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Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True?

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Abstract

The problem I am going to discuss seems at first glance to belong to logic, semantics, or the philosophy of language. A basic course in logic for lawyers will describe the distinction of three major types of utterances: descriptive (declarative statements), such as “an apple is red”; evaluative (evaluations, axiological statements, value judgments), such as “an apple is good”; and prescriptive utterances (norms, orders), such as “people should eat apples”, or “eat an apple!”. Most Polish lawyers as students have probably come across the following words from Zygmunt Ziembiński’s Practical Logic: “An utterance is true or false only if it describes some state of matter or some event in agreement with or contrary to reality. If an utterance does not describe anything, but expresses only somebody’s evaluation, we cannot assert that it is either true or false” (Ziembiński 1976, 123).1 An evaluation is then characterized as an emotional attitude (of approving or disapproving) toward a particular state of affairs. Of course, according to Ziembiñski, prescriptive utterances also may be neither true nor false. I am interested primarily in legal norms, which are an instance of norms of conduct. Ziembiñski characterizes a norm of conduct as “a pronouncement which orders (or forbids) somebody directly to behave so and so under definite circumstances” (ibid., 126). He argues that “the utterance ‘x should do C’ does not in itself state that it is so and so, or that it is not so and so, hence it cannot be either false or true” (ibid., 126). The above statements seem to be nothing more then basic clarifications belonging to logic. We tend to think that there is nothing less ideological or more morally neutral than logic. How wrong we are! When the above solutions are applied to morality—moral evaluations and moral norms—then the most fundamental metaethical dispute has already been solved: I mean the dispute between cognitivism and noncognitivism. Cognitivism is generally characterized as “the claim that moral attitudes are cognitive states rather than noncognitive ones” (Dancy 1998, point 1). In this paper, I accept quite a “strong” version of cognitivism. By cognitivism I understand the claim that there are moral evaluations which are a result of cognition, and therefore they are judgments and they inform us about a certain reality, about certain states of affairs; consequently there are moral evaluations which can be true or false—accordingly there are also evaluative utterances which can be true or false. Noncognitivists deny that there are moral evaluations which result from cognition; such evaluations for them never inform us about reality, and cannot be true or false. Ziembiński’s position is a typical noncognitivist one, called emotivism. This view dominates in the contemporary education of lawyers in Poland, and it is taken for granted as an obvious statement in the field of logic or semantics that descriptive utterances can be true or false, while evaluative or prescriptive ones cannot. I am going to challenge this view. Moreover, I accept a “strong” concept of truth based on a correspondence theory of truth. According to this theory, “every truth bearer: proposition, sentence, belief, and so on, is correlated to a possible fact. If the possible fact to which a given truth bearer is correlated actually obtains, the truth bearer is true; otherwise is false” (Kirkham 1998, point 1). In the traditions to which this theory refers, the main idea was expressed as a definition: “veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus” (truth is an adequacy between a thing and an intellect). The major problem in defending a view that a given evaluation or norm is true or false is indicating the fact to which this evaluation or norm is supposed to be correlated—a state of affairs that this evaluation is about. The simplest solution is to recognize that evaluations are about values which objectively exist (are valid), and are pure intellectual entities (like Plato’s ideas), which we can get to know about by a special kind of intuition. Validity or normativity is something given, and it is a fundamental property of these entities. A similar position can be outlined for norms—we accept that there is an objective correlate of norms which has a structure analogous to the norms and contains normativity as such. I do not share such convictions, especially because I have difficulties with the supposed intuition, and because of problems with the intersubjective discourse on values and norms, understood as specific entities. I have never had an intuition of the type required, but I am nonetheless convinced that there are evaluations, and even norms, which can be true or false in the strong sense. So I am looking for a more modest ontology. The first step is to give up the claim that the validity or normativity which is found in our mental states (or in their linguistic expression) has an objective correlate (similarly, recognizing generality as a property of concepts does not require recognizing the existence of objective entities of a general character, as Plato did, arguing for the existence of the world of ideas). It would be enough to indicate certain existing structures (relations), on which validity or normativity is based.
MAREK PIECHOWIAK
Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True?
On the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1. Introduction—can logic be ethics?
The problem I am going to discuss seems at first glance to belong to logic, se-
mantics, or the philosophy of language. A basic course in logic for lawyers
will describe the distinction of three major types of utterances: descriptive
(declarative statements), such as “an apple is red”; evaluative (evaluations,
axiological statements, value judgments), such as “an apple is good”; and
prescriptive utterances (norms, orders), such as “people should eat apples”, or
“eat an apple!”. Most Polish lawyers as students have probably come across
the following words from Zygmunt Ziembiñski’s Practical Logic: “An utter-
ance is true or false only if it describes some state of matter or some event in
agreement with or contrary to reality. If an utterance does not describe any-
thing, but expresses only somebody’s evaluation, we cannot assert that it is
either true or false” (Ziembiñski 1976, 123).1An evaluation is then charac-
terized as an emotional attitude (of approving or disapproving) toward a par-
ticular state of affairs.2
Of course, according to Ziembiñski, prescriptive utterances also may be
neither true nor false. I am interested primarily in legal norms, which are an
instance of norms of conduct. Ziembiñski characterizes a norm of conduct as
“a pronouncement which orders (or forbids) somebody directly to behave so
71
1The Polish version of this manual, Logika praktyczna, has appeared in 26 editions, from the
earliest in 1956, to the recent edition of 2007.
2“Some utterances formulated by us express not only our conviction that it is so and so, or
that it is not so and so, but they can at the same time express our evaluation, that is to say our
emotional attitude to this particular stat of affairs” (Ziembiñski 1976, 122).
and so under definite circumstances” (ibid., 126). He argues that “the utter-
ance ‘xshould do C’ does not in itself state that it is so and so, or that it is not
so and so, hence it cannot be either false or true” (ibid., 126).
The above statements seem to be nothing more then basic clarifications
belonging to logic. We tend to think that there is nothing less ideological or
more morally neutral than logic. How wrong we are! When the above solu-
tions are applied to morality—moral evaluations and moral norms—then
the most fundamental metaethical dispute has already been solved: I mean
the dispute between cognitivism and noncognitivism.
Cognitivism is generally characterized as “the claim that moral attitudes
are cognitive states rather than noncognitive ones” (Dancy 1998, point 1). In
this paper, I accept quite a “strong” version of cognitivism. By cognitivism I
understand the claim that there are moral evaluations which are a result of
cognition, and therefore they are judgments and they inform us about a cer-
tain reality, about certain states of affairs; consequently there are moral eval-
uations which can be true or false—accordingly there are also evaluative ut-
terances which can be true or false. Noncognitivists deny that there are moral
evaluations which result from cognition; such evaluations for them never in-
form us about reality, and cannot be true or false.
Ziembiñski’s position is a typical noncognitivist one, called emotivism.
This view dominates in the contemporary education of lawyers in Poland,
and it is taken for granted as an obvious statement in the field of logic or se-
mantics that descriptive utterances can be true or false, while evaluative or
prescriptive ones cannot.
I am going to challenge this view. Moreover, I accept a “strong” concept of
truth based on a correspondence theory of truth. According to this theory,
“every truth bearer: proposition, sentence, belief, and so on, is correlated to a
possible fact. If the possible fact to which a given truth bearer is correlated
actually obtains, the truth bearer is true; otherwise is false” (Kirkham 1998,
point 1). In the traditions to which this theory refers, the main idea was ex-
pressed as a definition: “veritas est adaequatio rei et intellectus” (truth is an
adequacy between a thing and an intellect).
The major problem in defending a view that a given evaluation or norm is
true or false is indicating the fact to which this evaluation or norm is sup-
posed to be correlated—a state of affairs that this evaluation is about. The
simplest solution is to recognize that evaluations are about values which ob-
jectively exist (are valid), and are pure intellectual entities (like Plato’s ideas),
which we can get to know about by a special kind of intuition. Validity or
normativity is something given, and it is a fundamental property of these en-
72 MAREK PIECHOWIAK
tities. A similar position can be outlined for norms—we accept that there is
an objective correlate of norms which has a structure analogous to the norms
and contains normativity as such. I do not share such convictions, especially
because I have difficulties with the supposed intuition, and because of prob-
lems with the intersubjective discourse on values and norms, understood as
specific entities. I have never had an intuition of the type required, but I am
nonetheless convinced that there are evaluations, and even norms, which can
be true or false in the strong sense. So I am looking for a more modest ontol-
ogy. The first step is to give up the claim that the validity or normativity
which is found in our mental states (or in their linguistic expression) has an
objective correlate (similarly, recognizing generality as a property of concepts
does not require recognizing the existence of objective entities of a general
character, as Plato did, arguing for the existence of the world of ideas). It
would be enough to indicate certain existing structures (relations), on which
validity or normativity is based.
