Thursday, October 14, 2010

Following Up On The Last Post

This comment over at Anti-Climacus struck me:
My international law professor said something similar on our first day of class: just because a rule of international law is violated doesn't mean the rule doesn't exist. His analogy was, just because people steal doesn't mean domestic laws prohibiting theft aren't real or meaningful, so why should we believe that just because people violate international law - and don't always get caught - the law isn't "real?" The same applies to human rights; in fact, we often think about their existence solely *because* they are being violated.

I've made a similar argument with Alan. Saying that rights aren't merely the product of a social contract, but that there was and is a Right to Speech that has been to greater or lesser extents infringed upon by various political arrangements. So, why do I object to international human rights?

I think it comes back to positive versus negative rights. The Right to Speech can exist in the absence of any government. The Right to Healthcare or Employment or any other similar things that are proposed as Human Rights lately presuppose a government to provide them. When you add in the supposed universal and international nature of these ever expanding and amorphous rights, it's just too much for me to stomach.

I don't know if this distinction is made on solid philosophical or logical grounds, but that's how I'm rationalizing it right now.

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