Towards a globally unified ethical system based on absolute rationality

Towards a globally unified ethical system based on absolute rationality[1]

Mehran Banaei and Nadeem Haque

 

Relativism and secularism have held sway in Western Societies for over 100 years, as a counter-reaction to mysticism and irrational absolutism. This schism has inordinately divided human thought and the world, creating a problematic polarization. In this paper it is argued that a third alternative exists that corresponds with nature and which has the capacity to bridge the gap between science and religion and the moral and legal. The alternative is based on uncompromising rationality and looks to the cause and effect relationships in the universe for guidance. It is realized that ‘Absolutism’ conjures up irrationality, unjust authoritarianism, particularly since ‘religion’ has, in the West and the East, been associated with this type of rigid structure in society. In stark contradistinction, the alternative system is one that is based on ‘rational absolutism’ or absolute rationality, that leads to absolute rights as derived from nature itself, as opposed to ‘conventional rights’.  The paper goes on to show how, from first principles, these absolute rights can be derived that have been given the name Equigenic, leading to the Equigenic Principle. Such a view eliminates the chasm between science and religion, and legal and moral, which the paper argues has been the cause of much conflict in the world, be it social, psychological or ecological/environmental. The paper offers a fresh new outlook that is a panacea for various forms of confused thinking, leading to justice and peace. It is argued that this perfect and absolute rationality resides in the Equigenic Principle, whose applicability, if realized, should become a top priority, and help to extricate humanity from the deep quagmire it has unwittingly stumbled into.

 

The Usage of Facts

We must consider that theology is not a universal science like biology, for any imbecile can grab a piece of paper and pen and write what he would claim to be a divine revelation. If the notion of ‘religion’ is not universal, the values derived from ‘religion’ cannot possibly be universal either. Thus, should society imbibe every practice, simply because it is wrapped up with the notion of it being categorized as “‘Our religiously’ obligatory rituals”? If we allow such provisions, then any action can be justified under the banner of a newly formed ‘religion’, denomination, or sect. Values based on religion are uncontrollable, syncretistic, arbitrary, dogmatic, ritualistic and culturally relative. Thus, we could never have any absolute and universal values to resolve societal conflicts, and could never match reality with map of reality, based on thought constructs.

Under secularism, on the other hand, defined values are not independent from the interests, wishes and the desires of the value-makers. One of the major criticisms against secularism is its tendency to relax the codes of existing culturo-religious morality. To suit one’s purpose, usually, all that is required is lobbying and getting enough consent. And that is exactly why conventionalism is so popular in secular societies. Under conventionalism, this permissive attitude and the lack of an absolute foundational criterion for judgement has led to a total disregard for the balance in the social web of society. On the other hand, conventionalism could restrict moral codes to the other harsh extreme, such as in totalitarian states. Yet, in either case, there is no stability in either system. The extremism at both ends is bound to shatter into smithereens, in the due course of time. We shall examine the outcome of conventional values in much more detail later on, and show that the deficiencies of secularism and religionism, cannot be found under an absolute system.

As opposed to all other alternatives, values based on facts are inherent and universal. Such values are valid by nature, not by convention or by the authority of a so-called religious figure or King. Therefore, in order to have a truly valuable value system, all designated values ought to be founded on facts. For example, if it is scientifically determined that recreational consumption of fentanyl is detrimental to the individual and the society as a whole, then the inescapable value that is derived from this fact is: “One must not take such a drug, for such purposes, period.” There can be no ‘but’ here. Therefore, the practice of this decree is not due to authoritative compulsion, but rather, due to a voluntary submission to the facts, derived from proper understanding. For the benefit of society, the state ought to implement factual values, educate the masses and punish the violators. This entails that the so-called scientific approach is wholly viable for setting up a universal standard for the ‘moral’ judgement of right and wrong. Given these pertinent considerations, would it be possible to derive values from first principles: using our mind and the signs in the universe, endowments readily accessible to any human being, anywhere on this planet, at any time? In this paper, we shall argue in the affirmative, that is, this is the only secure and stable approach. To establish this assertion, we shall attempt to develop a principle of what is commonly referred to as ‘universal justice’[2] and rights based on factual knowledge of the physical laws of nature—a principle of ‘absolute justice’ for both the human and non-human inhabitants of global society.

 

Justice and Rights

The notion of justice and rights is one of the most predominant issues facing the whole of humanity today. In our age, there is perhaps more conflict on various issues than ever before. These conflicts always revolve around the question of ‘rights’. All over the globe there are ongoing debates on women’s rights, minority rights, refugee rights, animal rights, language rights, fetus rights, civil rights, equal rights, gay rights, etc. In any society, the establishment of the flawless charter of rights is the most vital element not only for its survival, but also for its health and enhancement. Across the globe each society has taken a particular ideology—either explicitly or implicitly—as the core principle by which it goes about conducting its daily affairs. Most often, the ideology adhered to, serves as the foundation for every rule of conduct. All internal and external policies are set, based on the particular ideology being upheld. However, we must always keep in mind that, just as if we were to take the wrong train, every station stop, would be a wrong one, similarly, if we were to adopt a wrong value system, every critical decision would be an erroneous one. Therefore, just as it is crucial to know which train we ought to take, so too, is it crucial to know which value system we ought to adhere to, in order to guarantee the fulfilment of everyone’s rights. Yet, humankind has been swimming in a labyrinth of opposing value systems. Some of these are culturally based, others are conventional, and yet still there are some others which are merely justified by majority consent. One may wonder which one of these ideologies is the most optimal one. In fact, far from being optimal, all of these views lack a solid foundation. This is because the root of the issue of rights, which entails an undercurrent of the central questions, is often disregarded by the theoreticians of justice and rights who are merely theorizing on theories in their opulent ivory towers. The central questions surrounding the notion of rights, however, boils down to just one basic issue—what is the basis of justice? What model or foundation of justice are we to use in order to arrive at optimality in the flow of life, where justice is served for all? What is the measure of justice? How could we achieve justice? How would it be implemented? Indeed, how would we arrive at a globally optimal system to deal with all issues, be they judicial, scientific, environmental, political, social, economical, taxational, and so on? Our much sought after model of justice should not only be able to deal with singular issues; it should also be able to handle all issues with integral dexterity. A universally optimal system can only be deemed to be so, if it is characterized by the possession of such properties.

In an optimal system, what should be the criteria for deciding upon a myriad issues? For example, how would we be able to establish whether a violation of one’s right has occurred, when an individual, group or state interferes or neglects to do so by either allowing or disallowing a particular course of action? In other words, when could one ascertain whether one’s individual or collective rights have been violated or deprived? These rights may range from being able to express ideas freely, being able to enter into any country, or being able to ‘marry’ a partner of the same sex, etc. For some others, the denial of all these ‘rights’ constitute ‘rights’! In order to resolve such questions, in this paper, the optimal system of justice and human rights will be deduced based on the notions of interconnectivity, consistency, universality, timelessness and concomitant functionality. The major emphasis of the paper is on the criteria by which we should be able to determine justice and rights.

