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The life of citizenship has been developed day by day but the nature of rights has been largely ignored. The analysis of human rights presents a problem for sociology because the fact-value of distinction has largely destroyed the natural-law basis for rights discourse. However, recent developments in the organization of nation states, the globalization of political issues, the transformation of family life, and changes in medical technology in relation to human reproduction have brought the question of human rights to the forefront of social and political debate. The sociology of rights is important, because there are obvious limitations to the idea of citizenship, which is based on membership of a nation state. Sociology cans analysis the human rights in a concept of human frailty, in the idea of the precariousness of social institutions, and in a theory of moral sympathy. This not only offers a sociological version of traditional notions of natural or inalienable rights, but also attempts to provide a sociological alternative to enlightenment theories of social contract and individual rights.
Human rights are almost a form of religion in today’s world. They are the great ethical yardstick that is used to measure a government’s treatment of its people. A broad consensus has emerged in the twentieth century on rhetoric that frames judgment of nations against an international moral code prescribing certain benefits and treatment for all humans simply because they are human. Within many nations political debates rage over the denial or abuse of human rights. Even in prosperous, democratic countries like Canada much public discourse is phrased in the rhetoric of rights. Legal documents to protect human rights have proliferated in Canada, culminating in the 1982 entrenchment of the Charter of Rights in the Constitution. Especially since the advent of the Charter, many Canadians have claimed that particular benefits they desire are a matter of human rights and must be provided. Indeed, the claim that the desired benefit is a human right is often meant to undercut any opposition as unprincipled or even immoral.
Lost in much of the discussion is any justification for the high moral grounded occupied by human rights. Most political activists and commentators are content just to look at the United Nations’ ever-growing body of human rights agreements as proof that these rights exist universally and therefore have to be respected by everyone. Domestic human rights legislation represents the local implementation of internationally-recognized rights that are universal and inalienable. Unfortunately, human rights are far more complicated phenomena than that.
Any inquiry into the origin, nature, and content of human rights reveals tremendous conceptual hurdles that need to be overcome before one can accept their pre-eminent authority. Indeed, many argue that the problems encountered in this analysis demonstrate that human “rights” are a misnomer, and that the rhetoric of human rights is really a description of ideals – and a controversial set of ideals at that. Any inquiry into the origin, nature, and content of human rights reveals tremendous conceptual hurdles that need to be overcome before one can accept their pre-eminent authority. Indeed, many argue that the problems encountered in this analysis demonstrate that human “rights” are a misnomer, and that the rhetoric of human rights is really a description of ideals – and a controversial set of ideals at that.
1. Heard. A. (1997). HUMAN RIGHTS: CHIMERAS IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING? Visit:
What are human rights?
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.
Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
Universal and inalienable
Human right is universal and inalienable. The main duty of human right is to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems.
Interdependent and indivisible
All human rights are indivisible, that’s mean people are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent.
Equal and non-discriminatory
Equal and non-discriminatory means all human rights are equal and everyone has freedoms and prohibits discrimination on the basis of a list of non-exhaustive categories such as sex, race, color and so on. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
1United Nations Human Rights. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx
Both Rights and Obligations
Human rights entail both rights and obligations. Obligation means to respect, to protect and to fulfill human rights. The obligation to protect requires protecting individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfill means must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights. We should also respect the human rights of others.
The Motivation for Human Rights
The attraction of human rights is the determination of specific societies. Human rights can be used to judge any society. Human rights provide an acceptable bench mark with which individuals or governments from one part of the world may criticize the norms followed by other governments or cultures. In a world human rights are equal for Moslems, Hindus, Christians, capitalists, socialists, democracies also for all .This right are everywhere across religious, political, and economic. Human rights are said to enshrine universal moral standards. Without fully universal human rights no one lead a better life.
Defining Social Contract
Social contract is a convention between men that aims to discard the state of nature. Under state of nature people live without government or written laws. People live under principles of justice that all normal people can see through reason, they include right to life, liberty and estates. Most people seek to follow these principles but the problem is lack of explicit written laws that leads to uncertainty and difficulty to resolve disputes.
The origin of the term social contract can be found in the writings of Plato. However, English philosopher Thomas Hobbes expanded on the idea when he wrote Leviathan in response to the English Civil War. In this book he wrote that in the earliest days there was no government. Instead, those who were the strongest could take control and use their power at any time over others. Hobbes’ theory was that the people mutually agreed to create a state, only giving it enough power to provide protection of their well-being. However, in Hobbes’ theory, once the power was given to the state, the people then relinquished any right to that power. In effect, that would be the price of the protection they sought.
