Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Political Philosophy and Human Rights


Social Contract

Thomas Hobbes

Natural Law: Wiki, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Catholic Encyclopedia

John Locke, 2, 3, Locke vs. Hobbes

Locke and Jefferson, 2

Sources for an American Idea of Revolution

Thiroux and Kraseman:

Human Rights: Compare and contrast the authors' treatment (and conclusions) concerning Locke/Jefferson/Natural Rights (128) at the beginning of this section with their treatment and conclusions following their discussion of Human Rights/the U.N Declaration of Human Rights that comes at the end of the section (129-130).

"In practice, governments describe the limits of human rights" (128).  

Kaplan: Compare Hobbes. Compare Locke: Where does power come from? Who empowers governements? What are the government's responsibilities? What happens when the government's "description" conflicts with natural law or natural rights, or when the government's "description" conflicts with the people's description?

Question: Can logic be used to prove this proposition true or false?

"Rights are essentially entitlements" (128).

Kaplan: 1. Compare to Locke, Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution. 2. What does this proposition say about the nature of human rights? Does this proposition tell us anything about where human rights come from? 

Question: Can logic be used to prove this proposition true or false?


"A right is the rational basis for a morally justifiable demand" (129).

Kaplan: 1. Compare this definition of right to Locke and Jefferson. Are our authors reluctant to provide a Lockean-Jeffersonian definition of Natural/Human rights at this point in their discussion?  2. What does this proposition say about the nature of human rights? Does this proposition tell us anything about where human rights come from?  3. Question: Can logic be used to prove this proposition true or false?


"For Kant, 'a right is the moral capacity to bind others'" (129).

Kaplan: For Kant, then, all rights resolve to or belong to the state or magisterial power. Compare Hobbes. Compare Locke.   

Question: Can logic be used to prove this proposition true or false?

 
"Rights . . . are fundamental moral commodities because they enable us to stand up on our own two feet" (Feinberg: T & K, 129).
 
Kaplan: Commodities? Commodities!?   

Question: Can logic be used to prove this proposition true or false?

"Are human rights universal principles or culturally shaped values?" (131).

 
Refer to the notes from Week Six: Freedom vs. Determinism as you consider this question. 

On either side of this question, can logic be used to prove the respective proposition true or false?

 
Note the authors include articles from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (146) but do not include The US Constitution, the American Bill or Rights, or the Virginia Act of Religious Freedom, which are the key documents in the formulation of political theory, law and government in the United States, the country in which this textbook was published, and the country in which the course is being taught. As well, these documents have played a central role in driving the evolution of Human Rights around the world. Does the Declaration of Independence reflect "Englightenment conceptions," as the authors say in their discussion, or are there other dynamics and traditions to be taken into consideration? Should the Declaration be given more consideration?

These (and related) documents will be added to the list of terms:

English Bill of Rights (1689)

The Declaration of Independence, 2, text

The US Constitution, text

United States Bill of Rights, text

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists

Further Reading (not a term for the Final):

Important Bills of Rights around the Globe

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