 

Conventional Rights and Systems of ‘Justice

 

Many jurists, academics, political scientists, philosophers and states have tried to develop theories, charters, conventions, legislations and constitutions to establish justice and human rights. However, most of them have utterly failed to establish an absolute foundation of rights. Many of these exponents do not even bother to approach the issue of rights by building upon a justifiable foundation. Rather, they attempt to formulate rights upon the basis of the best possible consent. Nonetheless, the common denominator among all these ideas is their relative nature —the unforgivable sin. Rules which are based on relativism are faulty, fallible, fluctuatory and unproductive, because they refute themselves by self-contradiction (“the glasshouse syndrome”). In turn, relativism gives birth to ‘conventionalism’ and ‘positivism’. Both are subject to the mores of the period. Under this system, for example, one decade’s human rights violation becomes another decade’s guaranteed human rights protection or vice versa. By examining various conventional theories of justice and rights, it is observable that they all suffer from this fatal flaw. Take the example of the European Convention on Human Rights which was formulated in an era and locale where utilitarianism was the predominant ideology, a philosophy that greatly influenced the formulation of this Charter.[3] However, half a century later, as utilitarianism becomes outdated, no one today aiming at the root of the issue would argue for this ideology as being the very foundation of a universal human rights charter, since the doctrine is self-centred and narrow in its scope.[4] Although, portions of the utilitarian approach may be necessary to deal with justice, it is certainly not sufficient to establish universal justice. It fails: “(a) to take seriously the value of fairness; and (b) it does not provide an adequate foundation for equal civil and political liberties.”[5] This demonstrates that formulating theories of justice and rights based on the predominant human ideology of the era, without any absolute foundation, is like building a castle on sand — once the theory is disproven, the whole structure, built on its faulty premises, crumbles. This is solely because the ethical norms in relativistic spheres are all subject to change and modification. We have experienced this phenomenon in science as well. For instance, when what was once known to be a ‘scientific fact’ collapsed, all of its ramifications disintegrated. Let us, therefore, try to build rights on factual principles, not expandable or revisable theories.

Due to the use of relative standards for drafting a human rights charter, both the United Nations and the European Commission on Human Rights are obliged to constantly come up with new revisions and protocols to complete those deficiencies, the deficiencies which are realized by the passage of time. Therefore, if it is granted that all these theories and charters of rights are relative, then we can never ascertain that there are absolute violations of human rights in a certain country in every single case. Conformity or violations against a relative charter must not be the measure of human rights. We can only go so far as to say that there is violation of, for instance, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the European Convention on Human Rights in that state which has agreed to abide by such specific charters. However, if we choose to measure human rights violations or compliance, according the UN Charter, does this mean that no violation or compliance of human rights existed prior to the UN declaration of 1948—that no human rights existed prior to this date? The answer is obvious.

One could, at this stage, pose the obvious question as to why these charters as a whole, or for the most part, are relative? “To what extent is the notion of human rights an absolute or relative one? Are our views of human rights the product of our own culture?”[6] The answer, perhaps, is yes. It is due to the very fact that such rights are subject to the period, the geographic location and the prevalent cultural practices. For instance, it was only in the 20th century in Europe, that women were given permission to vote. Prior to this, women in Europe had no voting rights, or rights to engage in any political activities whatsoever. Therefore, voting rights for women were purely based on conventional agreements. Needless to say, all conventional agreements could easily be reversed, once there would be enough consent against them.

Most conventional rights are based on dominance hierarchies and power relationships, usually proposed or structured by the academic or political elite. Political philosopher Bruce Ackerman states that:

Rights are not the kinds of things that grow on trees—to be plucked, when ripe, by an invisible hand… Rights talk presupposes only the conceptual possibility of an alternative way of regulating the struggle for power—one where claims to scarce resources are established through a patterned cultural activity [italics are ours] in which the question of legitimacy is countered by an effort at justification.[7]

Hence, conventional rights are shaped by human socio-cultural values. Such ethical models arise out of the desire of the members of a particular society to regulate individuals for particular goals, or for that which they perceive to be beneficial for either the elite or the society at large. Since there are so many different cultures and values in this world, it is therefore, not surprising that there are a wide variety of different and conflicting conventional rights. These temporally based conventional rights also emanate from, and are characterized by insufficient knowledge — the knowledge that the elites possess up to the time of the formulation of such rights. Therefore, the products of their thoughts, embodied as rights, are inextricably bound by locality and age. Moreover, most systems of justice are framed to function within a specific territory. Any system of justice which can only work locally, and cannot be expanded universally is narrow in scope and inadequate. For example, when a crime is committed, the punishment may vary greatly, depending on which regional model of justice we may use, even though the social environment is the same. For instance, the punishment for homicide or abortion varies among states within the same country, such as in the United States. In another example, consider the various definitions and rights of a refugee by different international conventions. Such discrepancies “mean that a genuine refugee with full status in one part of the world would be considered ineligible and ‘false’ elsewhere.”[8]

One of the major problematic characteristics of the laws founded on relative conventional charters is that there is often a visible dichotomy between the ‘moral’ and the ‘legal’. For example, consider the United States policy on the public protection of refugees which stipulates: anyone who “knowingly conceals, harbours, or shields from detection… any alien… not lawfully entitled to enter or reside within the United States commits a federal crime.”[9] However, in this respect many individuals, as well as many humanitarian organizations knowingly refuse to abide by this governmental policy, since they feel that it violates their moral values. In fact, there is a defiant underground movement in North America, known as the ‘sanctuary movement’, whose aim is to protect illegal refugees. Here then, we witness the case of a state law, which, quite apart from the threat of punishment, fails to persuade and penetrate the consciousness of its citizens. On the other hand, in many European societies the practice of prostitution, pornography, legalized gambling, sport hunting, euthanasia and the consumption of narcotics and alcohol have been legalized; yet many citizens still refuse to indulge in such activities despite their legalization and normalization in the public domain. In fact, both the ‘moral’ and the ‘legal’ are themselves considered relative concepts. Consequently, there is often a clash between these two contrasting relative categories, leaving the society in a state of utter dilemma and confusion. In actuality, the brute fact that the moral and legal often do not overlap, indicates that there is something drastically wrong somewhere. It could either be in the moral values of the ordinary citizens or in the criteria of judgement of the legislators, or perhaps even both. The above dichotomy undeniably exists in all manmade conventional principles of justice, be they utilitarianism, libertarianism, socialism, communitarianism and so on. Therefore, it is unsatisfying to attempt to establish a theory of justice on a nation’s or state’s notion of ‘morality’, since the field of moral criteria is also full of ‘controversies’ and ‘dilemmas’. The contemporary philosopher, Alan Gewirth who recognizes the problem of legal positivism, falls into this trap:

… the criterion for answering the question must not be legal or conventional but moral. For human rights to exist there must be valid moral criteria or principles that justify that all humans, qua humans, have the rights and hence also the correlated duties.[10]

This may be an excellent solution, if we already had established an absolute foundation for moral values. To establish this foundation, is to resolve all human dilemmas. What can be constituted as ‘moral’ in this day and age of prevalent relativism? When we cannot come up with a universal concept of rights, how can we can come up with universal concept of morality? In fact, the latter is more complex and controversial than the former. The notion of rights is only one subset of societal moral issues. Thus, Gewirth’s solution begs the question of foundation.

