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Old 2nd July 2019, 04:58 AM   #1
Pictoresque
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Equal in dignity?

From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 05:23 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.
I rather think it's a statement of an axiom, not a conclusion. Axioms , by definition, can't be proven; they're chosen as a starting point to reach useful conclusions. Also, note that this is a declaration of human rights; it seeks to establish, by declaration, a workable and acceptable set of basic rights, from which just laws may be derived. If it were possible to derive those rights from some other source, the declaration would be redundant.

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Old 2nd July 2019, 06:08 AM   #3
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It’s an ideal, and one that should be universal.
Alas, this is not and has likely never been the case.

We humans find it all too easy to “fear the other” and dehumanize them in various ways.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 06:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.
Look at one baby.

Then look at another.

There's your proof.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 06:47 AM   #5
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First post best post.

/thread
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Old 2nd July 2019, 06:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.
Wow I'm totally convinced. Without a giant invisible wizard daddy in the sky the simple concept that people should be treated equally would never have occurred to me or anyone else in recorded human history.

I'll just quickly confirm this with God.

Okay God says I should kill everyone in that other tribe with the Jawbone of an Ass because they don't cut the tips off their penises the right way. Looks like some wires got crossed.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 07:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.
As already said, it is a declaration, not a physical law.

"Thou shallt not steal" is also a declaration. There is no logical proof for it.

Oh, and I don't think many atheists want proof that god exists. Not if they think about it, anyway: The existence of god is not a falsifiable claim and cannot be proved.

Hans
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Old 2nd July 2019, 07:14 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.
Dave gave a good answer but I'll try my own.

Instead of thinking about "proof", think about falsifiable prediction. What action can you perform that will have a different outcome depending on whether the statement is true or not.

Example:
Suppose someone says: 'There is a car parked in my garage.'
How can you tell if this is true? You just look inside the garage. If it's true you will see a car and otherwise not.
But maybe the car is invisible. Well, you just walk through the garage and either you bump into something or not.
But suppose the car is invisible and unfeelable. Well, maybe we could try to detect heat coming of it? Maybe some other kind of radiation?

Let's look at a different statement: 'This car is mine.'
Is there any way of testing that?
Well, you could just drive off with it. If it is false then we can predict that you will be arrested eventually.
That's an unusual way of looking at it. The law becomes a theory that predicts the behavior of other people. Lawyers may even say that they attempt to predict how judges and juries will decide.
Of course that only works because judges apply the very same rules to "predict" their own decision.

Okay, let's get to the point:
You can use the human rights to predict the behavior of people who believe in them. You can then use this prediction to chose your friends.
You can also use human rights to predict the behavior of governments who enshrine them in law. You can use that prediction to chose what government you want to be ruled by.

What about god?
God can mean a lot of things. The god of the southern babtist church is not the same as the god of the catholic church.
But once it is clear which god we are talking about we can make predictions. In that sense god is just as proven as human rights.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 07:27 AM   #9
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Hey, Pictoresque. Do you think you have the same rights and dignity as anybody else? Or do you think that there are people who have an inborn power to tell you what to do? Can they justly force you to demean yourself before them?

I can't force you to reply (guess I'm not one of those hypothetical Great Ones), but I dare you to.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 07:46 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Wow I'm totally convinced. Without a giant invisible wizard daddy in the sky the simple concept that people should be treated equally would never have occurred to me or anyone else in recorded human history.

I'll just quickly confirm this with God.

Okay God says I should kill everyone in that other tribe with the Jawbone of an Ass because they don't cut the tips off their penises the right way. Looks like some wires got crossed.
It goes a bit deeper.

For a start, look at why the story of Ruth is even there at all. Right. Because originally the whole being one of the chosen people was strictly hereditary, and you weren't supposed to even marry a woman from another tribe. Unless you kindapped her in war and raped her the right way, anyway. But otherwise there was no provision that you could even decide as an adult to mutilate your penis the right way and join the chosen ones. If you were born in the "wrong" tribe, then all God had to say was that they should come enslave your whole town, or kill everyone if you refuse.

But wait, it gets better. Namely, the story of Ham. Yeah, what God actually had to say about the colour of your skin is that if you have too much melanin, you and your kin are just cursed by God and should be slaves.