1Martin. Kelly. Social Contract.About.com.Amierican History Visit:http://americanhistory.about.com/od/usconstitution/g/social_contract.htm
Elements of the Social Contract
There are two principal elements to the social contract. The first is an initial pre-political situation called a “state of nature” by the modern philosophers and the “original position” by Rawls, the most significant contemporary exponent of social contract theory. In this initial situation, all individuals are equal, they are all situated symmetrically relative to one another, and they all have some incentive to leave the initial situation in favor of some relative advantage gained by entry into civil society. The second element is a normative characterization of the parties to the contract. The parties are described as (1) motivated by self-interest, in as much as they will only agree to the contract if they perceive that they will benefit from social interaction; (2) concerned for the welfare of others, if only because they recognize that the advantages they expect to derive from the social contract will be conditional on their willingness to guarantee the same advantages to their counterparts; and (3) rational or reasonable with respect to the way they understand their own interests, the interests of others, and the just or moral principles that ought to govern their pursuit of those interests.
1Needleman’s. (October 9, 2012). The Social Contract Theory in a Global Context
Social contract theory
Social contract theory expresses two fundamental ideas to which the human mind always clings the value of liberty; the idea that “will” and not “force” is the basis of government; and the value of justice or the idea that “right” and not “might” is the basis of all political society and of every system of political order.2
The theory seeks to explain the formation of societies and governments. Despite the great variations on some points, the social contract theory mainly focuses on the voluntary consent that People give to the formation of the government.3 Moreover; the theory denotes an implicit agreement within a State regarding the rights and responsibilities of the State, i.e. the government and its citizens.4 It is an explicit or implicit agreement and it emphasizes the rights of citizens in their relationship to their government. The theory posits that rights of citizens are prior to and more fundamental than the organization of society under the government.5 he governed, in essence, should be the governors. The idea of self-government is posited as an end in itself. A political order offering opportunities for participation in the arrangement of public affairs should not just be a State, but rather, the formation of a type of society in which the affairs of the State are integrated into affairs of ordinary citizens.
2BARKER, E, (1960) Social Contract Essays by Locke, Hume, and Rousseau; Oxford University Press; USA; p.
3 BURKE, E (1971)“State Formation and Social Contract Theory: Rwenzuru and the Southern Sudan”; A Paper
Delivered to the African Studies Association Conference; Denver;; p.8
4 Wikipedia; A Free Internet Encyclopedia; visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Contract_theories
5 ZACK, N (2006)“Philosophy and Disaster” Homeland Security Affairs; Volume II; Issue 1; Homeland Security
Affairs is an online academic journal of the Centre for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS); visit
The Theory of the Declaration of Independence
· “All men are created equal.”
· People have natural rights.
· Purpose of government: to protect these rights.
· Source of authority: “consent of the governed.”
· The right of revolution.
1Further reading: Jefferson’s original version(pp-1):
Social Contract Theory of John Locke
John Locke was the 17th-century British philosopher and physician. His famous books are: Essay Concerning Human understanding, Two Treatises of Government, Letter Concerning Toleration. Primary source of the ideas of the Declaration of Independence & the American Revolution. Now I discuss about how he present the Social Contract Theory:
Nature of Human:
· God makes man naturally free to pursue life, liberty, health and property as natural right.
· Humanity ought not to harm other in their life, health, liberty or possessions and in turn expect their own rights to respected.
· A human being is by nature a social animal.
The State of Nature
· This is where people live without government or written laws.
· It is the natural conditions of mankind is a state of perfect and compete liberty to conduct one’s life as one best sees fit, free from the interference of others.
· The state of nature I pre-political;, but it is not pre-moral. Persons are assumed to be equal to one another in such a state, and therefore equally capable of discovering and being bound by the Law of Nature. The Law of Nature, which is (on Locke’s view) the basis of all morality and given to us by God, commands that we not harm others with regard to their “life”, health, liberty, or possessions.
· We give p our right to ourselves exact retribution for crimes in return for impartial justice backed by overwhelming force. We retain the right to life and liberty and gain the right to just, impartial protection of our property.
· It is the preservation of their wealth and preserving their lives, liberty and well-being in general.
Social Contract Theory of Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) wrote an influential book titled Leviathan. In this book, he details the idea of the social contract which states that men originally formed governments because of their need for protection.1 Now I discuss about how he present the Social Contract Theory:
Nature of Man:
· Human judgment is distorted by self-interest and can be easily swayed with rhetoric that is often neither directed toward the public good nor the individual’s good.
· Human beings are programmed, mechanical objects to pursue self-interested ends, without regards for anything other than the avoidance of pain and the incentive of pleasure.
· Man is not a social animal that is impossible without the coercive power of a state.
· Human beings are neither by nature selfish nor rational.
State of Nature:
· In the state of Nature, men are naturally and exclusively self-interested, they are more or less equal to one another,(even the strongest man can be killed in his sleep).There are limited resources and yet there is no power able to force. Men to cooperate.