None of the above difficulties should exist in an ‘absolute’ charter of rights. However, the notion of ‘absolute right’ has different meanings for different philosophers. For example, Alan Gewirth defines absolute rights as:

A right is absolute when it cannot be overridden in any circumstances, so that it can never be justifiably infringed and it must be fulfilled without any exceptions.[11]

The above concept of absolutism as such is not at all what is meant by ‘absolute’ in this book. Rather, what we are primarily interested in is: What constitutes a right as being absolute? It is crucial to examine the process which leads to something being designated as absolute. The aforementioned quote is the end-product of absoluteness; however, what is the process which leads to its absoluteness? How is it that a given right is universally valid and must never be overridden? Gewirth’s definition begs the question of absolute. Moreover, the fact that the ‘absolute’ right cannot be infringed may be conventionally agreed upon. It is also conventionally agreed as to which rights ought to be designated absolute, and which ones ought not to be. However, our definition of absolute rights is fundamentally different. Our concept of absolute refers to a universal set of rights which do not suffer from the vicissitudes of the age, or from the limited nature of human knowledge. These constitute a consistent set of rights that are not plagued by the discrepancies and dissimilarities between the categories of moral and moral, and, moral and legal. Such a set of laws, far from being influenced by our subjective cultural values, ought to shape our values and social norms. A set of inherent laws which applies neutrally and universally to all humans and non-humans, for all times, in all circumstances, just as the law of gravitation applies for all bodies, for all times, and in all circumstances. None of the international charters of rights do posses such characteristics. For example, the UN universal human rights charter is not like the universal law of conservation of matter and energy which existed from the beginning of the universe, for it is only a human construct which came into existence in 1948.

Indeed, is there any source from which such a universal set of rights could be extracted? Could there be a set of absolute rights from which all human actions could be measured to determine violation of or congruence with absolute rights? If so, what could they be founded upon? Where do absolute rights emanate from? In the journey towards the discovery of inherent, universal and absolute rights, a truly knowledgeable, anti-dogmatic individual will not be swayed by rhetoric, eloquence, fashion, peer pressure or ‘political correctness’. Today’s ‘heretic’ would look to the core of the issue, without special pleading and remain steadfast on that which is proven beyond any doubt to be the truth, no matter what is at stake.[12]

Using our faculty of the mind as discussed earlier and the given universe, let us ascertain what our proposed approach can yield. At the very outset, we must note that an absolute system must be based on an absolute foundation. Therefore, in this universe, what is it, that functions as absolute? What exists in this universe which is not subject to human fabrication or alteration? What is that which is independent of period and locality? What is out there, which is inherently absolute in this context? What was playing an active role before the first human lawmakers emerged onto the scene? What had existed before the first homo sapiens stepped onto the face of this planet? Nature! Humankind, since its inception, has been subject to the laws of nature, long before even the establishment of the first civil society. In fact, it is the very same laws which have led to origination of human beings. Could we, therefore, develop a charter of justice based on natural laws? What is natural law in the first place? Is the concept of ‘natural rights’ derived from natural law valid? Or is it just another manmade imaginary construct, posing as something natural? No doubt, there are those who give their personal interests, preferences, values, desires and wishes much greater weight and priority, while pretending that it is nature which is doing all the insisting. These are the ones who use nature as a means to a specific end. We shall come back to this point later on in the discussion. But first let us start with an analysis of the various views on this issue.

 

‘Natural Rights’ as Understood by Previous and Contemporary Philosophers

Various philosophers and legal experts have used the term ‘natural rights’ and argued for or against them. Aristotle, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Bentham and Peter Hogg have different conceptions of ‘natural rights’. However, in this paper what is meant by ‘natural rights’ is completely different than what these thinkers have been referring to. For example, for Spinoza and Hobbes natural rights are derived from their erroneous perception of nature, where Spinoza, for instance, sees nature as merely being driven by power. As an example, he cited that a big fish eats a little fish by natural right, since it has the power to do so. From this, he extrapolates that nature has also conferred such dominating tendencies in humans which are based on desire and power. However, if one uses reason “as the wise man has sovereign right … to live according to the laws of reason, so also the ignorant and foolish man has sovereign right to … live according to laws of desire.”[13] For Spinoza, the laws of desire are the laws of nature. Hence, if man wants to establish a beneficial society, he must move away from nature towards ‘reason’. That is to say, if all people used ‘reason’ they would establish the best form of government, which, according to his assumptions would be democratic. In a democracy, “it is almost impossible that the majority of a people, especially if it is a large one, should agree in an irrational design. And, moreover, the basis and aim of a democracy is to avoid the desires as irrational and to bring men as far as possible under the control of reason, so that they may live in peace and harmony.”[14] Spinoza’s assertions in the light of historical reality are rather naive and presumptuous. For example, when Britain was ruling India, and France ruling over Algeria, etc., there was not much hue and cry against colonialism and outright racism and oppression; rather the majority of the public blatantly supported the nationalistic domination overseas. Yet, these countries were deemed to be the paragons of large democracies. Is this, to quote Spinoza, a rational design? Is this a best form of government? One could, in fact, go further and question what Spinoza meant by reason? Reason does not sit like a disconnected idol in a vacuum, but rather, is situated in a global context, where that which matters in terms of relevancy is interconnected and not left out. Spinoza’s notion of reason, in this respect, is counter-reason, leading to a deficient model for society. Furthermore, is Spinoza’s model of nature as being based on power relations correct? ‘Not at all’ concluded by two contemporary philosophers, Robert Augros and George Stanciu, in their fascinating book The New Biology: Discovering the Wisdom in Nature. Augros and Stanciu have elegantly illustrated that far from erroneous Darwinian and Hobbesian concepts of nature as ‘red in tooth and claw with ravine’, there indeed exists harmony, balance, order and cooperation among flora and fauna in nature.[15] Consider the following symbiotic examples: many animals depend on each other for protection, food, transportation, and cleaning. On the African savannah, the baboon and the Thompson gazelle are always together. The gazelle profit from the keen vision of the baboons who can ascend trees for a lookout; the baboons, on the other hand benefit for the sensitive olfactory system of the gazelle. This ‘cooperation’ exists despite different predators for each of these two potential prey. There are countless other examples of mutualism and symbiotic behaviour. Spinoza, Hobbes and even Darwin lacked the vision to realize this and projected anthropocentric notions onto nature, tainting it with human notions of selfish power, greed and cutthroat competition. In reality the interactions among species are neither ‘cooperative’ nor ‘competitive’ —the evolutionists and ecologists all along have been barking up the wrong tree, in their anthropocentric conception of animal social behaviour. The principle which is involved here is much higher—it has to do with the smooth functioning and the preservation of the ecological balance and optimality, both spatially and temporally towards on overall goal. Given the misperceptions of Nature, it is, therefore, not surprising to see why their notions of ‘natural rights’ have encapsulated such bizarre and erroneous notions.

Take a modern definition of natural rights as defined by H.L.A. Hart, where he states:

I have two reasons for describing the equal rights of all men to be free as a natural right; both of them were always emphasized by the classical theorists of natural rights. (1) This is one which all men have if they are capable of choice: they have it qua men and not only if they are members of some society or stand in some special relation to each other. (2) This right is not created or conferred by men’s voluntary action; other moral rights are.[16]

In this quotation we cannot see any discussion as to where natural rights emanate from, but a mere reinstatement of the classical philosophers views flavoured up with the trappings of modern parlance. However, other contemporary philosophers attempted to redefine natural laws and have been influenced by the school of Hobbes and Locke. For example, political scientist Frederick Vaughan states that these two philosophers:

  … erected, in its stead, a new natural law that was founded on a new natural right. Hence, in place of Aristotle’s conception of natural right (or natural justice), Hobbes founded a new natural law on the foundations of the new natural right of self-preservation.

This new modern natural law shared nothing but the name with the old natural law. The new natural right of self-preservation (meaning comfortable self-preservation, not mere existence) was the basis for the new modern order of “possessive individualism” or modern capitalism. It rejected the theological aspects so essential to medieval or Scholastic natural law; it returned to the purely rational domain and posited the existence of a new natural law on the foundations of a new natural philosophy. The Biblical foundations of the old natural law were replaced by a rational account of man’s first condition by nature — the state of nature.[17]

Once again these theoreticians have not delved into an analysis as to what are the sources of natural rights. In fact, the modern concept of natural rights as compared with the classical definition, is different only in degree, not in kind. It can never be substantiated that the sources of natural law is nature, by merely stating so. This statement is a mere tautology and does not yield new information.

