TED Conversations

Joanne Donovan


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What are human rights? How do we decide and are they universal?

Are human rights the starting point we begin with when looking at how our societies function, or are there more important issues? How true is this statement; 'when people focus on being ethical without being pragmatic they end up being neither.'


Closing Statement from Joanne Donovan

Thanks to everyone who participated in this conversation. Some excellent threads. All the best to you and your families for the new year 2012. Peace.

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  • Dec 16 2011: In regards to universal human rights, if they are being conceptualized through our moral framework and not so much our culture specific ethical systems, I guess that would make them universal enough to be considered universal. However, "human rights" can embody alot of different ideas that various cultures won't agree on, i.e: democracy, freedom of speech, etc. Also, cultures have different aspects about them that influence our views, i.e: some cultures reflect a strong presence of personal accountability and are less inclined to feel bad for ppl who put themselves in bad situations. So i guess, as far as universality, I say it depends on the actual "human rights" subject and details surrounding it.

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