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Is all morality about human rights?

Is the whole of morality about human rights, or human rights the whole of morality? Are there other types of moral concern than human rights concerns? One can argue that morality is a human construct as we are the only species (at present) able to recognize and live by its existence. Thus, morality can only apply to human rights because we are the only species able to even enter into conversation with it in the first place.

With that in mind, do all moral considerations necessarily only relate back to the protection of these rights; so that concerns for animals or the environment are relevant only as moral concerns in terms of how they can directly/or indirectly affect human rights? Or is morality a universal concept that extends far beyond the remit of Human Rights and if so how can one justify such a position?


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  • Nov 12 2012: Human rights, as a theoratical concept, is political and sometimes applied as legal frameworks. As such it is not necessarily moral (or as others below suggested ethical). [Quick definitions: moral- study of good and evil to direct human behavior; ethics- rational rules and procedures for proper etiquette (proper in the sense of agreed values].

    There are some shared foundations and concerns as all three are human constructions that questions 'right' behavior and whose answers are often derived from similar conceputal systems.

    For instance, an American Christian might argue that morality is founded in God's word. God gave us free will to choose good or evil and his word gives us the direction of good and means to rebuke evil. One aspect of the good pursued by the individual can be granted and protected by the government in the form of "human rights" as God does. If God grants individuals the freedom to pursue the good, then government ought to do the same in a similar fashion that God does.

    An easy example to formulate to show the difference between morality, human rights, and ethics within a general system)

    American Christian System:
    Morality-immulating God (good); Human Rights- freedom to pursue the good (study, speaking, worship, challenge, etc--inquiry); ethics- laws (or rules) of those involved (power-consensual value-shared) through the rational form (logical development from foundational values) of deciding conduct and the judging of behavior within the group (mutual or visting members) as God would.

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