 

Natural Rights: “Nonsense upon Stilts”?

Jeremy Bentham who denounced natural rights as nonsense upon stilts was one of the strongest and the most hostile opponents of natural rights theory. For him, rights were an output of legal law. He believed that real rights emanate from real laws; but from imaginary laws, such as the “laws of nature”, arise only imaginary rights. He explicitly stated:

That which has no existence cannot be destroyed—that which cannot be destroyed cannot require anything to preserve it from destruction. Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense, nonsense upon stilts.[18]

Similar to Plato, Austin and Hobbes, he also believed in the ultimate sovereignty of the legal institution of state. For him too, ‘right is that which the government, being the stronger part of the political society, commands.’ As he stated:

Rights are, then, the fruits of the law, and of the law alone. There are no rights without law— no rights contrary to the law—no rights anterior to the law … There are no other than legal rights;—no natural rights—no rights of man, anterior or superior to those created by the laws [legislative]. The assertion of such rights, absurd in logic, is pernicious in morals.[19]

Yet it is puzzling as to why anything other than the institution of legal rights by human beings is sheer nonsense, for, how can any rights, be they moral or natural, derive from legal rights? According to this view then, what would be the basis and the foundation of any legal rights? Legal laws must obviously have a foundation. For example, consider Bentham’s views on animal welfare, which was far in advance of his time as compared to the whole of Europe. Bentham, unlike his German counterpart Immanuel Kant, tried to bring animals into the moral jurisdiction. He denounced popular recreational hunting, fishing and baiting, since such activities caused animals a great deal of pain and suffering. He even went as far as introducing new legislation in the British Parliament to protect animals from vivisection and other forms of cruelty. In response to the popular Cartesian notion of mind/body duality and the argument that animals have no soul, since they have no mind or the faculty of speech, he wrote in the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation that:

The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withheld from them but by the hand of tyranny.  … a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week or even a month old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being? [italics are ours] … The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes…[20]

From the above passage we can gather that Bentham does not at all talk like a person who believes in the idea that the sources of moral law and natural law ought to be the legal law. Rather, on the contrary he moves from the external world to the legal law. That is, his conclusion with respect to animal rights is exactly what a concerned naturalist would say. In fact, Bentham is moving from natural right to legal right, using cause (pain) and effect (suffering) as the guideline for the postulation of legal law. His position here betrays inconsistency because he is not anchored to a consistent standard by which to judge the moral nexus between things. The vital importance of non-contradiction in establishing the truth of any philosophy, has already been highlighted in the pervious chapter.

Moreover, Bentham does not establish as to what exactly are the valid sources of legal rights, which is the primary concern at the core of the issue of justice. Any legal legislation requires justification, and if justification ought to be based on legal law, then what are the sources of legal laws? This is indeed a classical example of a circular argument or a tautology, where the premise and the conclusion express the same proposition. Bentham states that “there is no law contrary to the legal law”. But this proposition itself is a law, according to this scheme; therefore, he and his followers are all blindly begging the question by chasing their own tails.

Furthermore, when a conventional legal system is deficient or unjust, such as in the case of animal welfare, he is quite helplessly forced to appeal to the external world of nature, in terms of pain and suffering which are biological responses. However, this contradicts his very own methodology of not going ‘contrary’ to the law— yet leading to another inconsistency. It is also interesting to note, as an aside, that Bentham’s argumentation of positivistic law, based on pain and suffering has a strikingly moralistic flavour to it.  Moreover, consider this: if the only true law is the legal law, then one can suppose that when, generically speaking, Cain killed Abel, the act could not have been condemned, legally or morally, since after all there was no such a thing as moral law or natural law and there was no legal law prohibiting murder or manslaughter. Finally, if the legal right is the ultimate criterion, then how could we resolve the case in which two legal rights come into conflict with each other? It seems that Bentham’s view is truly nonsense without stilts!

 

The Circular Dilemma of Positivism 

Similar to Bentham, communitarian philosopher Howard Adelman defines rights as follows:

There is no right independent of the communitarian base in which such rights are articulated.[21]

Rights were set out to justify placing limits on state action, action which was to be dependent on citizen consent while allowing individuals to pursue their various goals unimpeded. State actions not based on consent of the governed were illegitimate.[22]

Adelman’s definition is representative of a dominant view in the debate. This view, however, has a number of serious shortcomings. Aside from its relativistic connotation, Adelman is in a similar predicament as Bentham. Although, the content is different, the form of the argument is equally flawed. Adelman, too, begs the question with his tautological definition. The whole notion of lawful and unlawful, legal and illegal, rightful and unrightful, just and unjust, legitimate or illegitimate is but one set of concepts converging on a singular axis as a point of reference. The pertinent issue is: What makes something illegitimate, unjust, unlawful, illegal or unrightful in the first place? To determine one of the afore-mentioned, means determining the rest. Therefore, in attempting to define the point of reference for rights, it is futile to use an offshoot which implies an identical concept.[23] This amounts to no more than a vacuous tautological fallacy. Perhaps the flaw in his argument could be better demonstrated if his definition were restated as such:

Rights are set out to justify placing limits on state action, action which is to be dependent on citizen consent while allowing individuals to pursue their various goals unimpeded. State actions not based on consent of the governed are unrightful.

In his approach to Justice, Immigration and Refugees, Adelman like others, takes the liberty of abstaining from the most crucial issue pertaining to justice—its root. However, it might be pointed out that the notion of foundations is not the issue in the above context. One may wonder, then, what is the real issue at hand? What is the use of a tautological definition after all? If a definition is circular, then where is its foundation? Foundation implies that it supports a hierarchical structure in the argument, not circularity, even if the word ‘base’ is used within the description of the circular argument. Moreover, on what grounds do the wishes, consents, interests and goals of community become the norms and standards for determining rules and regulations? How are they justified and established as the determining criteria? On the contrary, the issue here should not at all be the wishes and desires of the people. And it is here, where Adelman misses the whole point. The ultimate concern here ought to be, to create a system that is harmoniously functional, where, for instance, the fewest number of crimes would be committed and the fewest number of people would have to be punished. What matters in policy-making is to examine whether the proposed system meets the basic needs of humanity as a whole; not only their material needs, but also their psychological needs. Is the society which is being looked after sick or healthy? To what extent does the system that is envisioned create a euphonious society, a society which is at peace with itself and nature. When harmony is not sought, optimality is unobtainable, and injustice gradually permeates into every facet of life.

In refutation of positivistic laws based on community approval, we need to be reminded of the presumptuousness of individualism. According to individualism, the main goal of legislations ought to be to preserve the rights of individuals. To preserve means not only to allow, but also to accommodate the pursuit of each person’s course of actions, whether that be abortion, euthanasia, medically assisted death, suicide, taking hallucinogens and so on. Thus, the society is only a means by which to attain these goals and is never an end in itself. In fact, most societies aspire and promote individualism, which, in turn provides the grounds for the justification of one’s personal decisions, according to one’s ambitions and personal goals, irrespective of their social consequences. Just like an individualist who erroneously thinks he is living in a vacuum, and can always justify things merely because he feels like it, a communitarian thinks that one’s community is living in a vacuum. Therefore, the community becomes the centre of the universe; everything else is there to accommodate its aspirations. The moon, the sun, the air, the law of gravity, the food-web, the cycle of hydrology, the alternation of the four seasons, the passage of time, and so on, all exist to serve man’s whims and desires. What is pathetically neglected in both cases is that we are all only an insignificant speck of dust in this vast universe. Consequently, the notion of ‘me’ or ‘us’ as the central issue in a debate which ultimately involves the welfare of the global family, particularly in the context of the totality of existence, is indeed pointless and extremely arrogant to say the least.

Adelman’s communitarian position is indeed the remnant of the individualistic outlook in a collective form. An individualist always states: “I do what pleases me, the heck with everybody else”, while communitarians state exactly the same thing, but the noun is plural, “we do what pleases us, the heck with everybody else”. This outlook, no doubt, is a breeding ground for justification of pleasure principle.

Other positivists such as Peter Hogg take a position similar to that vacuously espoused by Adelman:

The theory of legal positivism holds that law consists exclusively of “positive” law, meaning law that has been made by the law-making institutions of the state. Legal positivism denies the existence of a “natural law” that emanates from some source other than the law-making institutions of state.[24]

Philosopher L.A. Rollins:

Real rights are those rights actually conferred and enforced by the laws of a State or the customs of a social group. Such rights are sometimes called “positive rights.”[25]

Positivist, Maurice Cranston goes one step further:

Positive rights are facts. They are what men actually have.[26]

But, how on earth can the customs of a social group become laws and further be treated as ‘facts’ — the only existing ‘real rights’? This is something that only an intoxicated relativist can fathom! The transition of predominant social customs, from customs to facts, can only take place in a mind which is divorced from reality and is under some kind of illusion. If laws must be based on a positivistic system, derived from the social norms of the society, then what is all the fuss about various genocides, the nineteenth century slave trading, female circumcision and a host of other similar atrocities. After all, in each case the state was acting according to its own positivistic interpretations, approved by social norms. It is indeed a wonder, as to why it is so difficult for so many to realize that whatever is, or is becoming customary in society is not necessarily propitious.

These pseudo-intellectual positivists are blind to tangible reality right in front of their very own eyes. It is exactly because of such a relativistic mentality and easy going attitude that humanity today is in a grave crisis. When we allow the ever-changing norms of community to dictate our socio-political policies it leads to moral decay in society. Take the example of the judgement in the court case involving ‘lap dancing’ and its concomitantly abhorrent licentiousness in a Toronto strip joint, where the judge and the Provincial Attorney General summarily dismissed the charges by concluding that such activities “do not violate the moral standards of community”. This pathetic verdict was based on laws founded on community’s norms and customs. It seems that, in a positivistic scheme, what is ‘valid’, is valid only by convention, not by its nature. However, if we merely define rights as those rules which have found their ways somehow into major instruments, constitutions, and conventions. “This may be pedagogically convenient, but it is hardly satisfactory intellectually. It assumes that no human rights exist outside of treaty law, and it ignores the important process of identifying what legal rights have come to be codified as human rights, and why?”[27]

As discussed previously, the fundamental problem with positivistic approach is that the whole system is just a matter of arbitrary construction. The best product it can possibly yield cannot be better than its own logical construction, involving internal consistency throughout the system, as advocated by Bruce Ackerman. As such, although, it may deal with internal consistency, it fails to consider the notion of external consistency. Positivism, in its highest form, cannot be independent of logic. Yet, all systems of logic cannot be independent of the rules within that system. Without such rules, the system cannot be validated. Its validity solely depends on its own rules. All arguments for the validity of any positivistic systems are tautological. To illustrate this point, take the example of a dictionary, where every single word is defined according to another word within the same dictionary. The dictionary, therefore, is only internally valid, not externally. A definition given in a dictionary, may or may not agree with the definition given in another dictionary. The given definition may or may not even correspond with the reality of cause and effect. Therefore, just like a dictionary, rights set in a positivistic system are all human innovations and their justifications are based on their own internal system. This system may or may not have any relationships with the external reality of cause and effect.

A more relevant example can be seen in the defence policies of Turkish government towards Kurdish uprising. The Turkish government continuously refers to the PKK as bunch of outlaws. This simply boils down to: according to our constitutional laws you guys are outlaws. However, according to the Kurds, it is the Turks who are outlaws. According to Kurdish revolutionary laws the guerrillas are freedom fighters. Brian Slattery, another Osgoode law professor who recognizes the circularity of positivism, would respond as such to positivistic definition of rights:

If the standards of one legal system are chosen over those of another without reason given, the solution is arbitrary. If reasons are supplied, they must be founded on principles that transcend the competing legal systems involved, for to draw reasons just from one system or another would involve circularity and also arbitrariness. That is, the question of which system of law should govern cannot be resolved by reference to principles secreted by one of the competing systems without arbitrarily assuming the supremacy of that system, which is the very question to be resolved.[28]

Here is Frederick Vaughan, an opponent of positivism, in his own words:

…, unless we can justify those rights in more than the caprice of the passing moment, we are like the blind leading the blind.[29]

Finally, in dealing with positivism, what is dangerously fallacious is to measure rights prescribed in different human communities according to one’s own system, as for instance, assuming that whatever America formulates as rights, is what the whole human race needs, seeks and ought to be given. Such a narrow outlook carries the underlying assumption that the West sets the standards for human rights. One common example, is the evaluation of women’s rights in a comparative context. In the West, women’s freedom is often measured in the most bizarre manner: Freedom, modernity and progression are viewed by how much skin a woman is expected and willing to reveal. There is rather a peculiar assumption at the very outset, that the more she takes-off her garments, the more she displays her private parts and the more she emphasizes on her sexuality in public, the more liberated she is, the more rights and freedoms she enjoys. Juxtaposing this Western perspective with other socio-cultural values, modesty then becomes a sign of ultra-regression. Thus, the more willingly an alien woman covers her body, the more she desexualizes herself for the public, then the more she is taken to be oppressed, suppressed, repressed and depressed. Basically, such egocentric convictions lead us to view others disparagingly, echoing beliefs such as “if they do not live like us, they are deprived and depraved.” Indeed, how pathetic and naive can such ubiquitous and self-aggrandizing assumptions be. Consequently, such an erroneous attitude is not free from deleterious side-effects and violations of rights. For example, in the above case, it results in a significant subliminal societal discrimination against desexualized women in one way or another. Most often, recognitions and opportunities for women who cover and preserve themselves decreases, despite their qualifications, while recognitions and opportunities for women who present themselves as sexual objects increases, despite their possible lack of qualifications.

In conclusion, positivism falls into the category of a tautological theory, not solid fact. As we have pointed out, values ought to be established according to facts, not theories, for what is the merit of theoretical values, after all? We can observe that the common property of all these attempts at describing natural law and positive law is that they suffer from the fallacy of begging the question. They all circumvent the foundational issue of rights. Thus, the opponents of natural rights take these vacuous arguments as definitive, and assume by induction that natural rights have no ground in any legal scheme for humankind.

 

The Foundation of All Rights

Human beings and all other living creatures inhabit a universe which is governed by physical laws. These laws are defined by cause and effect relationships, and are, therefore, inherent, absolute and universal. What is meant by cause and effect, is that every course of action is followed by its effects; in other words, for every action there is a network of concomitant reaction(s). The interconnectivity of the chain of events (cause and effect) is well analyzed by sociologists, political scientists, economists, physicists and ecologists in their respective fields.