Yeah, doesn't look like God did all that well on the equality front.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 07:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
“There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings.” — Yuval Noah Harari

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...5cf_story.html
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Old 2nd July 2019, 08:13 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yeah, doesn't look like God did all that well on the equality front.
Well regardless it's always nice when the Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Mormons, Pentecostals, Seventh Day, Anglicans, Jehova's Witnesses, Sunni, Shia, Rabbinic, Second Temple, Vaishivanist, Shavinist, Shaktisms, Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Sikhs can all agree that we need to come together and treat everyone equally.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 09:32 AM   #13
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Burden of proof

Many nice responses, I appreciate it. But what about the burden of proof? I am still not convinced. Do we really now that equality is better than any possible type of inequality? No we dont. We have not tried everything.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 09:41 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Many nice responses, I appreciate it.
Try actually reading them. If you had, you wouldn't be asking,

Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
But what about the burden of proof?
...because it was answered in post 2.

Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
I am still not convinced. Do we really now that equality is better than any possible type of inequality? No we dont. We have not tried everything.
Please suggest a few types of inequality that you personally would be happier to be on the less advantaged side of.

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Old 2nd July 2019, 10:00 AM   #15
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You've identified lack of consistency when analyzing different aspects of belief for a specific group of individuals.

Atheist by definition believe that God doesn't exist. Generally, they also argue that morals/ethics can exist without the existence of the God. To them, these two topics are independent.

For Atheist, when speaking their truth about the existence of God, and the existence of morals/ethics; isn't it necessary for them to apply different epistemologies? That is to say, apply different standards of inquiry and take different paths to coming to a determination on these two beliefs?
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Old 2nd July 2019, 10:42 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Many nice responses, I appreciate it. But what about the burden of proof? I am still not convinced. Do we really now that equality is better than any possible type of inequality? No we dont. We have not tried everything.
I, too, do not have the impression that you read the responses.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 10:46 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.
I don't believe atheists drafted the declaration of human right.

Welcome to the forum!
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Old 2nd July 2019, 10:48 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Many nice responses, I appreciate it. But what about the burden of proof? I am still not convinced. Do we really now that equality is better than any possible type of inequality? No we dont. We have not tried everything.
Burden to whom?
the United nations?
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Old 2nd July 2019, 10:56 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by ServiceSoon View Post
...Atheist by definition believe that God doesn't exist....
Wrong.

Atheists, by definition, do not believe that any gods exist.

A couple of apparently minor changes to your sentence, but remarkably important ones.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 11:04 AM   #20
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Not everything can be an axiom. I cannot use as an axiom that 1+2=4 for example. Even axioms need some kind of justifications.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 11:53 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Many nice responses, I appreciate it. But what about the burden of proof?
So you appreciate, but didn't read the responses? Or didn't you understand them?

Burden of proof belongs in scientific debates. Human rights are cultural values, not science.

Quote:
I am still not convinced.
I have news for you: Very few people apart from yourself care if you're convinced.

Quote:
Do we really now that equality is better than any possible type of inequality? No we dont. We have not tried everything.
No we don't. We assume that it is so. ... But try this: Would you care if you did not have equal dignity?

Hans
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Old 2nd July 2019, 11:57 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Many nice responses, I appreciate it. But what about the burden of proof? I am still not convinced. Do we really now that equality is better than any possible type of inequality? No we dont. We have not tried everything.
You don't seem to understand how the burden of proof works, young padawan.

The one who makes a claim that boils down to "X exists" or "Y happened" (the latter being trivially equivalent to "an instance of Y happening exists") is the one who gets the burden of proof. Basically if someone claims that pigs can fly, essentially they're claming that at least one instance of a pig flying happened/existed, so they're the ones who get to show their evidence. They don't get to demand evidence that all pigs are equally unable to fly.

So, anyway, if you claim something like that where X is some provable inequality or some advantage to inequality, then you get the burden of proof fair and square.

We're all willing to listen if you have good evidence, but you don't get to just reverse the burden of proof instead.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 12:02 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
So you appreciate, but didn't read the responses? Or didn't you understand them?

