The present paper aims at addressing a crucial legal conflict in the information society: i.e., the conflict between security and civilrights, which calls for a “fine and ethical balance”. Our purpose is to understand, from the legal theory viewpoint, how a fine ethical balance can be conceived and what the conditions for this balance to be possible are. This requires us to enter in a four-stage examination, by asking: (1) What types of conflict may be dealt with (...) by means of balancing? (2) What is meant by balancing? Is it a metaphor that hides and dissimulates discretionary powers and subjective decisions or a rational instrument that helps us cope with conflicts between fundamental values and interests? (3) What models of balancing are available to us? Are these models irreducible to each other? What can provide us with a common understanding of different models of balancing? (4) How can the crucial issues of rational controllability, predictability, and homogeneity of legal decisions be dealt with? Our paper will try to answer those questions by trying to reconstruct the act of balancing in terms of a rational legal reasoning, which relies upon information. In fact, every judicial decision contains some information that is delivered to the legal system: that information may serve as the basis for future evaluations, decisions, and actions, and thus influence the way we recognize and hence we protect our values, interests, and rights. In this perspective, our examination will attempt to understand those questions in informational terms. This informational treatment can provide us with a more universalistic understanding of those issues and offer us a novel way to conceptually deal with them. To this aim, we will avail yourself of Luciano Floridi’s philosophy of information: notably, we believe his constructionist conception of epistemology is crucial, based on the Maker’s Knowledge approach and his solution of the upgrading problem (i.e., from information to knowledge) in terms of a network theory of account. The informational approach will help us having a better understanding of the balance between competing interests. (shrink)
Jesus Christ may be regarded as the chief spirit of agitation and innovation. He himself declared, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” One cannot delve seriously into the centuries of activism and scholarship against racism, Jim Crowism, and the terrorism of lynching without encountering the legacies of Timothy Thomas Fortune and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Black scholars from the 19th century to the present have been inspired by the sociological and economic works of Fortune and Wells. Scholars of (...) American philosophy, however, continue to ignore their writings, their theoretical contributions and their ethical aspirations, preferring instead the insipid declarations of white turn of the century .. (shrink)
The paper examines the connection between online security and the protection of civilrights from a legal viewpoint, that is, considering the different types of rights and interests that are at stake in national and international law and whether, and to what extent, they concern matters of balancing. Over the past years, the purpose of several laws, and legislative drafts such as ACTA, has been to impose “zero-sum games”. In light of current statutes, such as HADOPI in (...) France, or Digital Economy Act in UK, the paper intends to illustrate how more satisfactory solutions are feasible in the field of online security, such as the new “Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive” that the European Commission presented in January 2012. At least in Western legal systems, it should be clear that either civilrights prevail over security (no balancing), or such balance has to satisfactorily protect individual rights (proportionality). (shrink)
The Civil Code of Lithuania (1964), in force until 2000, did not regulate the objects of civilrights, thus Chapter V of Part III of Book I of the Civil Code of Lithuania is a significant novelty. Several approaches to an abstract definition of the objects of civilrights still exists in the legal doctrine: whether the object of civilrights and the object of the civil relationship coincide; is the object (...) of civilrights an element of the civil relationship and can separate objects (e.g. actions) be considered as the objects of civilrights. Some authors consider such discussion useless to the practical implementation of the law, however, other authors emphasise that the lack of attention of the theory to this subject causes methodological problems while analysing the functional and systemic links among different types of civil relationships. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to analyse the link between the concepts of the object of civilrights and the object of civil relationship, the link between the objects of civilrights and property objects and the types of objects of civilrights in order to reveal the system of objects of civilrights. The subject-matter of the research is the analysis of legal regulation and legal doctrine of the objects of civilrights and their types and their interrelation with the property objects in order to identify the abstract definition of the object of civilrights and examine the system of objects of civilrights. (shrink)
Rights have become,in recent years, a significant concern of legal theorists, as well as of those involved in moral and political philosophy. This new book seeks to move a number of debates forward by developing the analysis of rights and focusing upon more general theoretical considerations relating to rights. The book is divided into five parts. The first includes an explanation of the part played by conceptual analysis within jurisprudence, while the second conducts a re-examination of (...) Hohfeld’s analysis of rights. This part deals with the arguments advanced by a number of modern theorists including Hart, White and MacCormick. The third part contains the author’s own framework for discussing rights, including examples drawn from tort, constitutional law and international law, together with an analysis of Unger’s theory of rights. Part four centres on the perceived conflict between Dworkin, Rawls and Nozick as the defenders of a rights approach, and Bentham as the champion of utilitarianism and concludes that neither deals with the fundamental concerns of morality on which their theories are based. The fifth part consists of a conclusion which reflects on the key themes and considers the role of rights within general theory. For students, particularly helpful features of the book are the overt consideration of jurisprudential methodology and the opportunity to examine a number of key theorists linked by their divergent views on the subject of rights. (shrink)
This study examines the role of human rights violations as a harbinger of civil wars to come, as well as the links between repression, state weakness, and conflict. Human rights violations are both part of the escalating process that may end in civil war and can contribute to an escalation of conflict to civil war, particularly in weak states. The role of government repression and state weakness in leading to civil war is tested empirically. (...) The results show that both closely correlate with civil war onset, especially if they are observed in combination. A two-stage model shows that, while low-level conflict leads to human rights violations, they increase the risk of an escalation to civil war in turn. Human rights violations are identified as an important aspect of understanding civil war onset as the result of an escalation over time and a clear early warning sign of wars to come. (shrink)
This is a review article of Charles Beitz's 2009 book on the philosophy of human rights, The Idea of Human Rights. The article provides a charitable overview of the book's main arguments, but also raises some doubts about the depth of the distinction between Beitz's 'practical' approach to humans rights and its 'naturalistic' counterparts.
Censorship in the area of public health has become increasingly important in many parts of the world for a number of reasons. Groups with vested interest in public health policy are motivated to censor material. As governments, corporations, and organizations champion competing visions of public health issues, the more incentive there may be to censor. This is true in a number of circumstances: curtailing access to information regarding the health and welfare of soldiers in the Kuwait and Iraq wars, poor (...) health conditions in Aboriginal communities, downplaying epidemics to bolster economies, and so forth. This paper will look at the use of a computer worm (the benevolent health worm) to disseminate vital information in␣situations where public health is threatened by government censorship and where there is great risk for those who ‹speak out’. The discussion of the benevolent health worm is focused on the Peoples’ Republic of China (China) drawing on three public health crises: HIV/AIDS, SARS and Avian Influenza. Ethical issues are examined first in a general fashion and then in a specific manner which uses the duty-based moral philosophy of Confucianism and a Western human rights-based analysis. Technical, political and legal issues will also be examined to the extent that they better inform the ethical debate. (shrink)
The article discusses the rights of minorities in the system of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It establishes a conceptual distinction between universal rights, specific rights of minorities in general and specific rights of particular minorities. Universal rights correspond to all individuals (e,g,, “no one shall be subjected to torture”) or all groups of a certain class (e.g., “all families are entitled to protection”). Minority groups and their members are entitled (...) to these rights in the same way as any other individual or group. Specific rights of minorities in general are granted to minority groups (e.g., “minority groups have the right to speak their own language”) or their members (e.g., “persons belonging to a minority group have the right to speak the language of the group”). Finally, specific rights of particular minorities are granted to specific groups identified by their characteristics (e.g., “the linguistic minority X has the right to speak the X language”) or their members (e.g., “any member of the linguistic minority X has the right to speak the X language”). Treaties and international declarations often refer to universal rights and specific rights of minorities in general. However, these rights are usually recognised in broad terms, and their implementation may lead to the recognition of specific rights in favour of particular minorities or their members. Protection of minorities (in the broad sense of the expression) is based on two pillars: on the one hand, the protection against discrimination; on the other hand, the protection of minorities in the strict sense. The first pillar is an aspect of the general principle of nondiscrimination and requires respect for both formal and substantive equalities. The protection of minorities in the strict sense involves the preservation of their particular identity. The purpose of the equality in a formal sense is achieved through universal rights, to the extent that these are granted to minority groups and their members. On the contrary, to achieve equality in a substantive sense, it could be necessary to implement positive measures. The implementation of these measures will usually lead to the recognition of specific rights of minority groups or their members. Finally, the protection of the distinctive characteristics of the minorities will also be done through specific rights. Thus, on the one hand, there are rights, which are intended to protect the minority forms of life (i.e. to protect differences), and, on the other hand, those that are intended to allow minorities equal access to different uniform social goods (i.e. to protect equality). Whereas the former ones seek to protect and promote the particularities of the minority culture (e.g., the right to receive education in their own language), the latter ones are recognised to overcome the disadvantages that minority groups and their members face and are not intended to promote peculiarities, but rather to permit equal access to resources and social opportunities. Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enshrines specific rights of minorities intended to protect and promote their own forms of life. Although economic rights are not mentioned (the article refers to the rights “to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, [and] to use their own language”), they may stem from the explicitly recognised rights. The rights recognised by the Covenant are not collective, but individual rights (“in those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right [...]”). The rights recognised in the Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities are of the same nature. The principle of equality and non-discrimination is contained in Articles 2.1 and 26 of the Covenant. This principle forbids direct and indirect discrimination, be it de iure or de facto. As this is a universal right, minorities can also benefit from it. According to the Human Rights Committee, Article 27 imposes on States the adoption of positive measures that exceed an attitude of mere abstention. In the same way, positive measures may be necessary to make the principle of equality and non-discrimination effective. Although neither Article 27 nor Articles 2.1 and 26 refer to individuals belonging to a specific minority, the concrete implementation of these articles through positive measures may produce specific rights for persons belonging to particular minority groups. (shrink)
This article brings together the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and John McMurtry’s theory of value. In this perspective, the ICESCR is construed as a prime example of “civil commons,” while McMurtry’s theory of value is proposed as a tool of interpretation of the covenant. In particular, McMurtry’s theory of value is a hermeneutical device capable of highlighting: (a) what alternative conception of value systemically operates against the fulfilment of the rights (...) enshrined in the ICESCR; (b) the increased relevance of the ICESCR with regard to the current global economic crisis; (c) the parameters to determine the degree to which the rights at issue have been realized. Reflections on environmental implications of both the ICESCR and McMurtry’s axiology conclude the article. (shrink)
This collection of essays forms a lively debate over the fundamental characteristics of legal and moral rights. The essays examine whether rights fundamentally protect individuals' interests or whether they instead fundamentally enable individuals to make choices.
In Morocco’s process of liberalization (and democratization), the dynamics between social actors defining themselves as “secular” and those labeled “Islamist” are critical. This paper probes the possibility of these actors transcending their frequent opposition and building mutual trust and “civil” interaction, thereby strengthening civil society and the possibility of continued reform in Morocco. Using Morocco’s recent Equity and Reconciliation Commission as an analytical tool, the paper focuses on the human rights arena as a potentially fruitful place for (...) Islamists and secularists to meet. To what extent is a shared commitment to human rights norms possible for non-violent Islamists and secularists? And can a flexible idea of human rights be an effective tool to create trust despite mutual perceptions of threatening ideal aims in the “other”? (shrink)
Cornel West's reputation as a public and celebrity intellectual has overshadowed his important contributions to philosophy. Professor Clarence Shole Johnson provides a rectification of this situation in this benchmark, thought-provoking book. After a brief biographical sketch, Johnson leads us through a comprehensive examination of West's philosophy from his conceptions of pragmatism, existentialism, Marxism, and Prophetic Christianity to his persuasive writings on black-Jewish relations, affirmative action, and the role of black intellectuals. Special focus is given to West's writings on (...) ethics and social justice, and how these inform his entire theoretical framework. Cornel West and Philosophy is a unique and indispensable guide to West's diverse philosophical writings. (shrink)
This paper will analyse Hegel's discussion of the relation between family and civil society on the basis of Marx's insight into the discrepancy between Hegel's explicitly logical structure of presentation based on �essential relationships� and his implicitly historical structure of presentation based on �external necessities�. It is intended neither to resolve the dispute between Hegel and Marx nor to apply Marx's critique to passages of the Philosophy of Right that he did not have occasion to discuss. The purpose (...) of this paper is more specific. It will attempt to illustrate the conflict between Hegel's characterization of civil society as a moment of ethical life emerging from the family in a non-contradictory manner, and his characterization of civil society's opposition to, and transformation of, the family. (shrink)
