Could Poverty Be A Violation Of Human Rights?

5200 words - 21 pages

Political Philosophy
Candidate number: 847044
Word count (excluding bibliography): 4913

2. (a) Could poverty be a violation of human rights?

Introduction
In this essay I argue that poverty could be, and sometimes is, a violation of human rights. But what counts as a ‘violation’?
After sorting out terminology (section 1), I distinguish three ways in which impoverishment could be a human rights violation (section 2). When an agent deliberately acts to impoverish someone, the resulting impoverishment, indisputably, is a violation of human rights. In contrast, when an agent merely omits to aid someone who is impoverished, it is deeply implausible that the impoverishment ...view middle of the document...

1. Terminology and Assumptions
Let’s get some terms clear before we begin. I’ll interpret ‘poverty’ to mean extreme and absolute (rather than relative) poverty: though it has its problems, and is undoubtedly too low, I’ll follow the World Bank in interpreting extreme absolute poverty as consumption expenditure lower than US$1.25 a day at 2005 prices, purchasing power parity adjusted.

This essay will discuss whether there is a human right to freedom from poverty, and, if so, what form it should take. For now, we’ll formulate it as the right to have access to income such that one needn’t live in extreme poverty. The emphasis on access is important: if the recipient chooses to give away all her income it’s implausible to suppose that there remains a duty to supply the agent with an income, rather than merely to make sure that the agent has the opportunity to receive an income if she desires.

I use ‘agent’ to refer both to persons and to collective agents, such as states, organisations and corporations.

I do not discuss out-and-out scepticism about human rights. Though I assume that paradigmatic human rights, such as the human right not to be tortured, are justified, I don’t assume what the nature of that justification is, or what being a right precisely involves.

2. An easy question?
Depending on how one interprets ‘violation’, our starting question could be easily answered. Let’s distinguish three notable types of causes of poverty that are contenders for being human rights violations.

Let’s call the first type-1 impoverishment: where an agent A deliberately acts such that she causes a person S to be in poverty.

To illustrate, here’s an imaginary example. Suppose that a group of households live by farming unowned land, but that this land was appropriated by the government, because the households were not supportive of that government, and the government wished to make them destitute. This would be a type-1 cause of poverty. Indisputably, it would be a violation of human rights, for three reasons.
First, it seems that whatever grounds one gives in order to justify human rights, the right not to be deliberately impoverished will be justified by that ground. Not being impoverished is as important to persons as paradigmatic examples of other rights, such as the right not to be assaulted or tortured: it is important whether one cashes this out in terms of persons’ wellbeing, their autonomy or their needs.
Second, the right not to be deliberately impoverishmed is a negative right, like paradigmatic human rights: it imposes duties on others only to refrain from acting in certain ways; it does not impose, for example, positive duties of assistance. So even those who think that all human rights are negative rights should have no problem with the claim that there exists a human right not to be deliberately impoverished.
Third, even if one thinks that poverty cannot itself constitute a human rights violation,...

Other Papers Like Could Poverty Be a Violation of Human Rights?

How Persuasive Is Nozick's Account of How a Minimal State Could Emerge from a Suitably Specified State of Nature Without Violating Anyone's Rights?

1055 words - 5 pages How persuasive is Nozick's account of how a minimal state could emerge from a suitably specified state of nature without violating anyone's rights? In Anarchy, State, and Utopia Nozick gives extreme importance to self-ownership. It is from here that the rights and then the minimal state originate from. As individuals own themselves, they cannot be treated as means and must be seen as ends, in Kantian fashion (Chia, 2010). Individuals are

How It Came to Be That Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth: a Study Into the Problems of Ill-Defined Property Rights “Resources Are Limited, Whereas Human Wants Are Unlimited. Economics Is the Study of How...

2343 words - 10 pages constitution and unitary constitution. But for the very clear picture of this conclusion first of all we have to know that what is the federal constitution and what is unitary constitution. What feature of Indian constitution makes it federal or what features makes it unitary. The question whether the Indian Constitution could be called a federal constitution troubled the minds of the members of the Constituent Assembly. This question cannot be

Could the Legalization of Gambling Be Beneficial to the Economy?