Burden of proof belongs in scientific debates. Human rights are cultural values, not science.
In all fairness, sociology for example IS a science, being in fact just a sub-discipline of statistics, and anthropology is definitely a science. And in fact when you talk cultural values, those are exactly what anthropology studies.

If someone wants to claim that there is some advantage to arbitrarily excluding a bunch of people from the start from competing for the same jobs and services as everyone else, that is a claim that isn't just philosophical. It trespasses quite overtly onto the turf of those two.

They're quite free to help themselves to the burden of proof.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 12:25 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Not everything can be an axiom. I cannot use as an axiom that 1+2=4 for example. Even axioms need some kind of justifications.
internal consistency and usefulness are the justifications.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 12:50 PM   #25
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What about Jason Brennans idea of epistocracy. This is one example of inequality.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:19 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
In all fairness, sociology for example IS a science, being in fact just a sub-discipline of statistics, and anthropology is definitely a science. And in fact when you talk cultural values, those are exactly what anthropology studies.

If someone wants to claim that there is some advantage to arbitrarily excluding a bunch of people from the start from competing for the same jobs and services as everyone else, that is a claim that isn't just philosophical. It trespasses quite overtly onto the turf of those two.

They're quite free to help themselves to the burden of proof.
Quite. Even in philosophy it is possible to make testable claims. However the statement "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" is no such claim. It is a declaration of an ideal.

Hans
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:28 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
What about Jason Brennans idea of epistocracy. This is one example of inequality.
Do you want to talk about proof for equal dignity and rights?
Or do you want to talk about proof that a government founded on the ideal leads to good outcomes?
Those are quite different questions.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:35 PM   #28
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I'm smelling another "Philosophizer" who thinks "Somebody someone where once said something" means a lot more then it does.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:55 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I'm smelling another "Philosophizer" who thinks "Somebody someone where once said something" means a lot more then it does.
Quite.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 01:57 PM   #30
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We* haven't tried everthing in ways of organizing a society? What? I think our o.p. needs to study more history, and also more anthropology.

* Who's the "we" here, come to that.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 02:04 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
What about Jason Brennans idea of epistocracy. This is one example of inequality.
It's also the dumbest possible example if you want to argue for some kind of indequality where it's relevant to what family you're BORN. Because quite frankly, EVERYONE is born uninformed AND unqualified to vote for the next 18 years or so.

Plus, it sounds like something trivial to exploit. E.g., if I were the dictator of Bumscrewistan, I could quite trivially make sure that the only ones qualified to vote are those who memorized every last bit of trivia of my party manifesto, and are well informed in such facts as that my opponent is sacrificing babies to Satan and drinking human blood. Hell, I could even make the stuff that qualifies you as informed enough to vote be something that I only told my inner circle.
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Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
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Old 2nd July 2019, 02:19 PM   #32
Pope130
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity....snip..."
Can we all at least agree to give the UN credit for borrowing from Shakespeare?
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Old 2nd July 2019, 02:41 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
From the declaration of human rights:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Many atheists wants proof that there is a God. But what is the proof that we are born equal in dignity and rights?
For me it seems like there are no logically valid proofs.

I sense there is some sort of argument in favour of God's existence lurking here. Come on Pictoresque out with it, the suspense is killing me.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 02:45 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
It's also the dumbest possible example if you want to argue for some kind of indequality where it's relevant to what family you're BORN. Because quite frankly, EVERYONE is born uninformed AND unqualified to vote for the next 18 years or so.

Plus, it sounds like something trivial to exploit. E.g., if I were the dictator of Bumscrewistan, I could quite trivially make sure that the only ones qualified to vote are those who memorized every last bit of trivia of my party manifesto, and are well informed in such facts as that my opponent is sacrificing babies to Satan and drinking human blood. Hell, I could even make the stuff that qualifies you as informed enough to vote be something that I only told my inner circle.
Yes. Before the voting rights act, certain of the USA used tailored knowledge tests to keep ethnic minority from voting.

We shouldn't forget, though, that democracies have meritocratic elements in the form of a professional civil service and judiciary. Unlike apartheid, that is not incompatible with equality at birth.
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Old 2nd July 2019, 08:22 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Not everything can be an axiom. I cannot use as an axiom that 1+2=4 for example. Even axioms need some kind of justifications.
That's why mathematicians like Peano distilled mathematics down to all of their most basic assumptions. 1+2=4 is not one of those basic assumptions - it has to be derived from more basic assumptions.

