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Sovereignty vs. the Right to Life

Sovereignty vs. the Right to Life

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Nov 19, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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- on 11/18/2013
 The most fundamental and imortant right a human being has is her right to life! This cannot be "ustified through first rinciles because this is itself a first rincile! #n common sense morality$ it is granted that a human being has a fundamental right to life$ and that this right trums all other rights such as the right to liberty and the right to roerty! #t is assumed that you cannot kill your neighbour merely because he%s trying to forcibly take a art of your land for his use! #t is assumed that you cannot kill him e&en if he slees on your front yard! #f you do not accet this$ read no further! # don%t ha&e an argument that could change your mind! There are no uni&ersally comelling arguments that could ersuade e&en aliens$ comuters and rocks! 'ut since you don%t ha&e a right to your life$ then # might as (ell kill you for some utilitarian reason$ such as using your biological organs to sa&e more than one life!)a&ing granted humans the right to life$ and ha&ing granted that it%s the most fundamental of all rights$ (e must look at the (orld in that light! Rights are constraints on the actions of moral agents! #f you ha&e a right to your roerty$ that means # can%t take it from you by force$ e&en though # (ould like to! #f you ha&e a right to liberty$ that means # can%t shut you u  "ust because # don%t like (hat you are saying! *ne may lausibly ask at this
oint +(hat about my right to not hear things # don%t like, This is a &alid argument! 'ut it is usually understood that there is a hierarchy of rights! .ertain rights are more fundamental and imortant than others! o # ha&e a right to ha&e se (ith any (oman # like, Perhas # do! 'ut that right is trumed by the right the (oman has not to be raed! Therefore # ha&e to find a (ay to ha&e se (ith the (oman (ithout raing her$ or forcing her in any (ay!Since the right to life is the most fundamental and imortant right of all$ there%s no other right that could trum it ecet the right to life itself! Suose that # in&ite some eole to my house and tell them ufront not to do certain things that # do not aro&e (hile they are (ithin my roerty! or eamle$ # might tell them not to smoke (hile they are inside my house and threaten to kick them off my roerty if they do so! #t is generally understood that # can do this because # ha&e a right to my roerty and those (ho ha&e been in&ited do not! 'ut (hat if kicking them off my roerty mean certain death, or eamle$ (hat if there (as a flood outside and if # kicked a erson out$ he (ould surely die, o # still ha&e a right to kick him out of my house, gain it is generally understood that # can do that no longer! This is because the right to life trums all other rights$ including my right to my roerty! #n this situation$ the only legitimate reason # could ha&e to kick him off my roerty is if he osed a mortal threat to me or the others! or eamle$ if he held a gun at my friend and if # (as reasonably confident that he (ould ull the trigger$ # am  "ustified in kicking him out of my house e&en if that meant death for him by dro(ning in the flood! ll this follo(s from common sense morality!So$ although humans ha&e a fundamental right to life and that is the most imortant of all rights$ # do not say that that right is inalienable! There are circumstances under (hich it is reasonable and moral to take that right a(ay from someone! 'ut such situations are etremely rare! .onsider the case (here you can sa&e fi&e eole by killing one erson and donating his biological organs! ost eole find it morally rerehensible to do so$ e&en though it may lead to better conse4uences! 5enerally the only moral reason one can ha&e to stri a erson off his right to life is if it (as a matter of self-defence! )ere too the bar is set high! 6ou cannot kill a erson simly because he (as going to unch you on the face! There should be a mortal danger to your life from him$ or at least a credible threat of serious$ irre&ersible in"ury!7o( suose there is erson $ his (ife erson 6$ and his neighbour erson 9! Persons  and 6 are li&ing in a house and it is understood that erson 9 cannot enter their house (ithout the consent of either  or 6! Suose that  and 6 are not a hay coule$ and that  beats 6 e&ery e&ening! :hat should 9 do, Perhas 9 might still decide not to interfere since he has a sense of ri&acy and he thinks he should not oke his finger in other
eole%s ri&ate li&es!'ut (hat if one day 9 sees  coming home from (ork$ only this time he has a gun,  and 6 argue and fight as usual$ only this time 9 is reasonably sure that  is going to shoot 6 dead, #s it no( "ustified for 9 to inter&ene, # (ould say yes! #n fact$ # (ould go further and say 9 has a moral obligation do so!  6%s right to her life trums all other rights such as %s right to his roerty and his liberty!:hat if 9 failed to act in time$ and no( he strongly susects that 6 is dead$ and that she (as killed by , #s he no( "ustified in inter&ening, # (ould say yes! #t is not "ust about acting in a certain (ay that (ould ensure 6 (ould actually get to en"oy her right to life! #t is also about acting in a (ay that (ould ensure e&eryone else in the future (ould get to en"oy the right to life! #f  (as not unished because 9 did not interfere$  or someone else like  might as (ell commit a similar crime!#t is in this light that allegations against Sri ;anka on human rights ha&e to be &ie(ed! s long as an actual crime (here forty thousand ci&ilians$ (ho did no bear arms$ and therefore osed no mortal threat to the li&es of army ersonnel$ took lace$ the state cannot absol&e itself$ or rid itself from allegations simly by aealing to its indeendence or so&ereignty! #ndeendence and so&ereignty alone cannot immuni<e you to charges of human rights &iolations$ esecially the ones that charge you of taking eole%s li&es! Therefore$ a second argument is needed! There are t(o salient arguments that can be resented as the second argument! *ne$ no human rights (ere &iolated$ or at least the right to life of ci&ilians =eole (ho did not bear arms> (as not &iolated! This argument # find to be reosterous! )o(e&er$ # am not going to argue against it here!  The second argument you can resent is more interesting! 6ou can argue that e&en though a crime took lace$ "ustice has been done$ or is being done internally$ (ithin the state!)ere%s (here # take issue (ith .hris 7onis$ the Sri ;ankan )igh .ommissioner to ?@ (ho recently said in a .77 inter&ie( +The ;essons ;earned in Reconciliation .ommission$ it is imortant for you to understand$ is not based on the rincile of uniti&e "ustice$ (here you unish eole! #t is based on the rincile of restorati&e "ustice$ (here each one gets an oortunity to be able to hear (hat (ent on$ (hether the &ictims or the eretrators$ and that%s the A that%s the essence of the ;;R. and it%s the similar A a similar reort and a similar rincile behind the TR. of South frica! There is a ridiculously ob&ious roblem (ith this &ie(! The common sense &ie( of "ustice is that of a uniti&e "ustice! #f you killed my brother$ # eect you to be unished! # don%t eect to ha&e a chat (ith you after(ards about you killing my brother$ about ho( it affects the t(o of us$ and about (hat the t(o of us learnt from it$ and finally forgi&e you! Secondly$ according to

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