In this world of interconnectivity, animals are dependent upon resources for sustenance. They are perfectly adapted to derive sustenance from nature. In fact, they are adapted to the extent that their biological structures and functions permit such sustaining interactions to take place. Animals’ biological structures and functions are correlated with their niches. Their interaction is their behaviour which, in turn, is governed by rules and limits. These rules in turn establish a balance in nature. In nature, undeniably, there are pre-existing engrained rules, governing the behaviour of all living organisms, which in the dynamic interplay of life lead to omnidirectional balance and optimality. One example, among countless others on earth, to maintain such natural equilibrium is the novel usage of niches, according to time. Most habitats have two ecological communities, the daytime and the nighttime.[30] For instance, in tropical rainforests and prairies during the daytime, bees, butterflies, weasels, most lizards and birds are active. At sunset they rest and the night-shift takes over, which includes cockroaches, frogs, snails, moths, mice, bats, and owls. Moths, for example, “feed on white or pale yellow flowers that only open at night, thereby” leaving the flowers that only open during the daytime untouched. The latter flowers are used only by the day-shift creatures such as bees, wasps, butterflies and humming birds. Ecologist Charles Elton describes the temporally specialized usage of resources by day and night:

Not only is one kind of animal replaced by another, but one kind of food chain is replaced by another, and certain niches which are unused by any animal during the day become occupied at night. The weaselbank vole industry is changed into a tawny owl-wood mouse industry. The woodpecker-ant connection has no equivalent at night, while the moth-nightjar or bat chain is almost unrepresented by day. In fact, one food-cycle is switched off and another starts up to take its place. With the dawn the whole thing is switched back again.[31]

This example vividly indicates that animal behaviour follows certain patterns, which lead to optimality in the preservation of the balance of nature. At this point one may ask: how does the so-called ‘teleological presumption’ creep in? As a rejoinder, one may well ask; would any alternatives other than the so-called teleological be feasible? Are the above ecological shifts the product of accident, or, were mutually conventional arrangements made among the various species that were involved, arranged by word of mouth? The above-mentioned citation is a clear example of the limits of the habitat usage which ensures the proper flow of the system leading to stability—one of the measures of the balance. These purposive rules and limits are not manmade but inherent in nature, and are indubitably teleological (goal-directed) in the context discussed.

There is a great deal of confusion concerning the issue of the balance of nature, where it is thought that, for instance, the extinction of species over the aeons undermines the notion of balance, let alone perfect adaptation, because it implies that when the environment changed, then some species were not adapted to it and could not cope. Many neo-Darwinian biologists presume that the balance was broken and they went extinct! The problem with this view is that it is rooted in the conception of the present state of nature as having been a result of evolution based on chance and randomness, where things happen by trial and error—where these notions are taken as the premise, rejecting a goal directed system (teleological). However, it should not be difficult for anyone to see that this universe has directionality, from its very emergence with the Big Bang to the present. The development of this universe is such that it is as if it were ‘pursuing an intention’; this was candidly confessed, in fact, during the Eighth International Conference on the Origin of Life, held at Berkeley, California by the keynote speaker, the late Nobel Laureate George Wald of Harvard University. He was commenting on the growing realization that the parameters by which the universe has been arranged over time are so precise as to anticipate and be provisional for future lifeforms. One of these lifeforms is the unique species — homo sapiens. As has been noted even by the champions of randomness and chance in the areas of evolutionary biology, if the dinosaurs had not died out, the mammals, and hence humans, as the ‘dominating and pervasive’ species would not have surfaced. Furthermore, in the introduction to Mechanical Design of Organisms, the co-authors, zoologists and biologists, apologetically state that:

The idea that biological materials and structures have functions implies that they are ‘designed’; hence the book’s title. We run into deep philosophical waters here, and we can do little but give a commonsense idea of what we mean. In our view structures can be said to be designed because they are adapted for particular functions. They are not merely appropriate for these functions, because that could happen by chance.[32]

The notion of the balance of nature, therefore, in reality has two components. The first is the component of stasis or stability to maintain the order. The second is the balancing of the relations by the elimination of one species after its having existed for some duration due to a change in the ecological order by, say, a change in the global weather pattern. Therefore, both the equilibrium states of stasis and the dynamical equilibrium states of possible evolution form one system in space and time functioning with directionality. That everything in nature and over time is perfectly adapted to the environment is a fact which cannot be justifiably denied. This has led to the notion of the Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP) as defined by cosmologists J.D. Barrow and F.J. Tipler as that which leads to “interpretations of a radical nature … [such that] … There exists one possible Universe ‘designed’ with the goal of generating and sustaining ‘observers’.”[33] More concisely, they define (SAP) as: “The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history.”[34]

The whole panoramic panoply of cosmic development from the Big Bang to the galaxies, to the stellar systems to a once barren earth, to the final emergence of a blue planet, profuse with animated nature displays an intelligent process. In this scheme the human being is a part of nature, not apart from nature, and is governed by the very same set of universal laws. Although man is a part of nature, he may be able to impede the equilibrium of nature, due to his ability to choose. He causes harm by not connecting things the way they have been designed to be connected because of his ability to choose not to connect. This choice is a direct function of man’s highly evolved brain-mind complex, which is far beyond that of any other creature on earth. The responsibility of man is indeed commensurate with the evolution of that cerebral capacity. Yet again, here we see a balance both in what nature has yielded for man, as well as what man is expected to fulfil due to his potential. However, the difference between human beings and other organisms lies in the physiological structure and its correlated function, which includes the mental faculty—the mind. If animal behaviour is regulated by its structure and function, which is integrally coupled to the environment leading to the balance, then in principle, this scenario should also hold true for man; that is, man should likewise be integrally coupled to nature. In other words, if the rules in the animal kingdom ensure the global balance, by linkage to the way in which the animals have been adaptively designed, so too, in principle must be the rules which govern the human being. This is because the particular rules are derived from the same general laws which are applicable to all entities, from amoeba to man. These innate rules emanate from natural processes which are based on cause and effect relations which themselves naturally tend to preserve the equilibrium, if not impeded by human beings.  Social balance in animal communities is intrinsically and intricately connected to ecological balance. Similarly, social balance in human communities ideally ought to be linked to the balance of nature, if the total system is to remain in equilibrium. Unlike humans, animals do not violate the inherent rules, nor do they fall short of them. Human beings on the other hand, due to conventional rights and various other factors often do so, as the present state of the world clearly attests. In fact, all that is necessary for a global balance is that human beings follow such absolute, natural laws as derived from nature, commensurate with their natural physical and mental endowments.

The fact of balance in the universe as the basis of the absolute system of rights is most significant, because justice itself is a function of the balance. Anything that falls short of this, cannot be called justice, due to its incompleteness, disjointedness, inconsistency and localization—all leading to the cyclones of disaster through adverse side-effects. Justice is not embodied by capitalism, communism, socialism, conservatism, liberalism, utilitarianism, libertarianism, pluralism, positivism, conventionalism, communitarianism, totalitarianism, puritanism, contractarianism, relativism, humanism, mysticism, feminism, theocracy, democracy, oligarchy, nationalism, tribalism, or any other ‘ism’, because as already has been established, they are all human constructs and visionary ideologies, designed to serve the selfish interests of those who formulate them. Justice is only embodied by doing the right thing, and doing the right thing means recognizing and acting in synchrony with the pre-eminency of the structural and functional balance of nature, by realizing how things should fit in within that very scheme, in order to maintain it for all the intervolved elements which comprise this universe.

From the above discussion, it is evident that all systems in nature are interlinked, whether we are aware of the details of the interlinkages or not. This is the way nature functions, and this is the cause of its success in the profusion and diversity of life in the social or communal level, in both animal and conceivable human communities, by what we could term as being absolute in content and scope. Any other man-made conventional system cannot be better than this system because this system is the one which maintains the balance—the equilibrium. Any other system, in fact, which goes against this system, based on cause and effect relations, would be an unnatural system causing disequilibrium and harm. If the system is absolute then is complete and universal, and vice versa.

 

The Equigenic Principle

Take the case of termite colonies, where millions of termites live and interact together incessantly. Here is an example of interdependency of justice based on the balance. In such a dynamically efficient and harmonious society, every member follows the inherent natural laws prescribed to sustain the whole society. The efficacy of the society is no less precise than the interacting, interlocking components of a Swiss watch. Termites direct their daily activities by a complex system of government. Every single termite engages in its goal directed functions. No one violates any rules. There is no sexism, no egotism, no racism, no oppression, no fear of persecution or seeking of refuge to another colony for safety. There is no monopolization of the common resources. There is no deprivation of one’s needs. No one neglects the obligations and duties; all work together as an efficient team for the needs of the entire colony. What indeed is the key to their unmitigated perennial stability and resilience? This colony is only one among many other animal communities serving to maintain themselves as well as the overall balance of the ecosystem on earth.

Does all of this mean that the human being should live like termites? When it comes to human society, is it appropriate to draw inferences indiscriminately from animal world? Obviously not. It is not always possible to make logical comparisons between human and animal communities. We ought to be aware of the use and misuse of analogies. All animal communities have their own set of rules of behaviour. What is natural behaviour for one species may not make the same behaviour natural for another species. This is because the particular rules are specifically geared according to structure and function of each species, and these may vary significantly from species to species and more so from animal species to humans. For example, the species of lemming in Scandinavia naturally control their population by migrating in droves, and many die in the process (inadvertently – as they do not do this to commit suicide, which is a gross misunderstanding!), if their niche gets overpopulated. Does this mean the people in overpopulated China and India ought to follow the same strategy? In the case of lemmings, in order to produce overall stability and balance in the interconnected ecosystem, it is necessary that they migrate in droves, as it is the optimal option. Lemmings naturally follow this behaviour as it comes from within, where they are instinctually drawn to this end just in order to preserve the balance. However, in the case of humans, overpopulation is not the real problem;[35] rather, it is the distribution of resources in terms of food and artificially bordered lands. Moreover, unlike lemmings the humans have an alternative to improve their situation. In fact, the lemmings drowning in the lake is similar to them being eaten by predators. In this case, however, the lake acts as a predator in which they are actually eaten by the aquatic species. This process, is part of the predator-prey food web system which comprises the animal kingdom and which maintains stability and the particular niches that each species lives in. No human society collectively and instinctually would be drawn to this regulative animal function, since it is counter to the maintenance of balance. The whole exercise, from an anthropocentric perspective may seem like massive or insane suicide, but from nature’s objective perspective it is an equilibrium producing action. The phenomenon, in principle is no different than a lion chasing, capturing and devouring a zebra.

Now do all of these mean that human beings should live like termites, lemmings or lions? In principle, yes we must — and by this it is meant submitting to the natural laws. The termites naturally flow with the structure of their environment. This environment is coupled to their own physical structures. The most important coupling between the human and his niche—which is the whole earth—is the usage of his mind and reason to recognize the connections between things, in order that he maintain the balance instead of deviating from it. If any human being does not use his or her mind interconnectively then, that given faculty which is innately geared for critically observing, questioning, thinking, reasoning and recognizing the connections, will be in violation of the same principle of submission which the termites are unconditionally geared for. The inevitable consequence will be: an erosion of equilibrium and stability, not only in human societies, but also in the animal and ecological spheres. That is to say, like the termites’ unconditional conformity in every endeavour of life, the human being, has to, in this case, willingly keep in mind that he must measure the consequences of his actions at the personal and social levels, in order to maintain the overall balance of the whole global family which he is only a part of. It is solely through the realization of the balances that would man be able to establish justice, and it is only through this kind of justice—the only real justice—that would man be able to live in overall peace, and hence, security. Nevertheless, there are many who think otherwise. Philosopher L.A. Rollins in his attack on natural law states:

The difference is that laws made by government are enforced by the punishment of detected violators by the government while natural laws are not enforced by the punishment of violators by nature.[36]

However, in this day and age, with the ever-increasing destruction of the environment, hardly any ecologist who would concur with Rollins’ remarkably ignorant and fragmented view. The lesson that nature has been teaching us all along, which man has been blatantly ignoring all along, is that, should we interfere with the laws of nature, should we neglect our duties towards nature, we shall suffer from its devastating consequences, especially once the repercussions gets out of control. The point here is that nature has its governing laws, as well as its own modes of punishment, some direct, whereas others subtly indirect. Problems arising from the phenomena of environmental refugees, acid rain, drought, endangered species etc., are cases in point. The tragic monumental collapse of the Atlantic fisheries in Newfoundland, Canada, is a good example where nature retaliates against man the defiant. In fact, the superiority of nature’s laws as compared with conventional governmental laws is that in nature all violations are detected and consequently recorded in the chain of cause and effect. But, as Rollins admits, in conventional systems many violations may go undetected and unpunished, and hence they cannot be deemed to be adequate systems of justice. Therefore, it clearly follows that, if humanity deviates from this natural state, it would be engulfed in a quagmire of abysmal injustices and social anarchies with only one question left: how much worse will it get? The American poet H.W. Longfellow realized that: “The laws of nature are just, but terrible. There is no weak mercy in them. Cause and consequence are inseparable and inevitable. The elements have no forbearance. The fire burns, the water drowns, the air consumes, the earth buries. And perhaps it would be well for our race if the punishment of crimes against the laws of man were as inevitable as the punishment of crimes against the laws of nature—were man as unerring in his judgements as nature.”

At the societal level, let us consider the following example of humans defying the balanced laws of nature. In certain regions of India, many factors have contributed to severe economic hardships, including the lack of proper education. This has led the imprudent masses to develop the epidemic preference for the male child over the female child, where a boy is seen as an added source of income to the family, but a girl is perceived as an unproductive and costly consumer.[37] This erroneous attitude has consequently caused a widespread heinous practice of infanticide of the newborn female. This, in turn has prompted a disastrous imbalance of the male/female ratio in the region[38] and has consequently led to many other sociological, economical and ecological crises, which have then generated many violations of justice and human rights and vice versa through feedback effects. This example demonstrates a clear point: That is, injustice breeds injustice in the chain of cause and effect. Therefore, in order to prevent the harmful aftermath of an occurrence of injustice at the end, or anywhere along the chain of events, we ought to take the proper first step. That is allowing the series of events to grow naturally towards the appropriate direction, in order to maintain the balance. Only the realization of the above, would then guarantee complete justice throughout the entire chain of events. All other issues, such as the inherent natural right of baby girls to life become secondary.

By inherent natural rights what is meant is not that which the classical, modern and contemporary political philosophers have held. This distinction is most crucial. Natural rights as described in this section are founded on the equilibrium of nature alone. Such rights can be termed as equigenic rights, having their origin in the nature’s equilibrium. Equigenic rights are not only founded upon, but are also realized through, demanded by, and have their origination in the ubiquitous balance of nature. This is what makes them truly absolute, in the non-conventional sense. A lack of understanding and application of this natural perspective is what has caused all the untold devastation throughout the ages, in all parts of the world. Humankind has indeed ignored the equigenic rights of a great many of the integral animate and inanimate components of the cosmos by deviating from nature’s web of dynamic equilibrium.[39] The problems that we are facing today are, in fact, symptomatic of this deviation.

