A lot of it has to do with Own idea. Please do not just put in chunks of source and put facts.
In arguing for your position, think of the arguments that might be made against it, and respond to them. In defending your position, offer what you believe are the most principled arguments you can make.
In thinking of objections to your argument, think of the best possible objections that someone on the other side might be able to come up with, i. e., give yourself a hard time. If you can respond to the other side at its strongest rather than at its weakest point, that can only help to strengthen your own opinion and make it that much more persuasive.
Michael Ignatieff begins his Tanner Lectures on "Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry" eloquently:
In If This Is a Man, Primo Levi describes being interviewed by Dr. Pannwitz, chief of the chemical department at Auschwitz.1 Securing a place in the department was a matter of life or death: if Levi could convince Pannwitz that he was a competent chemist, he might be spared the gas chamber. As Levi stood on one side of the doctor's desk, in his concentration camp uniform, Dr. Pannwitz stared up at him.
Levi later remembered: That look was not one between two men; and if I had known how completely to explain the nature of that look, which came as if across the glass window of an aquarium between two beings who live in different worlds, I would also have explained the essence of the great insanity of the third German [reich]."
Here was a scientist, trained in the traditions of European rational inquiry, turning a meeting between two human beings into an encounter between different species. Progress may be a contested concept, but we make progress to the degree that we act upon the moral intuition that Dr. Pannwitz was wrong: our species is one and each of the individuals who compose it is entitled to equal moral consideration.
Human rights is the language that systematically embodies this intuition, and to the degree that this intuition gains infuence over the conduct of individuals and states, we can say that we are making moral progress. Richard Rorty's definition of progress applies here: "an increase in our ability to see more and more differences among people as morally irrelevant." We think of the global diffusion of this idea as progress for two reasons: because if we live by it, we treat more human beings as we would wish to be treated ourselves and in so doing help to reduce the amount of unmerited cruelty and suffering in the world.
Our grounds for believing that the spread of human rights represents moral progress, in other words, are pragmatic and historical. We know from historical experience that when human beings have defensible rights-when their agency as individuals is protected and enhanced-they are less likely to be abused and oppressed. On these grounds, we count the diffusion of human rights instruments as progress even if there remains an unconscionable gap between the instruments and the actual practices of states charged to comply with them.
1. Human Rights in the Twenty-First Century
But today, at this moment in human history, are we succeeding or failing in our efforts to cultivate and guarantee the protection of international human rights? In "Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry," Michael Ignatieff suggests that a case might be made for both,. Depending on where you look or what you choose to emphasize, human rights promotion and protection may appear to be succeeding and failing simultaneously. Indeed, Ignatieff sees the international human rights movement at a "cross-roads" and in a temporary mid-life crisis, and he offers a number of suggestions about how best to reinvigorate the movement. See Igantieff's Tanner Lectures: "Human Rights: Politics and Idolatry" in their entirety.
2. A "Minimalist" Approach to Human Rights
Ignatieff's concerns are several, but can be easily identified and highlighted. He is concerned about the proliferation of human rights' claims. Too many rights make it difficult to gain international consensus. So, too, he believes, the purpose of human rights should not be any particular conception of the good life or even of social justice, but simply protection from cruelty and degradation. He advocates a "minimalist" approach and recommends that a human rights regime to be effective at all ought to seek the protection only of negative freedoms. As he says, "human rights can command universal assent only as a decidedly 'thin' theory of what is right, a definition of the minimum conditions for any kind of life at all."
He notes that "people from different cultures may continue to disagree about what is good, but nevertheless agree about what is insufferably, unarguably wrong." But, as others have noted, there is "slippage" within even this fairly straightforward position. Given Ignatieff's view, you might think "torture" would be one of those things that everybody would agree was "insufferably, unarguably wrong," completely "out of bounds," "off the table," as it were, but if the documents released after the Abu Ghraib Prison Abuse Scandal any indication, there is less than universal assent even here.
