TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What, to you, are basic human rights?

This is quite a tough one to sum up in one discussion:

"...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."

1- Which ones summarize the scope of liberties, as a whole?
(name the ones -or your own- that give the whole perspective of liberties)

2- Can you define the basic human rights in terms of material, dimensional, spiritual- or any combination thereof?

3- Could these change? What could make them change?

4- Are they sustainable?

5- Also: where do those rights come from?

PS- Please don't make Q5 such an issue here, this isn't the purpose.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 5 2011: Nick, I'm pretty sure that the universe has a great number of higher powers that hold us all and everything else in their sway, powers like gravity, electromagnetic radiation of various types or frequencies have enormous influence on our solar system and our planet, climate, geography and so much more. These powers and the way they behave are probably responsible for man's invention of anthropomorphised gods, the ignorance, lack of reason and fear of which then generated religions, at a guess.

    And curiously, according to one of the latest TED talks, morality may be caused by a molecule called oxytocin, in any case, both morality and privilege exist to the extent that we have words for them and a generally agreed definition for each, regardless of how or why each is abused.

    Rights, though having both a word and a definition, are hard to find. Without qualifying prefixes a right is an absolute. With prefixes they turn (from being greedy demands like the right to freedom or liberty, or subsidies, respect or the dole etc) into the privilege of relative freedom or liberty that living in a civilised society may bring.

    It is far better to use the word privilege simply because it is well established as a relative condition, and that is the condition of every aspect of our lives except conception and death. There is no perfection and extremely few absolutes to be found in the course of our lives. It is well to face up to it and as Laurens suggests:

    “It may be more interesting to focus on minimal conditions that have to be in place in order for "human rights" to arise.” I disagree with his use of “human rights”. Any qualified absolute is a nonsense but the word “right” is used without any regard for the responsibilities or earned respect that so generally accompanies privilege. The minimal conditions would need to include the development of far more respect for the responsibilities that come with the privilege of living in a civilised society.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.