· State of nature can be unbearably brutal. No long-term or complex cooperation is possible because the state of Nature can be aptly described as a state of utter distrust. It is the state of perpetual and unavoidable war.
· Man are naturally self –interested ,yet they are rational, they will chose to submit to the authority of Sovereign in order to be able to live in a civil society, which is conducive to their own interests.
· To ensure their escape from the state of nature, they must both agree to live together under common law and create n enforcement mechanism for the social contract and laws that constitute it.
1Martin. Kelly. Social Contract.About.com.Amierican History Visit:http://americanhistory.about.com/od/usconstitution/g/social_contract.htm
Social Contract Theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau:
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) Concerned with the relationship of the state and the individual. He believes that society is based upon some implicit contract. The contract delivers us from some “prior state of nature”.1 The contract implies that the ruler is the people’s agent, not their master. Rousseau begins The Social Contract with the most famous words he ever wrote: “Men are born free, yet everywhere are in chains.” 2 Now I discuss about how he present the Social Contract Theory:
Nature of Man:
· Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind
· Civilization brought inequality and other evils.
· People have a sense of freedom, a faculty for self-improvement, a natural feeling of compassion and self-love.
· The key social bond has been the development of private property.
o “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground bethought himself of saying ‘this is mine’, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.”
· Private property is the source of all evil.
· Establishment of the institution of private property led to the establishment of society, government, and law.
· The only solution is to abandon private property
1Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract, & the Will of the People, (October 28, 2011).Visit:http://theantinietzsche.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/jean-jacques-rousseaus-the-social-contract-the-will-of-the-people/
2 Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A peer-Reviewed Academic Resource. Visit: <href=”#SH2a”>http://www.iep.utm.edu/soc-cont/#SH2a
State of Nature
- Before people lived in societies, their activities were largely dominated by unreflective pursuits of their own individual welfare.
- The principle concern of people was self-preservation.
- There were no rights or moral relations to be respected.
- Cooperation was impossible.
- In this environment, it is impossible for human character to develop, and people to rise above their base instincts.
- “Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains.”
- The contract liberates people from the rude state of nature.
- Socialistic view of the relationship between the individual and society.
- The contract does not change people or their rights, but rather it offers guarantees.
- It guarantees “individualism” by prohibiting excessive individualism or self-interest.
· To Hobbes and Locke, political institutions are a necessary evil; to Rousseau they are a blessing.
· People empower the state by their contract with the ruler.
· The citizens give the state (and society) complete control over themselves and their (individual) possessions.
· People give up independent interest by giving up authority to the state to enforce the collective interest of society.
· If the ruler or laws act other than in the interests of the whole of society, then the contract becomes void.
- Society, through the social contract, reshapes (changes) the individual.
- It is not necessary that choices be made by a vote. Majority rule is not necessary. Leaders can act in the general interest without consulting the citizenry.
Compare of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau:
|Human Nature||State of Nature||Social Contract|
|Hobbes||Man is a wolf unto his fellow man.||A state of War.||Leviathan|
|Locke||Man has perfect freedom.||Property is not secure.||Commonwealth|
|Rousseau||Man is free but ‘immoral’.||No security or morality.||State guided by the general will.|
Human rights as a social contract
Human rights refer to the “basic rights and freedom to which all humans are entitled “Examples of rights and freedoms include civil and political rights, right to life in liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law, the right of be a member of a cultural group, the right to food, to work or to receive an education.
”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”
To explain how and why human rights become part of social expectations, some theories trend to designate the influence from part of some philosophers. Hume for example says that the human rights point to a moral behavior which is a human social product developed by a process of biological and social evolution. Philosophers like Hobbes, Locke or Rousseau remark that we need a social contract to live with a minimum of security and to own economic advantages but we have to be subordinate to some rules from a legitimate authority to made respect the law.
· In the 1990th century Thomas Hobbes founded a social contract theory of legal positivism on what all men could agree upon: what they want or look for (happiness) was subjected to contention, but if the most important fear of men is a violent death at the hands of another, a natural law was how a rational human could assure them to survive and prosper.1
1 Samedi (2009) Chanez’s portfolio. Visit:http://chanezportfolio.blogspot.com/2009/02/human-rights-as-social-contract.html
In Hobbes’s opinion, the only way which could prevail or persuade them was to submit men to the commands of the sovereign. In this lay the foundations of the theory of a social contract between the governed and the governor. John Locke incorporated natural law into many of his theories and philosophy.
· Locke didn’t agree with Hobbes’ prescription around, saying that if the ruler went against natural law and failed to protect “life, liberty, and prosperity,” people could justifiably overthrow the existing state and create a new one. Locke defend that all human have rights and possesions, the first possession of every men is of course his body, and all men in here in his work and have the possibility to take advantage of the payoff.