2. Human rights as an object of human rights law
I am going to base my considerations on evaluations and norms which pre-
tend to be true independently from positive law but are in fact related to it.
Such evaluations and norms are to be found in the domain of human rights
and their legal protections. I am going to take seriously what the legal acts re-
lated to human rights state about the rights that are protected by them, and I
aim to identify the basic elements of the ontology which allows us to explain
the major features accepted in the legal protection of human rights. Human
rights law seems to be a promising point of reference, because such rights are
recognised by the very legal systems themselves as universal, inherent, inalie-
nable, primary to the legal order, derived from the inherent dignity of human
beings, and as rights which are not created by positive law, and should be pro-
tected by law; so that a clear distinction appears between human rights and
human rights protection in positive law (cf. Piechowiak 1999, 110–124).
I am not discussing these features critically from a point of view external
to the legal order. The very framework of my consideration is shaped by law,
and is essentially internal to it; in other words, I am proceeding from law
through ontology to objective reality, rather than from objective reality
through ontology to law.
Taking into account the above listed features of human rights, we have to
accept that they are something objective, given, “rooted” in the human being
Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True? Some Introductory Remarks 73
(the inherent dignity of the human being). Consequently, the evaluations and
legal norms which can be identified in the legal protection of human rights
can be considered as truth bearers referred to human rights themselves, as in-
dependent and primary to the legal order.
A crucial question is, what are human rights? What are we talking about
when we are talking about human rights? I would like to consider this ques-
tion, starting from some analyses of the normative structure underlying hu-
man rights as subjective rights.
3. Evaluation in a basic structure of human rights as subjective rights
Let us take a simple example—the right to life. According to article 6, para.
1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), “Every hu-
man being has the inherent right to life.”
What does this formula say about reality? First of all it states a relation
between each human being and life. We can say that the life of a human be-
ing is a certain state of affairs which is of such special importance to the per-
son, that it is due to the person. From a linguistic point of view, the formula
analysed is not a norm of conduct in the strict sense. We are talking about
a relation, let’s call it the relation D, the relation of being due, between a sub-
ject pand a certain state of affairs A1. Of course there are many such states of
affairs, A1,. . . , Ak,...,An, which can be the terms of a relation of being due
to p. I understand Akas a state of affairs in the broadest sense (possibly a nat-
ural object, an action, or also the absence of an object or an action).
What is the foundation of the relation D? Among theories of human
rights, there are two major approaches. The choice theory claims that if p
has a right to Ak, then Akis at the disposal of p, and by exercising a right,
what is decisive is the choice made by p, that, for example, pwishes Ak.
But referring to human rights law, which without any doubts sometimes
talks about something due independently of choices (e.g., the right to edu-
cation, or freedom from slavery) one has to accept the so-called benefit the-
ory. According to this theory, human rights protects the basic goods of
a human being, where a “good” is understood as something beneficial,
something needed independently of choices, and which is necessary for
well-being. Being an object of a right, Akis a certain kind of good for p. In
other words, objects of rights constitute a subset of the set of goods. An ut-
terance “Akis a right of p”, includes an evaluation stating that Akis a cer-
tain kind of good for p.
74 MAREK PIECHOWIAK
In searching for an ontological foundation of good, and consequently of
evaluations, let me revoke the classic attempt made by Aristotle in his the-
ory of the “golden mean”. An idea of being “proper”, of “fitting” some-
thing, was central to Aristotle’s concept of virtue, which was understood as
the fundamental perfection, or fundamental good of a human being. Vir-
tue seeks the mean, which is relative to us, and which is characterized as
follows:
In everything continuous and divisible we can take more, less and equal, and each of them
either in the object itself or relative to us; and the equal is some intermediate between excess
and deficiency.
By the intermediate in the object I mean what is equidistant from each extremity; this
is one and the same for everyone. But relative to us the intermediate is what is neither su-
perfluous nor deficient; this is not one, and is not the same for everyone.
