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Do we need extensive human rights when we have morals?

Human rights are what make us human and enable us to respect humans and what a human stands for. We have human rights for most things in our daily life.
A new right is that prisoners (in the UK) should have the right to vote in the General Election. This has produced a large amount of controversy which, therefore, means that we are questioning our earlier morals which we thought were correct? How can we trust our instinctive moral decisions if other people can provoke us to question them?

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    Nov 2 2012: There are things that we know as wrong, if we have not hardened ourselves against good conscience. There are also things that are morally wrong because they would cause harmful frictions in human relationships if they are not prevented.
    It is certain that our inadequacies as far as good conscience is concerned would negatively affect our view on what should be acceptable for harmonious societal relationship.

    Let us note that the fact that morals are not always based on rational arguments does not mean that they should be done away with or that they are not helpful. There are so many things that are irrational but are part of our life, living and beliefs simply because we are human.
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    Nov 2 2012: I think questioning your ideas about right and wrong, or about anything else, is healthy.

    Many times our beliefs or values are actually inconsistent in a way we have not noticed until particular situations confront us in a way that demonstrates that. As we get older we can develop more nuanced views by allowing ourselves to reconsider matters we thought were simple.

    Often those instinctive moral beliefs are not instinctive at all but rather come to us by our having adopted other people's beliefs in a way we do not realize or remember.
    • Nov 2 2012: fritzie- i agree that questioning yourself is healthy and allows you to rediscover your morals and refine them.

      Therfore you are saying instinctive morals come from our experiances of moral issues? not our human nature?
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        Nov 2 2012: I think we label as moral some things that are instinctive, accepting them as "right' because they are instinctive. And that other things are learned.
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    Nov 7 2012: What morals do we have? What evidence regarding specifics? How do we define , 'what is moral'? To whom, by whom?

    If we had morals would we have poverty, greed, violence, war, genocide or destroying our once garden planet?

    If the 'status quo' represents our morals, I would conclude; we have none.
  • Nov 5 2012: As a natural circumstances, no right make anybody human, but the responsibilities or morals do. In cases when one disobey the natural circumstance, morals or responsibilities, the rights take the shape or form.

    Prisoners carry right to vote for forming their government, this is natural. As Gandhi says don't hate the sinner but the sin...

    A prisoner do also carry a birth and natural right to vote in common but in a very hypothetical event, where a mass prisoner vote for a person that can effect inversely the civic society, the things can denied or seen differently...

    By opposing their right we are manifesting their negative social status...and this can't lead them to good citizen again...

    with regards
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    Nov 2 2012: There are really only two possible sources of morals.
    1) Inbuilt by our Creator.
    2) Decided by popular consensus at any given time.
    The answer to your question will depend on which source you favour.

    • Nov 2 2012: Peter- would you be so kind as to explain your sources ?
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        Nov 2 2012: Hi Freddie,
        Logical deduction. Quite open to any other suggestions.

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      Nov 2 2012: Peter,
      You seem to be limiting yourself with two EXTERNAL sources of morals. I suggest that as thinking, feeling, multi-sensory, multi-dimensional human beings, there are many more sources for our beliefs, than the two external sources you mention. You seem to be giving your ability to make informed choices to a perceived "creator", or "popular consensus". You give up the ability, possibility and opportunity to think and feel for yourself?
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        Nov 2 2012: Hi Colleen.
        I guess moral decisions come from our minds. My suggestions are that these decisions are based on information which has either been :-
        1) Hardwired into us by our Creator. Or
        2) Worked out by our own minds based on knowledge & experience.
        So we do ultimately think & feel for ourselves, in either case we decide & take the consequences.
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    Nov 8 2012: No It's language that makes us human.
    The quest is to get the langugae to match our humanity.
    Both the words "rights" and "morals" are not yet properly evolved - no one really understands what these words mean.
    This is because the framework that defines them is not properly known.
    A part of humans being a language-based social creature is the enormous evolutionary advantage language gives us.
    Language allows us to share our perceptions - this has the affect of widening our personal field of perception by orders of magnitude.
    Having a wider field of perception increases our field of potential options(agency).
    Potential agency is diivided horizontally into potential advantage and potential disadvantage.
    These are both divided vertically into personal and social advantage/disadvantage.
    A moral choice of actions will be on the social side of potential advantage, and on the personal side of disadvantage.
    "Rights" are policy artifacts designed to maintain the moral bias without totally collapsing the field of personal advantage.
    But I must point out, that rights and morals are adaptive tools.
    They are not served by policy - which attempts to freeze them regardless of context - and context governs the adaptive range of these tools.
    Therefore morals and rights cannot be written into laws - unless the laws are reviewed constantly to match context. If the context demands that it is in the current moral "zone" to grant prizoners a vote, then law must be changed.
    In general, I'd say that prisoners should be allowed to vote - mostly because most prisoners have not committed immorality - i.e. drug use and crimes of property infractions are a reflection of the failure of law to addapt in a moral way - giving rise to a very great number of people imorally imprisoned.
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    Nov 7 2012: Human rights do not make us human. Rather, because we are human, we recognize certain human rights. But as has already been stated in numerous posts, many do not recognize the same human rights. The same is true for morals.