The Equigenic Principle resolves the fact and value issue, since facts are determinable and the notion of value or good becomes precisely definable and achievable as being based upon the balance of nature and the structural and functional processes that comprise the whole. One would be able to use the Equigenic Principle as a point of reference for what is good, and good would be deemed as having physicalistic property[40] or a natural property—not something conceptually abstract, but empirically embedded, confirmable and realizable. The neglect of the notion of the balance has indeed led to a problematic obfuscation of the issues as volumes and volumes have been written over the years with no apparent resolution. To draw upon an analogy, once the geocentric theory was being espoused, it led to the creation of epicycles to explain retrograde motion. The system became more and more complex (epicycles within epicycles) in order to explain discrepancies. However, by realizing that the sun was at the centre, all of these problems were resolved in one grand stroke. Similarly, by realizing the Equigenic Principle, one automatically resolves such issues, towards creating a society which is integrated in thought and in practice, with itself as well as with the rest of nature. One then not only realizes that values are not relative and subjective, but that they are indeed absolute and objective. One can then assist society to move towards an optimal condition with respect to all the facets of life, where the division between science and religion is meaningless, and morality becomes an integrally holistic phenomenon from which beneficial policies for all humankind and other species can be established. If totally rational, one would also realize that the Equigenic Principle cannot be based on chance, and that such a scheme of incalculably detailed and precise cosmic order, must perforce have an independent orderer, to wit, an intelligence, and that this must be the source of all rights to whom all accountability is due.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rawls, John. (1971), Theory of Justice, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rollins, L. A. (1983), The Myth of Natural Rights, Loompanics Unlimited, Port Townsend, Wash.

Slattery, Brian. (1991), “Aboriginal Sovereignty and Imperial Claims”, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Winter, Vol. 29, No. 4.

Spinoza, Baruch. (1951), A Theological-Political Treatise, Translated with an introduction by R.H.M. Elwes, Dover Publications, New York.

Thor Dahlburg, John. (1994), “Where killing baby girls ‘is no big sin’”, Toronto Star, February 28, reprint from the Los Angles Times.

Vaughan, Frederick. (1991), “On Being a Positivist: Does it Really Matter?”, Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Toronto, Vol. 29, No. 2.

Wainwright, S. A., Biggs, W. D., Currey, J. D., Gosline, J. M. (1982), Mechanical Design in Organisms, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.

 

  

 

[1] This section has been extracted and slightly modified from Chapter 3 of Nadeem Haque and Mehran Banaei’s original 1995 edition of the book: From Facts to Values: Certainty, Order, Balance and their Universal Implications. The book is scheduled for publication online in 2018. Hard copies of the first edition are available from IHR; contact the author, nhaque@mail.com.

[2] Despite popular belief, terms commonly used such as ‘universal justice’, ‘global justice’ or ‘absolute justice’, technically speaking are tautological concepts similar to terms like ‘hot fire’, ‘wet water’ or ‘green grass’. Justice must indeed be absolute and universal, otherwise it is not justice at all. Such adjectives added to justice are redundant.

[3] See Articles: 4 (b & c), 8, 10, 15, etc.

[4] Rawls, John. (1971), Theory of Justice.

[5] Buchanan, Allan and Mathieu, Deborah (1986), “Philosophy and Justice”, in the Justice: Views from the Social Sciences, edited by Ronald L. Cohn, p. 25.

[6] Higgins, Rosalyn. (1983), The European Convention on Human Rights, p. 539.

[7] Ackerman, Bruce. (1980), Social Justice in the Liberal State, p. 5.

[8] Joly, Daniele & Nettleton, Clive & Poulton, Hugh. (1991), Refugees: Asylum in Europe,  p. 15.

[9] For specific details refer to ‘The United States Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986’.

For commentary see: Gerety, Tom. (1988), “Sanctuary: A Comment on the Ironic Relation Between Law and Morality”, in The New Asylum Seekers, edited by David A. Martin, p. 158.

[10] Gewirth, Alan. (1981), “The Basis and Content of Human Rights”, in the Human Rights, edited by J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman, p. 120.

[11] Gewirth, Alan. (1984), “Are There Any Absolute Rights?”, p. 92.

[12] It was Vaclav Havel, the former President of Czechoslovakia who once said: ‘…a single, seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of truth and to stand behind it with all his person and all his life, ready to pay a high price, has, surprisingly, greater power, though formally disfranchised, than do thousands of anonymous voters.’

[13] Spinoza, Baruch. (1951), A Theological-Political Treatise, Ch. 16.

[14] Ibid., Ch. 16.

[15] Augros, Robert and Stanciu, George. (1988) The New Biology: Discovering the Wisdom in Nature, Chapters: 4, 5 & 7.

[16] Hart, H.L.A. (1984), “Are There Any Natural Rights?”, pp. 77-78.

[17] Vaughan, Frederick. (1991), “On Being a Positivist: Does it Really Matter?”, p. 407.

[18] Bentham, Jeremy. (1843), Anarchical Fallacies, edited by Jeremy Waldron (1987), Nonsense upon Stilts, p. 53.

[19] Bowring, John. (1962), Pennomial Fragments, in the Works of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 3, p. 221.

[20] Bentham, Jeremy. (1823), Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Ch. 17.

[21]Adelman, Howard. (1992) “Justice, Immigration and Refugees”, p. 9.

[22]Ibid., p. 4.

[23]Copi, Irving M. (1978), Introduction to Logic, Rule 2, pp. 155-156.

[24] Hogg, Peter W. (1991), “On Being a Positivist: A Reply to Professor Vaughan”, p. 412.

[25] Rollins, L.A. (1983), The Myth of Natural Rights, p. 2.

[26] Cranston, Maurice. (1979), “What Are Human Rights?”, p. 17.

[27] Higgins, Rosalyn. (1983), The European Convention on Human Rights, p. 538.

[28] Slattery, Brian. (1991), “Aboriginal Sovereignty and Imperial Claims”, p. 691.

[29] Vaughan, Frederick. (1991), “On Being a Positivist: Does it really matter?”, pp. 408-409.

[30]. Augros, Robert and Stanciu, George. (1988), The New Biology: Discovering the Wisdom in Nature, p. 95.

Gamlin, Linda. (1983), (ed.) Nightwatch: The Natural World from Dusk to Dawn.

[31] Elton, Charles. (1968), Animal Ecology, p. 86.

[32] Wainwright, S.A., Biggs, W.D., Currey, J.D., Gosline, J.M. (1976), Mechanical Design in Organisms, p.1.

[33] Barrow, John D. and Tipler, Frank J. (1986), The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, p. 22.

[34] Ibid., p. 21.

[35] Lappe, Frances Moore and Collins, Joseph. (1986), World Hunger: The Twelve Myths.

Belsey, Andrew. (1992), “World Poverty, Justice and Equality”, p. 36.

[36] Rollins, L.A. (1983), The Myth of Natural Rights, p. 3.

[37] Anderson, John Ward and Moore, Molly. (1993), “Murdered at Birth–for Being Female”.

Thor Dahlburg, John. (1994), “Where killing baby girls ‘is no big sin’”.

[38] According to “Let Her Die”, a joint 1994 BBC & CBC television documentary, it is believed that currently India is in shortage of approximately 25,000,000 females, the approximate population of Canada.

[39] It is interesting to note that in this sense the Equigenic Principle recapitulates the Strong Anthropic Principle, in the sense that the very structures in the universe have been designed to a very precise degree so that carbon based life in general and specifically human life should emerge to maintain the balance, at a most complex level.

[40] Putnam, Hilary. (1981), Reason, Truth and History, pp. 205-211.

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