If, e.g., ten are many and two are few, we take six as intermediate in the object, since
it exceeds [two]and is exceeded [by ten]by an equal amount, [four]; this is what is inter-
mediate by numerical proportion. But that is not how we must take the intermediate that
is relative to us. For if, e.g., ten pounds [of food]are a lot for someone to eat, and two
pounds a little, it does not follow that the trainer will prescribe six, since this might also
be either a little or a lot for the person who is to take it—for Milo [the athlete]a little,
but for the beginner in gymnastics a lot; and the same is true for running and wrestling.
In this way every scientific expert avoids excess and deficiency and seeks and chooses what
is intermediate—but intermediate relative to us, not in the object (Aristotle 1985,
1106a).
“The mean”, which is nothing else but a good for a given subject, is some-
thing beneficial and proper, which allows the development of certain abili-
ties. The relation of congruence between the things and the person is what is
constitutive for being good.
In this approach to ethics, and to practical philosophy in general, a good
is by nature relational. One cannot talk about a good as such, but only
about a good for someone. Without this relation there is simply no good. The
state of affairs Akis good for p, if and only if there is a congruence Cbetween
Akand p.An identified element of the ontological structure of a right can be
represented in the following way:
Akp
However this approach, though relational, is not a relativistic one. The re-
lation of congruence mentioned is something objective, something given
that can be grasped cognitively.
Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True? Some Introductory Remarks 75
If we accept the benefit theory, there is no problem in ascribing a value of
truth to evaluations, even within the framework of a noncognitivist theory,
such as Ziembiñski’s.
4. Instrumental evaluations
Let me again refer to Practical logic:
Of course, when we say that utterances that are exclusively evaluative cannot be either true
or false, we have in mind the so-called basic evaluations, not the instrumental ones. The
later are really statements about the usefulness or effectiveness of something as a means to a
certain goal according to the knowledge we have concerning causal nexuses (Ziembiñski
1976, 123–124).
One of Ziembiñski’s examples of instrumental evaluations is as follows:
We often use a word which normally express our approval or disapproval of some object for
the purpose of stating that the object corresponds to a certain characteristic, that it possesses
definite properties. So, we would say, for example, “This is a good key, that is a bad key”,
having in mind that the former key fits some definite lock, while the latter key does not fit
it. “A good key” is an expression corresponding to the properties of a key fitting some lock,
though the same “good key” is a “bad key” for another lock. “Good” especially, may be
equivalent to “adopted as a means to attain a wished goal” (instrumental evaluation).
It is striking how close to classical tradition are the above characteristics of
the foundations of instrumental evaluations. We can observe that instrumen-
tal valuations can be true, even when the object of evaluation does not actu-
ally exist. We may meaningfully characterize “a good key” before we get it—
before it is produced. The reality to which an instrumental evaluation refers,
from ontological point of view, is a relation of congruence between a subject
and an object. This relation of congruence can be characterized as relation of
“fitting”, “being proper”, and the like—in the field of human rights we can
talk about being beneficial.
76 MAREK PIECHOWIAK
5. Why is Agood for p?
What is constitutive for a relation of congruence between a subject pand
state of affairs A? Have we already escaped from basic evaluations, and is our
problem solved in favour of ascribing true values to evaluations underlying
human rights? Of course not.
We have to ask why Akis beneficial for p—what does it mean to say this?
We have to ask about the aim to be achieved with Ak. We evaluate as positive
certain states of affairs that we are striving for. If we are weak because of poor
nutrition, we need food to achieve better health. Following this example, Ak
is good, is beneficial, for a subject p, because it is capable of transforming a
certain aspect of p, an aspect in which a subject pis (or can be) deprived of
something—let’s call it a1-—into a state of balance, a1=. The state a1-,like
a1=, may be an actual or possible state. So we have another relation, the rela-
tion of a1- being ordered, or directed, to a1=, and we can call this relation Oa1.
The subject pcomprises many aspects a, such as a1, . . . , ak, . . . , an, and the
relations of ak- to ak=.