So, too, although a minimalist approach to human rights advocacy may have much to recommend it, such an approach is out of line with the North/South world divide. Thus, Gara LaMarche can write in "The American Propsect":
If minimalism is meant to strengthen the credibility of Western rights advocates, it is likely to have no such effect in much of the world, particularly in many countries where the challenge to universalism is greatest. That is because Ignatieff's minimalist approach leaves little room for the social and economic rights also embodied in international covenants and in many national constitutions. No one who works on human-rights issues in the developing world can fail to be aware that virtually all frontline human-rights advocates there -- not to mention many in Europe and the United States -- do not accept such a hierarchy of rights. Though economic rights -- such as the right to basic subsistence -- are still largely aspirational, that doesn't mean they are not deeply important to human-rights advocates (and their critics) in much of the world. In much of Africa and Asia, it is the perceived selectivity of many Western human-rights advocates, not their broader concerns, that undermines their credibility.
3. The "Relativist" Challenge to Human Rights Universalism
Ignatieff is made anxious, too, by too much talk of the universality of human rights, exposing proponents to "serious intellectual attack" that, in turn, has raised questions about "whether human rights deserves the authority it has acquired: whether its claims to universality can be justified or whether it is just another cunning exercise in Western moral imperialism."
Ignatieff identifies "three distinct sources of the cultural challenge to the universality of human rights," one from Islam, one from East Asia and one from within the West itself.
As Ignatieff writes:
The challenge from Islam has been there at the beginning. When the Universal Declaration was being drafted in 1947, the Saudi Arabian delegation raised particular objection to Article 16, relating to freedom of religion. On the question of marriage, the Saudi delegate to the committee examining the draft of the universal Declaration made an argument that has resonated ever since through Islamic encounters with Western human rights:
The authors of the draft declaration had, for the most part, taken into consideration only the standards recognized by western civilization
and had ignored more ancient civilizations
which were past the experimental stage, and the institutions of which, for example, marriage, had proved their wisdom through the centuries. It was not for the Committee to proclaim the superiority of one civilization
over all the others or to establish uniform standards for all countries of the world.
This was simultaneously a defense of the Islamic faith and a defense of patriarchal authority. The Saudi delegate in effect argued that the exchange and control of women is the very raison d'etre of traditional cultures, and that the restriction of female choice in marriage is central to the maintenance of patriarchal property relations.
Ignatieff goes on to say that despite "recurrent attempts to reconcile Islamic and Western traditions . . . these attempts at syncretic fusion between Islam and the West have never been entirely successful: agreement by the parties actually trades away what is vital to each side. The resulting consensus is bland and unconvincing."
This prompts Ignatieff, however, to resist the Islamic challenge and to defend those Western human rights standards that rest upon negative freedoms. He condemns the "Western reaction to the Islamic challenge" that he calls "equally ill-conceived," a form of "cultural relativism" that he argues "concedes too much."
4. Making the Case
Drawing on the reading make a case for or against a minimalist approach to human rights and a defense of human rights as primarily aimed at protecting human agency as opposed to full conception of human dignity as conceived by others such as Henry Shue in BASIC RIGHTSand James Nickel in MAKING SENSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS, to name but two.
The strongest advocate from the reading for a two-pronged approach to human rights, to a defense of subsistence rights alongside rights of liberty is the argument put forward by Henry Shue in his book on BASIC RIGHTS As he argues, "the same reasoning that justifies treating security and liberty as basic rights also supports treating subsistence as a basic right." As he goes on to say, "The parallel is especially important . . . because the defenders of liberty usually neglect subsistence and the defenders of subsistence often neglect liberty." What is your view? Are you drawn to the "minimalist" solution? If so, why? If not, why not?
5. Negative and Positive Rights
And what about Shue's view and his placing certain basic "positive" rights on the same footing as "negative" rights? Are you sympathetic to his approach? If so, why? If not, why not?
6. The "Minimalist" Response to the "Relativist" Challenge
And finally what do you think about Ignatieff's response to the "relativist" challenge to human rights? Are you convinced? If so, why? If not, why not? Much of the reading in both Global Ethics and Global Justice as well as in Henry Shue's Basic Rights and James Nickel's Making Sense of Human Rights challenge the relativist view of human rights and would, more than likely, take issue, too, with Ignatieff's minimalist response to the relativist challenge. What's your view? What do you think?
