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Human Rights in the Context of Cultural Evolution

TVRDÍKOVÁ, L.: Human Rights in the Context of Cultural Evolution. Právny obzor, 106, 2023, special issue, pp. 3-20.

Human Rights in the Context of Cultural Evolution. The main aim of this paper is to present a naturalistic theory of human rights which emphasises that while human rights can be seen as basic moral requirements, they are nonetheless society-dependent, meaning that they are intrinsically connected to individual societies and their evolution. The first part of this paper deals with the starting point of this approach, offering a definition of this form of naturalization. However, I would like to stress here that I am not suggesting that the entire issue can be reduced to the level of physical or chemical properties and laws. As Peregrin has noted, the human capacity for language means that we are also discursive beings who can build and live in fantastic worlds of our own making, and therefore we are not restricted to living in the natural world as such, in the realm of nature where natural laws, such as the rules of physics or chemistry, are dominant. The world in which we live and which we ourselves build is also normative, existing within the realm of freedom; other rules apply here, and our freedom lies in the fact that we can choose to either obey or disobey them. It is this capacity that differentiates us from other organisms and indicates that Darwinian evolution is not the only evolutionary process that has played a crucial role in our evolution, with some philosophers and scientists terming this cognitively driven process of development as cultural evolution. As a result, the following section will be devoted to the relevance of the concept of cultural evolution for academics who work in the field of social science, law and jurisprudence given the fact that this theory examines rules and their role and function in society. In this section we will focus on the evolution of morality because, as we will see, human rights can be seen as basic moral requirements which are essential for global cooperation.

Keywords: naturalism, morality, cultural evolution, human rights, cooperation

This article aims to provide a more naturalistic account of the theory of human rights, from which it will be clear that even human rights, in as far as we can speak of them as basic moral requirements, are dependent on individual societies and their development, since morality itself is dependent on society and the individuals living within it. Human rights are not a matter of adhering to norms handed down to us by divine powers or by some other superior being or non-being. This approach thus has the advantage that there is no need to invoke supernatural entities or to look for the origins of human rights somewhere beyond the world and the society in which we live, because the sole source of normativity is found in society itself.
This text provides a descriptive theory of human rights within the context of cultural evolution in order to clarify their function and importance. The account offered here is therefore not a justificatory theory, but rather an explicative one. Within this text, the concept of cultural evolution will be presented and applied to the issue of human rights.
The first section serves as the starting point of this text and defines the concept and basic precepts of the more naturalistic theory. This approach is not intended to suggest that everything can be reduced to physical and chemical laws. As we will demonstrate, man is a discursive being, and this is because we have a language through which we create, in Peregrin's words, a fantastic world in which we live where we are not subject to the limitations of the natural world in which everything is governed by natural laws; instead, we inhabit a world of freedom - a normative world of rules in which we are free to choose whether or not to follow them.
As complex organisms that create a normative space within which we live
, humans differ from other organisms, and it is our unique capacity of normative thinking which has allowed cultural evolution to play a role in our development in addition to Darwinian evolution.
In the next section, we will address the concept of cultural evolution itself, an issue which is of interest not only to cognitive scientists and philosophers but also to social scientists and legal scholars, as it deals with, among other topics, the evolution of society and the role of norms within it. This section will also focus on the development of morality, since human rights can be seen as basic moral requirements. This is followed by a discussion Tomasello's theory of the origin and development of morality. Here, too, there is no need to invoke the eternal and immutable, a supernatural element; it is instead sufficient to understand that we are organisms which exist as a part of society and of our environment which we share with other human beings, but at the same time we ourselves can change and co-create this environment.
These theories will be applied within the specific context of human rights, with the conclusion of the text demonstrating that the idea of universal human rights can be seen as the next stage of cultural evolution.
Discussions of the nature of human rights often refer to them as being intuitive.
Within the framework of evolution and cultural evolution, a moral sense has been "shaped" within us, and this allows us to unconsciously recognize another human being as an equal, as one of "us". As we will see, however, this feeling is always formed within a reference group. Human rights, then, can be seen as basic moral requirements that are intended to be universal in character, thereby enabling the creation of a global "we", a conception which supersedes the earlier idea of "we" as comprising a single nation or culture which is differentiated from others from a different culture or practising different customs. of course, moral norms themselves are the result of a process of cultural evolution
, with their origins lying within a specific societal context.
The concept of cooperation plays an important role in evolution and cultural evolution and is therefore worthy of further examination. As will become apparent, cooperation between humans was more profitable for the long-term viability of our species. This cooperation originally emerged within smaller groups, but as human communities gradually grew in size, it became more important for members of each group to follow rules in order that they be considered by the other members to be "one of us"; this arrangement also gives rise to the dichotomy between "us" and "the others"
. Human rights have the potential to form one common "we", and the era of human rights can perhaps be seen as the next phase of cultural evolution, in which norms emerge that unite humanity as a cohesive, single society.
2 Starting Point
The basic premise of this text is that humans are a part of the world in which we live.
However, this world is not immediately granted to us; rather than merely passively perceiving it, "
we humans build fantastic virtual worlds in which we are able to live: states, churches, universities, order of knighthood, criminal gangs, gardening clubs... All such virtual worlds are largely a matter of make-believe, they stand and fall with people taking them to stand or fall"
Peregrin's thinking is broadly in line with the idea of this article, but it is important to understand that these worlds are not independent of we humans as organisms, nor do we exist independently from the surrounding environment of the world we live in.
This relationship of interconnectedness is emphasized by, among others, Rouse, whose thinking draws not only upon philosophical theories but also the work of cognitive scientists such as Clark, Thompson, Chemer, Shapiro and others. Rouse argues that as we begin "
understanding the close intertwining of organisms' sensory systems with their repertoires for behavioral and physiological responsiveness shows how organisms are closely coupled with their environments. An organism's biological environment does not consist of objectively independent features of its physical surroundings. Biological environments are bounded and configured as the settings to which organisms´ ongoing way of life is responsive"
organisms do not respond to all of the stimuli that occur in their environment, instead perceiving only selective environments that depend upon what the organism considers to be important to itself and its way of life.
This exclusive focus on environments relevant to their own needs and interests alone has led Akins to refers to sensory systems as "narcissistic" phenomena.
Indeed, this form of "narcissism" has also been noted by many philosophers and cognitive scientists. Bratman has drawn attention to the importance of, arguing that because we pursue goals, we are also actors who make plans, always in relation to some of our goals.
okrent discusses organic teleology, in which the highest goal pursued by organisms is their self-preservation; in order to achieve this goal, they interact with their environment and perceive the phenomena they encounter as either furthering their interests or as posing a potential risk. Based on this approach, organisms attach meaning to objects in their environment which are defined in relation to the meanings of other things that surround the organism.
The world of the organism is not a collection of independent things. It is a context of significance, where that significance is relative to the organic interest and ends of the organism".
This type of goal-directedness therefore determines how organisms respond to stimuli and phenomena that are relevant to their lives and that are, or become, part of their biological environment.
Other human beings with whom we interact on a daily basis are an intrinsic part of our environment.
In the course of evolution and cultural evolution, humans have developed mechanisms that enable us to regard other members of our society as equal partners. In the following section, we will examine how this we came to regard other human beings as "human" or as "partners". Humans differ from other organisms through their capacity for language, and this ability grants them a conceptual understanding; rather than reacting instrumentally to their environment, they can also adopt a "take as" approach to the phenomena they encounter.
In Searlean terminology, then, we can say that "human" is a status function to which deontic forces such as rights and obligations are linked.
As we will see, this interpretation suggests that human rights form the cornerstones of our society. one interesting aspect of human rights is the fact that, unlike other rights, they apply to everyone.
We are all entitled to demand that other people respect our human rights, but we ourselves are also obliged to respect the human rights of others.
Because language is an integral part of human nature, we are discursive beings
who can create virtual spaces through our discourse.
However, this is not to say that these spaces are not real
; while they may not necessarily follow the laws of nature, other rules apply that are perhaps more important, a consequence of our conceptual understanding
does not merely attempt to grasp some type of static, holistic structure
but is an active searching, decision-making and corresponding reactions to more or less diverse social practices,
reflecting the common way of life shared by individuals which we term human society.
As we know, the formulation of the universal Declaration of Human Rights was a response to social practices, specifically the horrors of World War II. These atrocities were marked by a disregard for the fact that we are all part of a single human society; with this contempt for human rights
leading to barbaric acts that grossly offended the collective human conscience.
This conception of man presented above shows that mankind is a part of the natural world; he is aware of his interactions with the environment, understanding too that other humans and their activities can also shape this environment.
This assertion forms the basic starting point of this text, and this is why I have labelled the theory described in this article as more naturalistic. The main aim is to present a theory that does not appeal to supernatural origins or metaphysical foundations, but which reflects instead the latest scientific and philosophical findings and theories
which, taken as a whole, can offer a comprehensible explanation of the importance of human rights in fostering a basic space in which we can work together and live in peace. I intend here to justify the existence of human rights while adhering to the fundamental aim of science; the search for theories that are able to provide explanations and understandings of the world without the need to resort to the obscure or the supernatural. If we wish to justify the existence of human rights, we should not focus on their orig
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