· The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggested the existence of a hypothetical social contract where a group of free individuals agree for the sake of the common good to form institutions to govern themselves. This repeated the earlier postulation by Tomas Hobbes that there is a contract between the government and the governed – and led to John Locke’s theory that a failure of the government to secure rights is a failure which justifies the removal of the government. But Rousseau believed and trusts in the kindness of men which Hobbes and Locke disappoint it.2
2Samedi (2009) Chanez’s portfolio. Visit:http://chanezportfolio.blogspot.com/2009/02/human-rights-as-social-contract.html
Violation for Human Right:
Depending of the different kinds of cultures, some didn’t and still don’t agree for the acceptance of some human rights roll, which in fact, give place to some international conflicts. For example female genital mutilation occurs in different cultures in Africa, Asia and South America. The most surprising is that it is not mandated by any religion, but has become a tradition in many cultures. It is considered a violation of women’s and girl’s right by much of the international community, and it’s outlawed in some countries.
Human rights abuses are controlled by United Nations committees, national institutions and governments and by many independent NGO, such as Amnesty International, World Organization against Torture, International Freedom of Expression Exchange. These organizations collect documentation of doubtful human rights abuses and apply pressure to enforce human rights laws.
Only a very few countries don’t commit significant human rights violations like the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Costa Rica. They are the only countries that did not violate at least some human rights significantly.1
Which are the rights missing?
Even if it’s not so evident, there are some missing rights such as Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Trans gender rights. Some issues like same-sex marriage, gay adoption and protection from discrimination are considered to be human rights. There are some organizations which fight for them but it’s very difficult to find and accord because this question is used to be considerate as ambiguous.
At least, for me the most important and basic human rights are those which defend the equality between men and women, the freedom expression, the education, cause I remember that my grand-mother couldn’t go to school in her childhood, because she was living in a war conflict, and she really want to own it just for being able to read and write but she couldn’t because she had to work.2
1-2Samedi (2009) Chanez’s portfolio. Visit:http://chanezportfolio.blogspot.com/2009/02/human-rights-as-social-contract.html
In conclusion we say that universal human rights are real, They are derived from our biological nature as social animals and the logical principle of reciprocity as applied by reasonable people through a theoretical social contract. Rights, of course, imply duties, and those duties fall as much upon governments as individuals. So rights cannot be abolished by governments or even by democratic majorities; they can only be recognized.
Governments therefore become just when they enforce the basic natural duties and protect the human rights flowing there from that constitute the social contract. And individuals become ethical when they freely acknowledge and affirm obedience to these basic duties as a personal obligation and give their informed consent to respect and honor the human rights of all other human beings.
1. The AntiNietzsche. (October 28, 2011). Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract, & the Will of the People. Visit:http://theantinietzsche.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/jean-jacques-rousseaus-the-social-contract-the-will-of-the-people/
Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy, Forthcoming .United Kingdom.
3. BURKE, E (1971)“State Formation and Social Contract Theory: Rwenzuru and the Southern Sudan”; A Paper
Delivered to the African Studies Association Conference; Denver;; p.8
4.Barker, Sir E. (1960), Social Contract Essays by Locke, Hume, and Rousseau; Oxford
University Press; USA.
5. Grant.R. (2000).The Social Contract and Human Rights. New York. Visit: http://www.humanistsofutah.org/2000/discjun00.html
6. Heard. A. (1997). HUMAN RIGHTS: CHIMERAS IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING? Visit:
7. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A peer-Reviewed Academic Resource. Visit: <href=”#SH2a”>http://www.iep.utm.edu/soc-cont/#SH2a
8. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract, & the Will of the People, (October 28, 2011).Visit:http://theantinietzsche.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/jean-jacques-rousseaus-the-social-contract-the-will-of-the-people/
9. Jefferson’s original version:
10. J. J. Rousseau. (1987).The Basic Political Writings. SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY
11. M.Nyamaka (2011) Social Contract Theory of John Locke
(1932-1704) In the Contemporary World. Retrieve from: http://works.bepress.com/dmnyamaka/5
12. Martin. Kelly. Social Contract.About.com.Amierican History
13. Mansour.A. Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism and Social Contract
Theories in the Jena Lectures.Visit:http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/txt/mansour.htm
14. Needleman’s. (October 9, 2012). The Social Contract Theory in a Global Context
15. Samedi (28, fevrier2009) Chanez’s portfolio. Visit:http://chanezportfolio.blogspot.com/2009/02/human-rights-as-social-contract.html
16. United Nations Human Rights. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx
17. Wikipedia; A Free Internet Encyclopedia; visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Contract_theories
18. ZACK, N (2006)“Philosophy and Disaster” Homeland Security Affairs; Volume II; Issue 1; Homeland Security
Affairs is an online academic journal of the Centre for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS); visit:
Main body 🙁 3642-words) [Introduction – Conclusion]
Total: (4242-words) for cover page, table of content and main body and bibliography.