    There are those who live by the code; do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There are those who live by the code; do unto others before they do unto you. Both believe that they are right, but both are quite different.

    If everyone thought the same and lived by the same code, there wouldn't be grave injustices. But grave injustices exist because people see things differently as determined by circumstances of birth, culture, nationality, race, creed, color and the pressures of survival. So we must constantly revisit what we consider as right, moral, and just. I don't see this changing as long as we live in a dynamic universe with unpredictable outcomes.
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    Nov 7 2012: Re: "How can we trust our instinctive moral decisions if other people can provoke us to question them?"

    Great question. We should not trust our instinctive decisions. We should question them ourselves and be questioned by others. Decisions that stand the test can be trusted. You may know that in the Bible Jesus went through temptation immediately after baptism. Without temptation, any moral teaching is nothing but hypocrisy.
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    Nov 7 2012: Steven Pinker has an interesting idea regarding "mutual knowledge".

    It seems to be extremely important for morals. It's not enough that I know that "stealing is wrong" (for example). I also must know that everyone else knows it. Only then this rule works. Even when everyone has the same moral beliefs, but they don't know that other people share them as well, these beliefs will not work.

    This is why it is important to have documents like the Bill of Rights or gather once a week and openly profess moral values. Written documents always help people to "stay on the same page".
  • Nov 6 2012: morality are things which within our self we would not everybody believes in morality as Shakespeare once said nothing is good or bad is thinking that makes its different. morality is generally what is against an average thinker norms or ethos in the society
  • Nov 6 2012: ha . there you go assuming people have integrity again
  • Nov 5 2012: Are these two sets the same? I don't believe it is true. Subsets, etc. etc.
  • Nov 5 2012: Look I don't know much about UK but I do know this. Jails really don't rehabilitate people they make people worse. Look our justice system is flawed. Due to the fact that of favoritism. For instance petty criminals may be sent to years of jail for something others get months because the judges, jury, or lawyers may favor person for all the wrong reasons. One story I remember is that may associate in my high school was stopped and ticketed for jaywalking ( he was black and looked like a thug) and the police assumed that this guy was a drug dealer and tried to arrest him. Another story I remember is my friend Aaron who is black was smoking weed in the car with his Caucasian friends and was pulled over he was not arrested even though he clearly committed a crime. Now u may ask what this has to do with anything but let me explain. People who are the minority are more likely to be arrested, for petty crimes. Those who are poor usually can't afford a good lawyer and end up taking the court's defense attorney who most likely doesn't care about your case or what happens to u. So criminals good to jail longer than necessary. What happens in jail is not what u think. When being confined with Hard core Criminals forces people to do bad things out of survival therefore turning them into WORSE criminals. they end up stuck with this Jail mentality even when they leave, mainly because they lose sense of purpose in there. Living in jail is like slavery. My dad went and was forced to work in the field picking crops, and later died because he got cancer and it was treated to late due to the lack of medical care in there. So yes I can understand why prisoners want the right to vote.
  • Nov 4 2012: Our Human Needs should become our Human Rights.
    It is immoral (wrong) they aren't.
    Humans behave very differently when their needs are met. They are peaceful, inclusive of others, generous, helpful, kind, unafraid, social, supportive and many other good qualities that too many wish not to ascribe to their fellow men and women. They use the cop-out that the negative is simply human nature when it clearly is not.

    Humanity has known for a very long time, at least those who have a conscience, an empathy and connection to other humans, that it is very possible to feed, clothe, house, educate, transport, care for (medical,etc.) and not enslave others. Those needs cut across virtually any kinds of differences that are blindly thought of as barriers and hindrances to having universally agreed upon "human rights".

    Over time, they don't change, as some have alluded to when they mention that morals, as they are taught, vary widely, just a few doors down from where you live, and can and do change over time. This is true.

    But, everyone has these needs and not having them met creates fear. Humans commit actions they would not commit if they were met, leading to all the vast tributaries of destruction from the falling dominoes that follow.
    The inequality bred by the monetary system, creates reason and cause for fear and this leads to greed, crime, inequality, poverty, and slavery and those who share profits in creating inequality, are corrupted, and then make more poverty, slavery, and inequality through their investments in war and death.

    Are needs are not only water, food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical, although many would limit that list.

    If men and women didn't exert themselves to be secure in their persons, made no effort to harvest food, or construct shelter, there would be no survival. If they didn't reproduce there would be no population. If we cared not for the society of one another, there would be no society.

    Surely our needs are necessary and right.
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    Nov 4 2012: Morals?
    I'm not religious, so I don't know what that means. I think you can be a nazi with morals.
    The only horror about "immoral" actions is that it is harmful for the global society. Hence human rights.
  • Nov 3 2012: What was the rationale behind this?
  • Nov 3 2012: From Wiki:

    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 both national and international law. The doctrine of human rights in international practice, within international law, global and regional institutions, in the policies of states and in the activities of non-governmental organizations, has been a cornerstone of public policy around the world. The idea of human rights states, "if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights." Despite this, the strong claims made by the doctrine of human rights continue to provoke considerable skepticism and debates about the content, nature and justifications of human rights to this day. Indeed, the question of what is meant by a "right" is itself controversial and the subject of continued philosophical debate.

    Wiki for morality:
    Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and those that are bad (or wrong). The philosophy of morality is ethics. A moral code is a system of morality (according to a particular philosophy, religion, culture, etc.) and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness."

    I think trusting what you believe to be moral is fine, but temporal. What society deems a "human right" may change with the attitudes of society. Moral evolution is part of life and all societies that wish to advance.
  • Nov 3 2012: I don't know what an instinctive moral decision is. If it is the moral code you have as an adult, then I would ascribe it to the culture you grew up in. There are past cultures who had instinctive moral codes that would be in sharp disagreement with our current code, like slavery (been around since pre-bible times), religious persecution (popular since the crusades and certainly in full swing today) and race persecution (the bible fearing pilgrims used to wipe out entire Indian villages without much of a thought).
    There are modern counterparts to these types of persecutions where we will take any rationalization to behave like shits to each other.
    We need extensive human rights because they outline how we agree as civilized people, to treat people who are not like us or not in our tribe/clan/ethnic group.
    We need this because evolution has wired us to be selfish to ourselves and our group, but our intellect is trying to break this programming by limiting and controlling our bad behaviour and by setting standards that we consciously agree to uphold.
  • Nov 3 2012: THe most relevant question here is that what are right for me may not be right for you. It deals with the culture, values, family so it is very difficult to label one event as being right or wrong. The same situation has different interpretations for different people.
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    Nov 2 2012: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    —Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    The philosophy of morality is ethics. A moral code is a system of morality (according to a particular philosophy, religion, culture, etc.) and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code.

    If the definations above are true then the UN disregards the rights of nations to define their laws and the right to self govern. The issue of ethics and morals is a matter of the culture and the predominate religion.

    I am somewhat confussed over the term "instinctive moral decisions". It is a matter of law that determine the rights of the convicted. If you are convicted of a civil wrong your loss of rights and privildiges are seldom effected. However the conviction of felons have harsher penalities. Then then act of restoring rights to felons would also be a matter of law.

    Working in law enforcement has taught me that the felons have no interest in the good of the common man but rather are interest that are self serving and to their benefit. Voting on measures of gun control and drug controls would certainly get 100% block votes from felons because that would be of benefit to them.

    Upon serving their time and restoration of their rights they should be a part of society and as such be able to vote. While in the custody I do not support the right to vote. The opportunity for corruption is far to great. The amount of people who have been in jail or prison is growing and would be a political force if organized. Do these people represent the new morality? Is this a shift in cultural values?

    Social movements need examination for their reasons and long term effects. Who started it and to what ends or purposes. What are the long term goals of the group who initialized this movement.

    All the best. Bob.
  • Nov 2 2012: "Do we need extensive human rights when we have morals?"

    Yes, morals are rooted in culture, they may rely on religious (irrational) arguments. human rights are a codification of ethics, ethics don't need a root in any cultural belief, they have to be rational.
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    Nov 2 2012: Hi Freddie!
    "Do we need extensive human rights when we have morals?"

    I would say, that as human beings sharing this earth, human rights are natural for all of us to experience. That being said, however, it appears that some folks do not recognize the human rights of others, and need to be constantly reminded!

    I agree with Fritzie, that questioning our thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions, beliefs, etc., is a good practice for all of us. As our world evolves, and we evolve within the earth structure, we often gain new information, which may cause us to change our previous beliefs regarding human rights and morals.

    For example, there was a time when a large percentage of people in our world thought it was perfectly ok to own slaves. Thankfully, we (humans) began to see that human rights and morality were being challenged with that belief.

    With the example you offer of whether or not those incarcerated have the right to vote or not... I do not perceive that we are questioning "morals" necessarily, but perhaps our previous decision regarding voting? In general, we (humans) seem to be questioning the value of punishment and taking away all the rights of those incarcerated. Does this practice help rehabilitate them? Or simply punish them? And what is the better choice?
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      Nov 2 2012: A thought to add to yours, Colleen, is that people who tend to call others immoral will likely benefit most, I think, from self-reflection.
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        Nov 2 2012: And a good thought it is Fritzie!

