tt.humanist :: views :: rights
"One person's rights may conflict with another person's. How do we balance rights that clash, as they often do?"
A humanist would probably weigh up the consequences and give priority to those rights which maximise human happiness and welfare. Selfish or frivolous claims could be dismissed if they would lead to social disadvantages or infringe the rights of others.
Humanists are non-religious people who live by moral principles based on reason and respect for others, not obedience to dogmatic rules. They promote happiness and fulfilment in this life because they believe it is the only one we have, and look to human beings and human institutions to ensure these (for humanists are convinced that no deity will).
The basic humanist principles underlying their support for human rights are: respect for all humans as worthy of equal consideration; support for freedom of belief and expression; and tolerance for all beliefs and ways of life as long as they do not harm others.
So humanists oppose racism, sexism, torture, unfair imprisonment, persecution because of beliefs, and vast inequalities in wealth and education, all of which stand in the way of overall human welfare and progress. Human rights conventions, declarations and acts are attempts to guarantee decent treatment for all human beings.
The declaration accepted by all member states of the United Nations, is based on belief "in the dignity and worth of the human person" and requires all states, groups and individuals to observe and promote respect for rights and freedoms.
This international agreement on how we should treat each other, and how states should treat their citizens, supports the humanist viewpoint that there are important moral values shared by all rational people, regardless of race, culture or religion, because they are based on our shared human nature and needs. For example, no one wants to be murdered, so murder is wrong, so we grant each other the right not to be murdered. No one would like to be a slave, so slavery is wrong, so human beings declare that it is a human right not to be enslaved.
How much should one intervene in the affairs of foreign countries to impose human rights? Would intervention be an infringement of their right to do things their way?
Do children's rights ever clash with parents' or other adults' rights? Does the right of parents to "education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions" clash with children's rights to "seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds?