Prompted by a question from a reader, this post is about human rights. Schools often cover this subject but it can be more of a celebration than enquiry, since human rights are generally considered A Very Good Thing.
There are many philosophically interesting questions about human rights, but you generally need to find “some salt to go with the sugar”. Here’s 10 contestable conversation starters:
- Were human rights invented or discovered?
- Are human rights “human” because humans made them up, or because they are necessary for humans to flourish?
- What is it about humans that entitles them to rights that we don’t give to animals?
- If our laws did not recognise human rights, would we still have them?
- If people voted not to have human rights, would they disappear or would they still have them?
- Are there situations in which human rights are less important than something else?
- How can two or more human rights come into conflict with each other? When they do, which should win out?
- What would aliens have to be like for them to deserve the same human rights as us?
- If a country that doesn’t respect human rights was wealthier as a result, would that mean dropping human rights was the right thing to do? What if it was safer?
- Can someone deserve to have their human rights taken away?
Here’s one question from the Year 7 set of Sticky Questions. Next week’s bulletin will kick off a 7-day window in which individual class sets of Sticky Questions will be available. You can read about Sticky Questions here.
Or for a topical example, there’s the question of whether or not the Welsh government’s plan to make religious education lessons compulsory breaches human rights: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-51407327