        We have some folks here on TED who like to tell us that we are not living a "moral" life because we do not accept THEIR god, and THEIR religious beliefs. They tell us all the time that we are going to hell because of this........LOL

        As I recall, from years of bible study and catholic indoctrination (long ago abandoned because it NEVER made sense to me), there is something in there which says... "Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged".

        Yes...absolutely...those who judge OTHERS to be immoral would benefit MOST from SELF-REFLECTION! EXCELLENT point Fritzie!!! They may also benefit from walking their talk:>)
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          Nov 2 2012: I was not thinking about TED but rather about broader society. I am sure there is a whole psychology surrounding what makes one person or group like to label others as immoral.
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        Nov 2 2012: Fritzie,
        I was thinking about the broader society as well, and since we are here, now, on TED, that is an example that came to mind. It appears that TED is a pretty good cross section of humanity?

        A psychology surrounding what makes one person or group like to label others as immoral or inferior? I think it's called the pecking order! I admit, that is not the psychological get the idea I'm sure:>)
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          Nov 3 2012: Well, I would rather be immoral than amoral. Immoral is much more fun.
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      Nov 7 2012: Re: "Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged" - one of my favorite quotes, so frequently ignored by Christians.

      Here is an interesting study showing a strong positive correlation between homicides and dividing people into "good" and "evil" camps. Of course, those who judge are never in the evil camp. It's "the other guys".
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        Nov 7 2012: Interesting study Arkady.....thanks!

        A couple statements jump out at me...

        "Passionate attachment to religious group life encourages homicide"

        "When the moral and religious universe encompassing individuals involves cosmic struggles between benevolent and malevolent forces, moral struggles between "good guys" and "bad guys" and dichotomous choices between good and evil then there is little or no inclination to consider any middle ground, negotiation or flexibility in dealing with lessor conflicts and struggles in everyday life"

        "It may be that a religious cosmology with moral "wars" and "dueling deities" sets the stage for culture wars (Hunter), facilitate interpersonal wars and encourage people in conflict to think in terms of dueling contenders for righteosness".

        While I feel that many people in our world use religions and the holy books as valuable life quides, there seems to be some truth in this study regarding judging others. Perhaps that has to do with the "passionate attachment" of some people? And does this cause the inability to consider "middle ground, negotiation or flexibility"? It appears that it does.

        For example, we see the passionate attachment and inability to consider other perspectives with the abortion issue. Religious extremists say they object to killing the fetus, and with their objection, they are killing many health professionals and innocent people who are in their path when blowing up women's health clinics. That seems hypocritical, and perhaps their passion prevents them from seeing the hypocracy in their actions?

        They say their god is unconditionally loving with all people, and yet, some of us will be sent to hell because we do not embrace THEIR god?

        Yes indeed..."It may be that a religious cosmology...moral "wars" and "dueling deities" sets the stage for culture wars... facilitate interpersonal wars and encourage people in conflict to think in terms of dueling contenders for righteosness".
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          Nov 7 2012: Re: "Passionate attachment to religious group life encourages homicide" -- passionate attachment to a soccer team also seems to lead to violence. I think, this is a form of idolatry - worshiping the wrong thing.

          The article is interesting. These days, many people paint the whole religion black and portray it as the source of evil. Oddly, the article is pointing out that it's this very practice that causes strife. Some anti-religious folks seem to fall into the same pit from the other side.

          I think, religion is good when we use it to find and eradicate evil within ourselves. When we use it to find evil in others, we become evil ourselves.

          Abortion issue is fascinating. It's about a human being inside a human being. Which one do we favor? It's a wicked dilemma. It only leads to wicked choices. The only correct answer is "both" (getting rid of the dilemma itself). My favorite bumper sticker on this issue is "protect the rights of unborn women".
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    Nov 2 2012: Remember science is good but in the right hands.
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    Nov 2 2012: I try a small start on this direction focused on my domain of activity.
    I have this kind if problems and I can not fight becouse of lack of laws and also to much advances of science in my country. This is the project
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    Nov 2 2012: Hi, We need a very large and important law on privacy that should be focused on science.
    Is a very important issue that should be discussed at an international human right court but also should be gradualy made public this law just to people in trouble so the public is protected and only those with problems of this kind should know that their privacy was in some way invaded. And people should have the right to make complains for friends if they observe some problems without the afected person company to know and solved in a final process by authorities.
    Is a very important issue that affect all of us and future. Children are the one who suffer most becouse they do not know how to explain the bad feelings and is not well to tell to a children that has something wrong and scare him becouse do not know what you are talking about and feel only you scare. Is not good eather to teach the children about becouse this way you invade the childhood.