Publication details

Proč pouze lidská? Potíže s univerzalitou lidských práv

Title in English Why Only Human? The Problem with the Universality of Human Rights


Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Právník
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Law

Keywords human rights; animal rights; justification; argument from marginal cases; reasonable disagreement
Description The article is a contribution to the ongoing debate on human rights and their possible extention to animals. If we accept the existence of natural rights, we should be also able to justify why they belong only to human beings. However, trying to define the criterion seems problematic. The argument from marginal cases shows that the characteristics possessed only by human beings are not possessed by all human beings, and characteristics possessed by all human beings are not possessed only by human beings. However, if we try to dismiss the problem by implying as a standard criterion on humanity as such, then there is a problem involving evolutionary theory. It tells us that the evolution of modern man was not only gradual, but there were also several different human species coexisting. The fundamental problem of human rights is the necessity to draw the line not only at present but also for past times if we want to secure their universality. It is possible to expand the concept of natural rights to animals, but we would have to deal with the same problem of justification. That is because there is no disagreement in the field of empirical facts, but a disagreement in morals where no cognizable truths exist.