Human Rights Documents and Treaties
African Charter on Human and People's Rights (African Union 1981)
American Convention on Human Rights (OAS 1969)
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (OAS 1948)
Charter of the United Nations (1945)
Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (UN 1979)
European Convention for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950)
European Social Charter
Genocide Convention (UN 1948)
Protocol of San Salvador (OAS 1988)
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (UN 1998)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN 1948)
Human Rights Organizations
Doctors without Borders
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists
International Red Cross
Organization of American States
Human Rights Websites
University of Minnesota Human Rights Library
Derechos Human Rights
Human Rights Watch
James Nickel, "Human Rights."
Leif Wenar, "Rights."
Kenneth Campbell, "Legal Rights."
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, "Consequentialism."
Larry Alexander, Michael Moore, "Deontological Ethics."
Robert Johnsonr, "Kant's Moral Philosophy."
Fred D'Agostino, "Contemporary Approaches to the Social Contract."
Articles from Global Ethics and Justice
Charles R. Beitz, "Justice and International Relations"
Joseph H. Carens, "Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders"
David Miller, "The Ethical Significance of Nationality"
Robert E. Goodin, "What Is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?"
Thomas Pogge, "Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty"
Jeremy Waldron, "Special Ties and Natural Duties"
Charles R. Beitz, "Cosmopolitan Ideals and National Sentiment"
Stephen M. Gardiner, "The Real Tragedy of the Commons"
Thomas Pogge, "An Egalitarian Law of Peoples"
United Nations Agreements on Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights
Convention Against Torture
Convention Against Genocide
The Geneva Conventions
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention on Eliminiation of Discrimination Against Women
Charter of the United Nations
Michael Levin, "The Case for Torture"
Seumas Miller, "Torture," Stanford Encyclopedia
Henry Shue, "Torture," Philosophy & Public Affairs
Torture at Abu Ghraib
THE ABU GHRAIB PHOTOGRAPHS
Photographs of abuse by American soldiers, taken at the Iraqi prison.
TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go.
CHAIN OF COMMAND by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
How the Department of Defense mishandled the disaster at Abu Ghraib..
THE GRAY ZONE by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib.
HEARTS AND MINDS by DAVID REMNICK
The real failures at Abu Ghraib.
UNCONVENTIONAL WAR by HENDRICK HERTZBERG
The consequences of bending the rules of engagement
WHAT HAVE WE DONE? by SUSAN SONTAG
Photographs, Memory and Abu Ghraib.
THE COMING WARS by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
What the Pentagon can now do in secret.
OUTSOURCING TORTURE by JANE MAYER
The secret history of America's "extraordinary rendition" program.
Internationalal Human Rights Lawyer.
CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
The Center is a non-profit organization dedicated
to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by
the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights..
THE ROAD TO ABU GHRAIB
Human Rights Watch Report.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND ASIAN VALUES by AMARTYA SEN
Are human rights uniquely Western and an obstacle to economic development?
THE SINGER SOULTION TO WORLD POVERTY & OTHER LINKS
Singer, "Famine, Affluence & Morality" - PDF File
"THE SINGER SOLUTION TO WORLD POVERTY"
Garrett Hardin, "Life Boat Ethics The Case Against Helping the Poor"
"Shallow Pond and Envelope STUDY GUIDEE
PETER SINGER'S WEB SITE
Onora Nell, "Lifeboat Earth" - PDF File
Hugh LaFollette and Larry May, "Suffer the Little Children" in World Hunger and Morality
ed. William Aiken and Hugh LaFollette Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1996
September 1974, pp.38-43, 124-126.
William Aiken, "The 'Carrying Capacity' Equivocation: Reply to Hardin,"
Social Theory and Practice, v.6(1), Spring 1980, pp.1-11.
A Visual Display from Paris "Six Billion Human Beings
Amartya Sen, "Population: Delusion and Reality,"September 22, 1994
from his lecture before the United Nations on April 18, 1994
Amartya Sen, "Hunger: Old Torments and New Blunders," The Little Magazine,Volume 2.
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