Peano's axioms start with:
  • 0 is a natural number.
  • A natural number is always equal to itself.
  • If one natural number is equal to a second natural number, then the second is also equal to the first.
  • If one natural number is equal to a second natural number, and the second natural number is equal to a third, then the third is equal to the first.
  • If a number is equal to a natural number, then it is also a natural number.

You can see that we're at a fundamentally more basic level than "1+2=4". We haven't even defined any natural numbers other than zero yet. But don't worry, Peano goes on:
  • For every natural number, the arithmetic successor of that number is also a natural number.
  • If two natural numbers are equal to each other, the successors of those numbers are also equal to each other.
  • Zero is not the successor to any natural number.

This is just a starting point - it goes on.

Now, if you deny one of Peano's axioms, by saying (for example) that one natural number being equal to the second does not mean that the second is equal to the first, then the very definition of mathematics breaks down and is meaningless. If x=y does not mean that y=x, no meaningful mathematical calculations can reasonably be performed.

The analogy to mathematics is not perfect, but you started it so I'll take it to its logical conclusion. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights attempts to be a foundation for human rights in the same way that Peano attempts to be a foundation for mathematics. You can't prove that x=y means that y=x, and it is equally meaningless to demand proof that human beings are fundamentally equal in rights and dignity. But if you deny that axiom, you have no basis for any moral philosophy regarding human rights at all. Once you accept that all people are not equal, you cannot reasonably form any moral calculations of any value. In fact, humanity's greatest moral atrocities have come because people have denied exactly that.

Cue Godwin. Hitler and the Nazis believed that Jews, Romani, and homosexuals, among others, were fundamentally inferior to Aryans. Result: World War 2 and the Holocaust.

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Old 2nd July 2019, 11:50 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Not everything can be an axiom. I cannot use as an axiom that 1+2=4 for example. Even axioms need some kind of justifications.
You can use 1+2=4 as an axiom if you please, there are no stone tablets about this.

You are very unlikely to build a useful system on such axioms of course. I guess this is what is behind moral axioms like Kant's universalising axiom.

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Old 3rd July 2019, 12:00 AM   #37
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So if we cannot prove that we have equal dignity, how do we now it is true, how de we know that the axiom is correct? It is based on faith, right? On feelings.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 12:04 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
So if we cannot prove that we have equal dignity, how do we now it is true, how de we know that the axiom is correct? It is based on faith, right? On feelings.
Is "zero is not the successor of any natural number" based on faith or feelings?

It is not. It forms part of the distillation of everything else in mathematics to its most fundamental core. Similarly, "all humans are equal in dignity" forms part of the distillation of everything else in moral philosophy to its most fundamental core. It's not faith, or feelings, it's the basis we build our morality upon.
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Old 3rd July 2019, 01:18 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
So if we cannot prove that we have equal dignity, how do we now it is true, how de we know that the axiom is correct? It is based on faith, right? On feelings.
No. It's based on consequences. If the system we build based on a given set of axioms is useful, we retain it. If it isn't, we discard it. So far the UDHR appears to be one of the foundations of a useful system, so we retain it. If something better comes along, maybe we'll switch to that. What would you suggest as something better? Has it been tried, and how did it work out?

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Old 3rd July 2019, 02:00 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Pictoresque View Post
Many nice responses, I appreciate it. But what about the burden of proof? I am still not convinced. Do we really now that equality is better than any possible type of inequality? No we dont. We have not tried everything.
Someone mentioned an axiom to say that equality between all men and women is not demonstrable. This is a common feature of axioms and moral principles.
Equal rights are not like an axiom because they are not part of a deductive system. Nor is it a scientific law because It does not say what is happening, nor is it part of any inductive logic. It is a principle of justice and morality that indicates what should be. Not what it is.

Maybe you are asking how is it justified or why it should be that all men and women are equal before the law or must be respected equally. Is that what you are asking for? Are you asking if equality is a principle (like an axiom) or an inferred consequence (like a law)?
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