Human rights

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1- Listen to the excerpt from Gorecki’s Symphony #3: Songs of Sorrow.

2- Read the text excerpts on the References wiki, reflect,

3-Read the news articles.

Use these to inform one thoughtful post …. Then two thoughtful replies to the questions listed below.

approximately 250 words


Wiki Reference

The essence of all morality is this: to believe that every human being is of infinite importance, and therefore that no consideration of expediency can justify the oppression of one by another. But to believe this it is necessary to believe in God. — R.H. Tawney.


We must all accept…that human life in all its forms is sacred…For some of us, this is a matter of religious faith; for others, of secular but deep philosophical belief. — Ronald Dworkin


The conception of human rights, based upon the assumed existence of a human being as such, broke down at the very moment when those who professed to believe in it were for the first time confronted with people who had indeed lost all other qualities and specific relationships — except that they were still human. The world found nothing sacred in the abstract nakedness of being human. — Hannah Arendt


It is often stressed that the idea of human rights is of recent origin, and that this is enough to dismiss its claims to timeless validity. In its contemporary form, the doctrine is certainly new, though it is arguable that it is a modern version of the natural law theory, whose origins we can trace back to the Stoic philosophers and, of course, to the Judaic and Christian sources of European culture. There is no substantial difference between proclaiming “the right to life” and stating that natural law prohibits killing. Much as the concept may have been elaborated in the philosophy of the Enlightenment and its conflict with Christianity, the notion of the immutable rights Mof individuals goes back to the Christian belief in the autonomous status and irreplaceable value of the human personality. Leszek Kolakowski


R.H. Tawney’s diary, August 13, 1913.

Ronald Dworkin. 1993. “Life is Sacred: That’s the Easy Part.” New York Times Magazine, May 16, 1993.

Hannah Arendt. 1973. The Origins of Totalitarianism. Harvest Press, p. 299.

Leszek Kolakowski. 1990. Modernity on Endless Trial, p. 214.

Newspaper Articles

Two Women, Heroes for Our Age” by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, March 13, 2019.

Federal Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Ruled Unconstitutional by Judge” by Pam Belluck in the New York Times, November 21, 2018.

(3) “Women are Fleeing Death at Home” by Azam Ahmed, New York Times, August 18, 2019

Thought Questions:

What does it mean to be a human being? Are we mere organisms — the product of a long evolutionary process, responding to the “forces of nature”, or, is there “something added”? Who are we that creates the exclusive rights called “human rights”? Is this title merely nomenclature — an abstract concept — for rights no different than the rights of other animals? Why do we need special rights that pertain exclusively to women? Does the discernment of universal fundamental rights that protect humans from each other form the crucial substance of sociology? What are the sociological obstacles to transforming the abstract principles into a reality? Please refer to the readings in your posts.

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