Theories in the making of ideas of human rights

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Theories in the making of ideas of human rights


The basic rights and freedoms, to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.

The theory of a social contract is a hypothesis explaining how society originates as well as the presumed relationship between its members, how they incur responsibilities, and their rights. Early proponents of the social contract, like Hobbes (1985) and Locke (2003), differed in their views and both have been surpassed by Rousseau whose influential 1762 treatise, The Social Contract, has made him synonymous since its publication with the theory of the social contract.

The basic hypothesis

In broad and general terms, social contract theory emerged during the Enlightenment in response to the changes imposed upon human beings as society evolved from an arrangement characterized by independence—“each on one’s own” living in the “state of nature”—to the economies afforded human beings as they came to live together in small families and clans and, then, as they formed small communities. Complicating these arrangements further was the later transition from rural, agrarian society to that of industrialized, urban society.

While members of contemporary American society live out their lives bound within a social contract comprised of a set of legal, political, and social arrangements that seem “natural” and oftentimes are taken for granted—like the air humans breathe and the water fish process through their gills—these arrangements have evolved and changed over time. As these arrangements first began to shape European society, it was Rousseau who asserted, “Man was born free, but everywhere is in chains” (1987, p. 49). Looking back upon the evolution of society, Rousseau posited a “social contract” hypothesizing how human beings can remain free yet live together in a society where no one person has a right to govern other persons and where the only justified authority is that generated out of agreements or covenants among members.

Definition of Human Rights

Rights that belong to an individual as a consequence of being human. The term came into wide use after World War II, replacing the earlier phrase “natural rights,” which had been associated with the Greco-Roman concept of natural law since the end of the Middle Ages. As understood today, human rights refer to a wide variety of values and capabilities reflecting the diversity of human circumstances and history. They are conceived of as universal, applying to all human beings everywhere, and as fundamental, referring to essential or basic human needs. Human rights have been classified historically in terms of the notion of three “generations” of human rights. The first generation of civil and political rights, associated with the Enlightenment and the English, American, and French revolutions, includes the rights to life and liberty and the rights to freedom of speech and worship. The second generation of economic, social, and cultural rights, associated with revolts against the predations of unregulated capitalism from the mid-19th century, includes the right to work and the right to an education. Finally, the third generation of solidarity rights, associated with the political and economic aspirations of developing and newly decolonized countries after World War II, includes the collective rights to political self-determination and economic development. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, many treaties and agreements for the protection of human rights have been concluded through the auspices of the United Nations, and several regional systems of human rights law have been established. In the late 20th century ad hoc international criminal tribunals were convened to prosecute serious human rights violations and other crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The International Criminal Court, which came into existence in 2002, is empowered to prosecute crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, and war crimes.


While some dictionaries define the word right as “a privilege,” when used in the context of “human rights,” we are talking about something more basic.*

Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These are called “human rights” rather than a privilege (which can be taken away at someone’s whim). They are “rights” because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace. Many people know something about their rights. Generally they know they have the right to food and a safe place to stay. They know they have a right to be paid for the work they do. But there are many other rights. When human rights are not well known by people, abuses such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, oppression and slavery can arise. <href=”#_ftn1″ name=”_ftnref1″ title=””>[1]Born out of the atrocities and enormous loss of life during World War II, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948 to provide a common understanding of what everyone’s rights are. It forms the basis for a world built on freedom, justice and peace.


Human rights are the most fundamental right of human beings, and it define relationships between individuals and power structures. History in the last 250 years hasbeen shaped by the struggle to create such an environment. Starting with the French andAmerican revolutions in the late eighteenth century, the idea of human rights has drivenmany a revolutionary movement for empowerment and for control over the wielders ofpower, Governments in particular.

. Bangladesh’s overall human rights situation worsened in 2012, as the government narrowed political and civil society space, shielded abusive security forces from accountability, and ignored calls to reform laws and procedures in flawed war crimes and mutiny trials. The security forces disguised extrajudicial killings as “crossfire” killings. Opposition members and political activists “disappeared.” Flawed trials against those accused of war crimes in the 1971 war for independence continued. When Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh from persecution in Burma, the government pushed back boatloads of refugees, insisting that it had no obligation to provide them sanctuary.

Social contract theory

Social contract theory, nearly as old as philosophy itself, is the view that persons’ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. Social contract theory is rightly associated with modern moral and political theory and is given its first full exposition and defense by Thomas Hobbes. After Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best known proponents of this enormously influential theory, which has been one of the most dominant theories within moral and political theory throughout the history of the modern West. In the twentieth century, moral and political theory regained philosophical momentum as a result of John Rawls’ Kantian version of social contract theory, and was followed by new analyses of the subject by David Gauthier and others. The idea of the social contract is one of the foundations of the American political system.The term social contract can be found in the writings of Plato. Those who were strongest could control and can use their power anytime. There are so many arguments among the entire philosopher.

Socrates’ Argument

In the early Platonic dialogue, Crito, Socrates makes a compelling argument as to why he must stay in prison and accept the death penalty, rather than escape and go into exile in another Greek city. He personifies the Laws of Athens, and, speaking in their voice, explains that he has acquired an overwhelming obligation to obey the Laws because they have made his entire way of life, and even the fact of his very existence, possible. They made it possible for his mother and father to marry, and therefore to have legitimate children, including himself. Having been born, the city of Athens, through its laws, then required that his father care for and educate him. Socrates’ life and the way in which that life has flourished in Athens are each dependent upon the Laws. But in Plato’s well-known dialogue, republic, social contract theory s represented again. The views, in the Crito and the republic, might seem at first glance inconsistent: inn the former dialogue Socrates uses a social contract type of argument to show why it is just for him to remain in prison, whereas in the latter he rejects social contract as the source of justice.These two views are, however, reconcilable. From Socrates’ point of view, a just man is one who will, among other things, recognize his obligation to the state by obeying its laws.

Social contract theory and human rights

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. Socrates and his philosophic heirs, Plato and Aristotle also posited that a natural justice or natural rights exist (dikaionphysikon, ??????? ???????, Latin is natural).

The development of this tradition of natural justice into one of natural law is usually attributed to the Stoics ( a kind of philosophy which defend that we have to control our desires and accept the rules of nature and the destiny)

In the XIX th 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. 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 possessions, 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 trust in the kindness of men which Hobbes and Locke disappoint it.



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