We have to modify the previous schema, obtaining:
a1=
A1a1-
When we take into account the idea of dignity being the source of all hu-
man rights of a particular subject, and that “all human rights are universal,
indivisible and interdependent and interrelated”, and that “the international
community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on
the same footing, and with the same emphasis” (Vienna declaration 1993,
I.5)—it then is possible to transform an evaluation of ak= into an instrumen-
tal one. A given ak= is a means to achieve the general well-being or flourish-
ing of a human being. Using the language of classical tradition, akcontrib-
utes to happiness of p. There is a certain state of the subject pas a whole,
which is evaluated positively. Let’s represent this state as pw, and call it “p’s
well-being”. Knowing that something is beneficial for someone, we presup-
pose something about well-being. Now we can enrich the schema:
Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True? Some Introductory Remarks 77
pw
/ \
a1= ak=
A1 —Ak
a1- ak-
What can be said about pw? Is it really based on a basic evaluation3of
a certain possible state of affairs? First we should notice that pwcorrelates to
a certain state of the subject p, a state of not well-being—let’s call it p-w,
p-not-well”. We can say that ak= is valued positively because of the relation
of p-w being ordered to pw, because ak= is capable of transforming, or rather
contributing to the transformation of p-w into pw. So we need a further exten-
sion of our schema:
p-w ®pw
/ \
a1= ak=
A1 Ak
a1- ak-
It can be seen that pitself has somehow vanished from our schema, and
not without reason. A very important question arises: is the subject pequal to
p-w, or to pw?
One possibility is that pequals p-w or pw. In this case, consequently, the re-
lation Opis something external, added to p(e.g., by certain paradigms pre-
sent in a culture). Similarly Opis an external relation if neither p-w nor pw
equals p.
The other possibility, which I think more plausible, is that the subject p
includes the relation Opas an inherent relation. In this case, being human in-
cludes a relation to the development toward well-being. In particular, we
have to go this direction in the case of rights which we recognize as inherent,
or as derived from inherent dignity. Being a subject of a right includes also
the relation Op, and simultaneously the subject palso includes different as-
pects akof the development or well-being.
78 MAREK PIECHOWIAK
3I mean “basic” as opposite to “instrumental”. A basic evaluation in this sense can be a com-
plex one, on account of various aspects that are taken into account in the act of evaluation.
p
p-w ®pw
/ \
a1= ak=
A1  Ak
a1- ak-
We can talk meaningfully about universal human rights with some defi-
nite content if there are some akand relations of the Oa-type which are typi-
cal of and inherent to each human being. There are possible states ak- of a
subject p, whose presence excludes the possibility of well-being or fulfilment
of p—for example, being enslaved.
There is no need to know exactly what pwis. We can accept that pwis par-
tially determined by free choices, agreements, and so on. Therefore not kno-
wing pwis not only a matter of difficulties of cognition.
What is specific in the approach presented here is the identification of the
existence of relations and their terms, without an exact determination of
their content. The questions of what exactly is the exact nature of the identi-
fied relations, or what exactly are the terms of these relations, can be left
open. Because evaluations do not constitute these relations, they can be re-
garded as a tool used to refer to a certain reality, which has yet to be analysed
concretely.
6. Why should tdo Afor p?
I have considered the question of why a state of affairs Akis good for p. In
constructing a theory of human rights, I am interested in a specific type of
good—goods which are so important that they are due to p. One of the major
features of such a good is that it is the foundation of an obligation on the part
of other members of society. Relations of being due require another agent,
which we can call t—someone who is under obligation, and who should be-
have in a certain way because of the relation of Abeing due to p. The basic
schema looks as follows:
tAk
Akp
Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True? Some Introductory Remarks 79
I call the relation between tand Akthe relation of obligation. When dis-
cussing the rights of p, being an object Akof ts obligation involves a relation
of Akbeing due to p. There is a discussion whether it is possible to
exhaustively characterize a subjective right in terms of obligation. Referring
to our schema, we can say that it involves a question of the possibility of char-
acterizing the relation of being due, by a relation of being obliged. I cannot
go into details now (cf. Piechowiak 1999, 135–188; 2003), but let me only
observe that in the legal protection of human rights, there is sometimes a ref-
erence to rights with clear presuppositions that the subjects who are obliged
to do what is due to a subject of a right have not yet been determined (e.g. In-
ternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, art. 2, para. 2; cf.
Piechowiak 1999, 150–162); on the other hand, an obligation of tis always
toward p. My aim, however, is not to sketch an adequate theory. I am looking
only for an ontological structure which allows us to talk meaningfully, at
least in some cases, about true rights.
Referring to the example of the right to life, I would like to consider the
question of why tshould refrain from killing p, or why tshould provide p
with some life-saving services when p’s life is endangered. Generally speak-
ing—why should tdo Akfor p? Why is the relation of being due the founda-
tion of p’s obligation? A more general question is also involved—why should
tact at all? I am interested in obligations which are independent of any act of
norm giving—we can call them natural obligations. I am going to identify
relations about which there could be statements of obligation, prescriptive
utterances.
