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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 17 2012: /
    Hi Jennifer

    I think the definition of morality in practical everyday words is USUALLY about human rights and usually holding human rights as the most important consideration. Our legal systems and political machines function this way.

    But we have observed animals risking self safety for another, most notably mothers.

    Morality as a universal concept can be justified in terms of empathy. Empathy is recognized as a positive value, a good, and it can be applied by asking the right questions when there is no legal precedent. In questions of cruelty to animals, for example, the question is not whether the animals understand fair treatment but rather do they feel pain. We can make universal application as we reflect on the element within ourselves that experiences the rightness or wrongness of an action.

    I have known vegetarians who made a moral decision not to ever cause the death of an animal, and that morality might seem extreme to some, but we are faced with a similar perspective when we think about how future generations will suffer due to our carelessness.

    My wish is that morality does eventually become a generally accepted universal concept based on a growing sense of human potential and empathic potential. This is like a growing circle that should expand to encompass our blue marble.

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