Rights and Duties

Current human rights philosophy maintains that personal prerogative defines social structure, and individuals can refuse any moral ties that they haven’t chosen. Institutions are seen as necessary insofar as they interface common interests of atomistic individuals; they simply provide procedures of interaction. Unless individuals chooses to bind themselves morally with others, this connection doesn’t exist; and rights are guaranteed independent of duty – rights, in fact, are used to protect one from collective interests.

Right, however, corresponds with duty. The duties that are connected to human rights derive from an individual’s two-fold purpose: personal development and contribution to society. The first duty of an individual is to recognize the spiritual forces in reality, respond to them, and manifest latent spiritual capacities. The right and freedom of belief and investigation of truth, for example, is created in order that one can fulfill this duty. The second duty is the advancement of civilization. As one moderates personal liberty with promotion of collective good, one shapes society in a way that facilitates far greater and truer freedom for every individual than the initial sacrifice required, thus tying individual and collective well-being together. Institutions and structures can be seen to aid in the formation of this balance.

The basis for human rights is the reciprocal relationship between individual duty and collective prosperity, as well as the duty of an individual to develop spiritual capacities. Justice can be seen as a moral and spiritual capacity, gradually developed, that binds the individual with the well-being of the community – knowing, obviously, that as the individual is a member of the whole, the well-being of all is the well-being of one.