Academic journal article South African Journal of Philosophy

The Universal Declaration's Problematic Rights Justification

Academic journal article South African Journal of Philosophy

The Universal Declaration's Problematic Rights Justification

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this paper I aim to critically analyse the underlying moral justification of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. The aim of the critique is to highlight some of the problematic areas that underpin the Declaration's rights and in doing so to point to ways that one can begin to rectify the problems with them and the Universal Declaration itself. The paper aims to critically examine the moral justification for the Universal Declaration's rights, which is found in the works of Thomas Berry and his commentators who use the notion of 'subjectivity' to justify the existence of such rights. The paper critically examines such a notion and argues that it is not strong enough to do the work required of it, and that it is too problematic to serve as a justification for the Universal Declaration's rights, as the ethical framework it provides is too cryptic and indeterminate, and does not provide us with an adequate action- and law-guiding framework upon which to establish the Universal Declaration and its rights.

In this paper I aim to critically analyse the underlying moral justification of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, hereafter referred to as the Universal Declaration.2 The aim of the critique is to highlight some of the problematic areas that underpin the Universal Declaration's rights and in doing so to point to ways that one can begin to rectify the problems with them and the Universal Declaration itself. More specifically I aim to critically examine the moral justification for the Universal Declaration's rights, which is found in the works of Thomas Berry and his commentators who use the notion of 'subjectivity' to justify the existence of such rights. I will critically examine such a notion and argue that it is not strong enough and too problematic to serve as a justification for the Universal Declaration's rights, as the ethical framework it provides is too cryptic and indeterminate, and does not provide us with an adequate action- and law-guiding framework upon which to establish the Universal Declaration and its rights.

Before delving into the critique, however, let me put my cards on the table. I am a proponent of the rights of nature movement as I think it could play an important role in the protection of nature. However, the Universal Declaration proposes a number of rights, which are problematic in a number of different ways, as is the underlying justification behind those rights. Thus in order to strengthen the rights of nature movement these problematic rights and justification need to be addressed. This paper is one strand of a broader attempt to do so, and focuses on the underlying justification behind the Universal Declaration. In doing so it sets the foundation for a broader critique of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration, which I attempt in my broader thesis.3 Having thus defined the limitations of this paper, before moving on to discuss the Universal Declaration's justification, allow me to briefly contextualise the Rights of Nature Movement in order to properly inform this discussion.

The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence

According to Chilean lawyer Godofredo Stutzen giving rights to nature "constitutes an act of justice by which the law advancing in its process of development, confirms the distinctive values inherent in the natural world, leaving behind the indefensible anthropocentric vision of earth according to which the planet and all that exists upon it are but the environment of human kind, having no other value than their usefulness for the human species" (2002: 25). Stutzen's rich but dense statement needs some unpacking if we are to properly understand what the rights of nature are, and what the rights-of-nature movement aims to achieve. As the name suggests rights of nature, aims to give legal rights to the natural world, such that nature can be represented within our legal system. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.