using rights to create our world
Rights and responsibilities are a part of how we create the world (society, culture, and environment) that we want to live in. To know how to create useful rights and responsibilities we must have a clear idea, a vision, of what we want our world to be.
If our vision is morally valid then the rights that we create will be morally valid. Conversely, there have been plenty of societies that have created rights that support a world vision that most would consider to be morally invalid.
A moral vision of the world that we want to create with our rights and responsibilities must be based on logically-consistent moral principles that reflect the best parts of the human nature that our evolution has given us. The most fundamental of these principles may include:
- empathy: a compassionate understanding of another being's condition
- reciprocity: a belief in the need for, and value of, fairness.
These principles may be combined in the conceptual statement:
When you do a thing to another being, understand how that thing will feel to them, and determine if you would accept that feeling for yourself.
This statement doesn't focus on the thing that is done, which would impose the doer's values, but on the recipient's feelings that results from the thing that is done. Different beings may feel differently about the thing that is done – it's the quality of the feeling that is relevant.
This statement is a form of what is sometimes known as the Golden Rule, which is, in different forms, a core feature of most philosophical systems and religions.
This statement is arguably the essential basis for a moral world, which we may intend to build with rights and responsibilities, and in which each being has a right to just treatment, and a reciprocal responsibility to ensure justice for others.
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