What Are Human Rights, Really?

Many of the issues that make it into the news, such as the right to medical care, housing, jobs, same sex marriage, wearing veils when taking oaths, and so on are argued on the basis of human rights but some of those rights are false. Most of the false rights originated in the so-called social and economic rights that constitute articles 22 to 28 of the 1948 UN declaration on rights. These are rights that were invented by idealists to fulfill their vision of an ideal society. Unfortunately, visions of an ideal society differ between individuals, cultures and religion-based societies. Human rights, however, are defined as being universal, innate to every person in the world, and absolute. Anything that is innate to something is discovered, not invented. This is true of rights innate to a person. Therefore, a theory of human rights must have the intellectual integrity of irrefutable logic and inferences if it is to qualify as universally and absolutely true. For instance, “with things that are equal not one is superior” is logic that cannot be denied. Neither can such inferences as, “all puppies in a litter have an equal claim on their mother’s breast”. With logic and an objective sense for apparent inferences we are equipped to find real human rights.

To begin: the case of any being coming into the world is a completely natural process, consisting of conception and development in the womb or egg, culminating in birth. It is a manifestation of the evolution of life on earth and its continuance. The products are beings of the same kind, alike physically and mentally. Because of this and of the sameness of their creation process these beings have the same status relative to each other. It is true of animals and human beings alike. In regard to humans it has already been famously stated that, “all people are created equal” (paraphrase). What this means is that all people have the same status as human beings which implies that no one may assume ownership of another with justification. Rather, every person owns himself or herself. This realization is the first step in discovering true human rights.

Self ownership in this context means being sovereign over oneself which in turn means that one has the sole right to control oneself. It does not mean ownership that can be transferred because it is innate to the person. As with ownership of anything a right is connected such that another person may not take any liberties with the property of another without permission. Self ownership therefore implies that a person may not be violated in any way by another person without justification. This is the first human right. It is often misstated as the right to life which is unfortunate because many people have extended this right to the point where a person has a right to have the necessities for life provided by other people. This extension is unwarranted and demonstrates the infusion of values and morality into what should be a discovery process. Correcting such distortions is essential to clarifying and improving the applicability of human rights theory.

If a person owns himself/herself what can we say about what he/she creates? We can say that he/she owns it because no other person, regardless of how much he contributed, has a stronger claim than the person who carried out the action to bring into being a new thing, composition, or condition. Anyone who contributed to the creation has a commensurate claim on the value of the creation but not to actual ownership. Ownership of what one creates is the second human right.

The third human right comes from the fact that every person has an equal claim on all that Nature/God provided. In theory this could be applied on a worldwide basis but that is impractical with the world divided into 194 countries at present and for the foreseeable future. We can only consider applying this principle now on a country basis. On such a basis it implies that all that Nature/God provided within a country is owned in common by all the permanent residents. As an equal owner each resident is entitled to enjoy Nature, which implies access, and to an equal portion of land, measured by value. The principle applies also to valuable materials from under the ground. When they are brought to the surface they are not ownerless but are owned in common by all residents. Their equity must be bought out by the company extracting the resource through a payment to every resident.

What about the animals? Their natural state is to run free in the wild but when viewed as a resource, whether it be for laborious work or just a pet, everyone has an equal claim on them. Therefore, anyone who wants to have full control of certain animals- in effect owning them- must obtain the concurrence of the affected community. This concurrence will probably come with conditions that include such matters as sufficient water, food, shelter, and restraint from abuse. Intrinsic to such conditions is the requirement that the owner take responsibility for the animals.

Bringing together the tenets of human rights theory it can be said that certain natural rights arise from natural ownerships. These are:

  • a person owns himself/herself
  • a person owns what he/she creates
  • every person has an equal claim on all that Nature/God provided
  • a person or group may keep animals through an arrangement with the community whereby the person or group takes responsibility for the animals

On the base of these natural rights more specific rights can be deduced by implication. These are:

  • A person has a right to personal security and inviolability.
  • A person has freedom of conscience, allowing him/her to choose from among all given or new hypotheses and constructs concerning religion, political disposition, social theories, philosophy, etc.
  • A person has the right to associate with others and to choose his/her associates.
  • A person owns what he/she has created whether in service to himself/herself or to others.
  • A person has a right to security of his/her property.
  • Every person is an equal owner of the natural environment and has a right to enjoy it.
  • Every citizen of a country has a right to equal compensation for the exploitation of natural resources.
  • Every permanent resident of a country has a right to an equal portion of land, measured by value.
  • The community (usually through its government) has the right to take control of animals kept by a person when that person defaults in his responsibility to control or take care of the animals.
  • Group rights are the aggregate of members’ rights, no less and no more.

The above can be called fundamental rights, possessed by every person or group. They are defined on the basis of the individual person. A group may have rights that are the sum of the rights of its members, no less and no more. Because the rights listed above are deduced from natural rights they are as real and absolute. Together with natural rights they comprise true human rights.

Being undeniably true in principle the human rights defined here are, like geometry and arithmetic, a reality of the human situation and have their special place too. They demand the security of every person and his/her property. They claim certain natural entitlements that enable every person to obtain his/her subsistence needs, either directly or indirectly, from the bounty of Nature/God, as the human race has done since the beginning. They claim ownership of what a person creates in any situation and fair payment for this equity. When implemented these claims support more equitable distribution of the wealth created in the world and ensure that everyone gets something through natural entitlement.

The vital importance of these rights implies that they be legislated into law in every country of the world and contradictory laws rescinded. As disruptive as this would be to the present order it is arguably the right path forward for mankind. Getting started on this path requires, firstly, an understanding of true human rights and awareness that false rights are confusing the world.






Filed under: Uncategorized | April 25th, 2016