 9 or 10 years ago. It was the worst thing, in part because I felt so helpless in terms of giving meaningful comfort. Just be there for your friend and know that I will keep you and her in prayer. Lois.

    July 24, 2013

  • suzanne b.

    a dear friend of mine just lost her daughter, young, in her twenties. we are all devastated and i will be with her family today. hope to make it to the next meeting.....

    July 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I thin that often people want to claim their rights but are unwilling to own the responsiblities that are an intrinsic part of those rights. My perspective is as follows: If you are able but unwilling to be responsible in the exercise of your rights, and furthermore society is adversely affected by your irresponssibility- higher taxes to go into welfare payments, as just one example - then you lose those rights.

    Lois

    July 19, 2013

9 went

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Create a Meetup Group and meet new people

Get started Learn more
Bill

I started the group because there wasn't any other type of group like this. I've met some great folks in the group who have become close friends and have also met some amazing business owners.

Bill, started New York City Gay Craft Beer Lovers

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy