Sunday, July 19, 2015

Thoughts With Respect to Respect.

There are two, at a minimum, diametrically opposed concepts regarding the nature and requirements for affording respect.

The first concept makes a claim on every human to afford respect to every other human, based on the equal yet special value of each human. This means that there is a human "Right" to respect.

The second concept claims that respect is not a human "Right", that it must be gained, like trust, through an observable, consistent production of responsible behaviors.

Because these concepts are not just incompatible - they are mutually contradictory - then there are the following possibilities: (a) one of them is false; (b) both of them are false; (c) one or both concepts are incompletely stated,so that the contradiction does not actually occur when the concepts are complete.

Before deciding how to approach this issue, it should be noted that the concepts, as stated, are currently used in ideological arguments and culture war scenarios. If the concepts are wrong or incomplete, then their usage is bound to lead to false conclusions. I believe that to be the case, because...

Both concepts are acceptable under modifying conditional statements, and so are not contradictory. But the complete statements must attach.

First, the idea that respect is a human Right derives from the western Judeo-Christian concept that all humans are equal in the eyes of the Judeo-Christian creating entity, i.e. God, and further, that all humans reflect the image of their creator. This concept leads to the concept of natural human Rights, such as the Right To Life, Right To Liberty, Right to Pursue Happiness, which are all artifacts of having respect for individual humans. None of these rights interferes with or imposes upon the rights of other humans. Further it is the anti-classist concept, wherein there is merely one class: humans. And finally, this type of Right To Respect is independent of the behaviors of any individual, or the characteristics or behaviors of any subclass of humans.

Respect is commanded for all humans, and exists at a certain nominal level in our constitutionally driven and protected society, for all humans regardless of class, character or behaviors.

Second, the idea that respect is not a Right, but must be gained through the consistent display of responsible behavior derives also from Judeo-Christian influence in western society. But this concept operates at a different level than the previous concept. This concept operates on a plane where the original human-class Right to Respect is a given, and yet there are individual behaviors now in play. On this plane it is possible, and in fact necessary, to determine whether an individual's behaviors command respect (mass murderer, for example). Also at this level it is possible to determine whether entire classes of individuals command respect (NAZIs; Stalinists, etc). It is perfectly acceptable at this level to apply observations of behaviors to the decision of whether a person or class deserves respect - above and beyond the prior classless fundamental human rights.

And it is even necessary at times for the lack of respect for certain individual's behaviors to wind up in a revocation of the underlying human Rights. For most individuals and classes/groups, there is no conflict between the two concepts, so long as the modifying caveats are included in their definitions.

This complete definition and understanding needs to be brought into the culture war, because it demonstrates the propensity to make false conclusions when using incomplete or even false terminology.

It is not rational to demand respect beyond the fundamental, constitutional natural Human Rights; behaviors do matter and must be considered.

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