Jsou lidská práva univerzální?

Ani v našem globalizujícím se světě nedokážeme odpovědět na otázku, jsou-li ,,lidská práva" opravdu konceptem výhradně západní kultury, který ignoruje rozdílnou kulturní, ekonomickou a politickou realitu Jihu. Lze hodnoty konzumní společnosti aplikovat na společnosti, kde není co konzumovat? Bude to možná znít pohrdavě, ale když zabráníte muži v tradičním oděvu, aby bil svou manželku, obhajujete její lidská práva, anebo porušujete jeho?

Faktem je, že proti konceptu univerzálních lidských práv existuje celá řada závažných námitek, jež si jejich zastánci musí otevřeně přiznat, byť jen proto, aby je vyvrátili.

První námitka se týká toho, že všechna práva a všechny hodnoty jsou vymezeny kulturním vnímáním; neexistuje žádná univerzální kultura, a tudíž ani univerzální lidská práva. Někteří filozofové namítají, že myšlenka lidských práv je založena na individualistickém pohledu na člověka jako na autonomní bytost, jejíž největší potřebou je nezávislost na zásazích státu, která je jaksi prostoupena právem mít ode všech a ode všeho klid. Nezápadní společnosti se naopak řídí etikou komunitarianismu, která společnost nevidí jen jako součet jejích jednotlivých členů a pro kterou jsou povinnosti důležitější než práva.

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