Human Rights- Cultural Values

Lief M. Hendrickson (hendrick@NOSC.MIL)
Wed, 28 Dec 1994 23:04:24 PST

Your posting welcomes any "additional" (?) constructive comments
which probably means you want concurrence only- as you apparently
expect from other cultures relative to your philosophy. You
address more than human rights. On the one hand is a defense for
self-determinism of a culture. On the other is an imposition of
a philosophy of human rights. You say the comments should not be
seen as a "desire to impose or inject" your values, but there
doesn't seem to be much room for anything else. I'm not against
decent treatment of all individuals, but who makes the rules- you
or the hierarchy within the various cultures?

Regarding whether "any group can be ethically held responsible
for the actions of its members", it depends on what you mean by
ethics. In the case of your example of the Nuremburg trials, it
wouldn't do much good to put the group on trial since " the
group" was dead at that point (i.e. had been defeated by the war-
a different type of "trial"!). What do you mean by group ethics
anyway? If we're discussing accountability of a group, there's
plenty of basis for action directed at a group. Consider legal
action against a corporation (a group) vs. against its
stockholders (individuals). A church (a group) can even be sued.

An example of "ritual killing" is given in your posting. Is
there some other point here other than killing is bad- and that
it reflects on the quality of these cultures? On this measuring
stick, our culture isn't doin so great- seems to be a lot of
killin goin on lately. Beatings and robbery too! Of course,
"this is not to say that these customs are generally condoned by
the greater societies involved" (to borrow your words). If you
insist on issuing value judgments on other cultures, I suggest
more attention to how to define values. And consider that
there's more to looking at other cultures than whether they
measure up to certain values.