Creation of Human Rights by Their Declaration

The article develops social-constructivist notion of human rights via criticism of S. Holovaty’s naturalistic interpretation. The article starts by showing the basic statements of naturalistic notion of human rights. These are emanation of human rights from human nature and dignity, timeless essence of human rights, their unchangeable list etc. This drives us to conclusion that under naturalistic point of view human rights originated more than 40.000 years ago when the first Cro-Magnon man appeared. Moreover, naturalistic interpretation of human rights also appears to be static, i.e. it claims that human rights can never be changed – nether widened, nor narrowed. All these assumptions appear counterintuitive because of the initial drawback of
naturalistic human rights theory – rejection social impact on human rights. Then the author addresses the notion of status-functions, developed by English philosopher J. Searle. Searle claims that Prior to the European Enlightenment the concept of rights had application only within some institutional structure-property rights, marital rights, droit de seigneur, etc. But somehow the idea came to be collectively accepted that one might have a statusfunction solely by virtue of being a human being, that the X term was «human» and the Y term was «possessor of inalienable rights». It is no accident – Searle claims – that the collective acceptance of this move was aided by the idea of divine authority: «they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness». The idea of human rights has survived the decline of religious belief, and has even become internationalized. The main idea is that human right do not naturally emanate from neither force, be it dignity or Space (as S. Holovatyy argues). Creation of human rights is the result of collective intentionality in action. We ascribe a status-function to facts and persons, creating this way a new institutionalized reality – the reality of human rights. This reality gives rise to deontic powers – rights, duties and obligations. Possessing human rights has actually nothing to do with human nature and dignity alone. Something more powerful must me engaged here to give these nature and dignity an effect. And this is collective intentionality that creates human rights by declaration of new status-function of a person – bearer of inalienable rights and freedoms.