TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Nov 12 2012: Ethics and morality are never absolute nor at they universal. A case can be made for that point by looking at certain historical events in different countries that follow similar processes and result in similar, albeit not comparatively as extreme, consequences. As a comparison, the Jewish people of Europe and the Japanese-Canadians of WWII. These two people existed in two different places at the same time in history. Both groups were stripped of their national identities, both groups had all or nearly all of their property repossessed by government bodies, both groups were interned and subjected to horrible living conditions and hard labour. In Canada, the government stopped just a few steps short of the Nazi party. While keeping in mind the objective purpose of the above example (I do not readily have facts and figures available, though parallels can be drawn), can someone explain to me how such base human rights as citizenship, particularly of second-generation Japanese-Canadians, and all other rights associated with citizenship be taken away from a person, yet ethics and human rights still be considered universal?

    And stemming from that train of thought, how can ethics dictate morality, yet morality cannot have any bearing on the value of ethics? To me they are two parts of a whole that communicate equally with each other, and are also determined, or else manipulated, by interpretation.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.