This study assesses the extent to which job application forms violate the New Zealand Human Rights Act. The sample for the study includes 229 job application forms, collected from a variety of large and small, public- and private-sector organizations that together employ approximately 200,000 workers. Two hundred and four or 88% of the job application forms contain at least one violation of the Act. One hundred and sixty five or 72% contain two or more and 140 or 61% contain (...) three or more violations. The most common violations concern age, gender, nationality, and disability. The least common concern political opinion, ethical belief, religious belief, and sexual orientation. Despite widespread violations, many forms do have non-discriminatory questions that yield the same kind of useful information as discriminatory questions. Employers could incorporate these into their job application forms to bring themselves into compliance with the law. The same lessons also generally apply to North American employers, given the high degree of comparability between American, Canadian, and New Zealand anti-discrimination laws. (shrink)
Introduction: where do our rights come from? -- Jefferson's masterpiece: the Declaration of Independence -- Get off my land : the right to own property -- Names will never hurt me : the freedom of speech -- I left my rights in San Franscisco : the freedom of association -- You can leave any time you want: the freedom to travel -- You can leave me alone : the right to privacy -- That flesh is mine : you (...) own your body -- Sticks and stones will break my bones : the right to self-defense -- You'll hear from me : the right to petition the government for redress of grievances -- War . . .war . . .what is it good for? : the right to enjoy peace -- When the devil turns round on you : the right to fairness from the government -- A dime isn't worth a penny anymore : the right to sound money -- Theft by any other name : the right to spend your own money -- A ride on Dr. Feinberg's bus : the right to be governed by laws with moral limits -- Disobeying stupidity : the right to ignore the state -- Conclusion. (shrink)
Recent feminists have critiqued G.W. Leibniz’s Theodicy for its effort to justify God’s role in undeserved human suffering over natural and moral evil. These critiques suggest that theodicies which focus on evil as suffering alone obfuscate how to thematize evil, and so they conclude that theodicies should be rejected and replaced with a secularized notion of evil that is inextricably tied to the experiences of the victim. This paper argues that the political philosophy found in the writings of Catherine (...) Macaulay (1731–1791) can serve as a support to Leibniz’s larger claims and can also offer a more concrete, situated notion of evil that escapes the contemporary feminist critique. Macaulay’s work on natural and moral political evil, especially, will be presented as an early modern precursor to feminism, which defends divine perfection and a pre-established harmony in the face of political evil. I then identify three unique theodicical arguments in Macaulay’s work: the pragmatically beneficial defense, the eschatalogical defense, and the redemptive defense. (shrink)
The land of chimeras -- Rousseau's half-being -- Navigating the land of chimeras with our only star & compass -- John Locke's other half being -- Nature does nothing in vain -- The foundation of almost every social virtue -- In a word, a better citizen.
The fundamental freedoms of speech, conscience, privacy, and religion are now an essential part of the fabric of contemporary society, set down in our most basic laws and regularly invoked in our political and cultural debates. These freedoms play a vital role in securing the spaces and opportunities within which people are able to pursue their own lives in their own ways. Independence of Mind takes this accepted thought a step further, by exploring the ways in which the fundamental freedoms (...) help us to achieve something even more profound, by enabling us to arrive at beliefs, convictions and voices of our own, so that we truly come to think, believe and speak for ourselves in the rich and various ways that the freedoms then protect. Privacy grants us the distance and refuge from others necessary to develop views of our own; freedom of speech calls on us to imagine ways of expressing ourselves that are both true to the views we have developed and innovative in their own right; freedom of conscience enables each of us to create a distinctive rational personality in which to embed the convictions that we wish to treat as non-negotiable; freedom of religion allows groups of us to endorse certain beliefs as articles of faith, free from the full demands of rational scrutiny. Much has been written about the political and legal implications of the fundamental freedoms and their entrenchment in bills of rights. This is the first book to undertake a comprehensive philosophical examination of their moral bases. It offers a penetrating analysis of what makes these particular freedoms matter to us in the ways that they do, and of the true significance of their entrenchment in law. (shrink)
G. W. F. Hegel is widely considered to be one of the most important philosophers in the history of philosophy. This entry focuses on his contributions to political philosophy, with particular attention paid to his seminal work: the Philosophy of Right. A particular focus will be placed on Hegel’s theories of freedom, contract and property, punishment, morality, family, civil society, law, and the state.
O objetivo desse artigo é mostrar de que modo um problema no domínio da teoria contemporânea do direito suscita questões que podem encontrar esclarecimentos na filosofia de Thomas Hobbes. Para tanto, será primeiramente analisada uma decisão da Suprema Corte norte-americana que retoma um debate constitucional aberto há já quase vinte anos e que versa sobre os direitos civis1. Nesse contexto, a noção de República em Hobbes será apresentada enquanto fornecendo uma teoria sobre a interpretação jurídica que permite apanhar o bom (...) lado nesse debate. (shrink)