1724 words - 7 pages revenues from gambling for potential emergencies. There could be an Acts of God budget, to ensure that the state would have money to take care of natural disasters. Having a budget for natural disasters is something that has been discussed lately. This is because after Hurricane Katrina hit, Louisiana did not have enough money or a plan for an emergency situation such as that one. The government could also use part of their new additional money to

Female Domestic Violence And Rape Towards Men: A Review Of The Human Rights Issue

2761 words - 12 pages realize that men could be raped. Ben’s life has since gone downhill. He wakes up to get stoned and then drinks himself to sleep, self-medicating in an effect to cope with his anxiety (Kulze 2013). This issue is also prevalent in the Kenya where women are using rape as a source of revenge against rape themselves. Kenya is hoping the church will help considerably combat the issue (NTV Kenya 2013). Women are also killing their husbands for the rights to

Forms Of Intervention In Human Rights Abuse

3085 words - 13 pages therefore becomes concerned with the forms of action the North American government will take to intervene.Some forms of intervention are through media, diplomacy and finally war. The focus will be on how North Americans feel about these forms of intervention and how these forms if intervention may or may not be effective.Media has a very large impact on society affecting intervention in Human Rights Abuse. They are the people that society looks to

Poverty Is a State of Mind

1252 words - 6 pages prevented him for ending like his dad, so he later on could get a good education. Next, he wanted to get out of poverty, because he got arrested a couple of times, and he thought poverty and his disaffection with society affected him badly. So he got into a university to become a social worker, but through the education he drank and smoked. He says: “You can take the boy out of poverty, but you can’t take the poverty out of the boy. I was raised in the

Poverty Is a State of Mind

1303 words - 6 pages found when there is a lack of education, understanding, hope – liberty, fraternity, equality, as the French say.” This is where his point of view really appears, the point of view that poverty is a state of mind. Therefore, there is a contrast by those who are poor by soul and those who decides not to be poor by soul. But is this really true? Is it possible to let go of your poverty just like that? Bernard Hare pulled oneself together when he

How Do Black Holes Form and Could They Be a Threat to Earth

1515 words - 7 pages LaMar Pierre Jackson Jr. Mrs. Matthews Freshman Composition 26 November 2012 Black Holes How Do Black Holes Form and Could They Be a Threat To Earth? The universe is a realm filled with wonder, excitement, chaos, and an endless series of questions. Within this mysterious realm lie’s an infinitive number of stars, galaxies, planets, and countless other astronomical phenomenon’s. Though these are all wonders in their own right, many more

Property Rights of a Partner

4775 words - 20 pages deceased partner cannot claim any right under the homestead or exemption laws. This is because in a sense, the property is not considered their individual or separate property.) [NOTE: Reason why in general, the right of the partner in the car cannot be attached by his separate or individual creditor: If he cannot make a voluntary assignment, neither should his separate creditors be allowed an involuntary assignment because “the beneficial rights

Significance of Un Declaration of Human Rights on Indigenous People

2116 words - 9 pages significant since the indigenous people are consulted prior to any decision on their property or even their territories so that they can be aware of what’s going on. If they are not consulted then they have the right to be compensated for violation of those rights. Conflicts can now be resolved fairly and mutually without being biased on one group of people by following acceptable procedures to resolve such conflicts between the states and the

Perceptions on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

2374 words - 10 pages office; equality rights that guarantee equal citizenship, equality before the law, and nondiscrimination; and social rights that require provision of education to all children and protections against severe poverty and starvation. a) Human Rights are political norms dealing mainly with how people should be treated by their government and institutions. b) Human rights exist as moral and /or legal rights c) Human rights are numerous (several

Related Essays

Human Rights Violation Essay

1181 words - 5 pages breach the human rights of people. Often, rebels of the LRA impersonate military soldiers or ambush the gatherings of villages. Brutal attacks are launched, killing those who are old or week using weapons and they cut off people lips, noses and ears to serve as a warning to others. They capture those who are useful to them, usually constituting as children. The captives are marched to camps where they are turned into soldiers, porters, cooks or sex

A Short History Of Human Rights

4677 words - 19 pages principles was captured in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address when he spoke of a world founded on four essential freedoms: freedom of speech and religion and freedom from want and fear (See Using Human Rights Here & Now). The calls came from across the globe for human rights standards to protect citizens from abuses by their governments, standards against which nations could be held accountable for the treatment

Violators Of Human Rights Essay

5553 words - 23 pages . Officers should be required to be tested every two years to make sure they are knowledgeable, and kept up to date with any recent changes. As times change, so too will the way to handle different situations. Some of the veteran cops might not know how to deal with certain situations the way that a less experienced officer might be able to, and vice versa. The violation of human rights by the NYPD is far too common in this day and age. We see it

To What Extent Could Luther Be Called A Revolutionary?

1833 words - 8 pages written to be read by scholars of a university, not peasants. If Luther had really intended a revolution then he would have written the Theses in the vernacular which would have meant the peasants could have read it, understood it, and acted upon it immediately in the form of a revolt. One other piece of evidence that suggests that Luther was not intending a revolution is that Luther’s opening statement on the Theses is ‘Out of love for the truth