In the framework sketched above, the first answer is “because Akis good
for p”. But why should being good for someone else be a reason for tto do
Ak? Applying the benefit theory, we can answer thus: to do good to pis at the
same time good for t.But actually Akitself does not necessarily suit t; it is not
the case that there is a specific deficit fulfilled by Ak. Providing Akto pcan
very often be a burden for t, and tmay lose something that he or she has.
Staying within the framework of benefit theory, we can say that tbenefits
from the very acting for p, benefits as an acting subject as a whole. In accor-
dance with the classic European philosophical reflection on the foundations
of law, one can say that tbecomes a just person, that he or she “has” less but
“is” more. Tradition would add that justice is the highest virtue, and the hi-
ghest perfection of a human being. Though this claim is simple, its justifica-
tion is not. For our purposes it is enough to identify which relations we are
talking about. Analogously with the relation Op(p-w,pw), we can also talk
about the relation Ot(t-w,tw). Acting for the benefit of others is an indispen-
80 MAREK PIECHOWIAK
sable, inherent element of well-being. This idea is expressed also in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). To take this document seriously,
we have to accept what it states in article 1, about the human being as the
foundation of human rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in di-
gnity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should
act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. This article is stating
what human beings are like. From a grammatical point of view, the only pre-
scriptive element is contained at the end: “should act towards one another in
a spirit of brotherhood”. But taking into account the whole wording of this
article and its function, this last expression can be treated not as a prescrip-
tive utterance, but rather as a statement of what human beings are like. To be
a human being includes not only being free and endowed with dignity, rea-
son, and conscience, but to be a human being also includes the relation of ac-
ting for the benefit of others.
The basic ontological structure underlying the norm “tshould do Akfor
p” can be represented as follows:
t®p
t-w ®twp-w ®pw
|
Akak=
ak-
The utterance “tshould do Akfor p” is correlated to a certain set of rela-
tions—it claims to describe it. It is true if these relations obtain. At least in
some cases, it is very plausible to recognize that the indicated relations exist
objectively and are a possible object of cognition, and consequently “tshould
do Akfor p” can be true in a strong sense.
Let us take the example of the right expressed in article 5 of the Universal
Declaration: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or de-
grading treatment or punishment” (similar rights are expressed in interna-
tional treaties, e.g. in art. 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights 1966; art. 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989). This
right certainly comprehends a more particular right: “No small child shall be
subjected to cruel physical torture”. In this case, the state of affairs A1
which is the object of a right—consists of being free of cruel physical torture;
the subject pis a small child. We can identify an evaluation, “A1is good for
p”. This evaluation is saying something about reality, namely that there is
Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True? Some Introductory Remarks 81
a relation of congruence between being free of cruel physical torture, and a
certain aspect a1of p. This evaluation is based on a relation between a possi-
ble or real state a1- caused by torture, and a state of a certain balance, a1=.
Intuitively it is very difficult to claim that this evaluation is based solely
on emotional reactions, choices, education, or cultural standards. If this for-
mula is true, then it informs us about reality, and consequently we can claim
that someone who rejects it is objectively wrong.
We can also identify the norm, “subject tshould refrain from A1—the
cruel physical torturing of a small child p”, or a norm “tshould prevent other
subjects from cruelly physically torturing small children”. If we accept the
existence of the identified relations, there it possible to say that these norms
are true in the strong sense. They inform us about reality.
Right can be regarded as a complex structure of relations. If these rela-
tions exist, then we can say that human rights are real and that statements
about these rights may be true.
7. Final comments
The basic ontological condition for statements about rights, as well as for
norms and evaluations being true, is the objective existence of relations. Rela-
tions have to be recognized as something given, and something more than
the sum of their terms. Therefore all approaches which deny the real exist-
ence of relations (like nominalism) cannot be reconciled with the approach
presented here, and it seems very doubtful if it is possible to talk at all about
true norms or about true evaluations in the strong sense, in a framework of
approaches which denies the real existence of relations.
In the proposed approach, true norms inform us about objective reality.
We can say that it is so that tshould do Afor p. A normative element is borne
in certain relations.
There is no need to know exactly the nature and the content of the terms of
the relations (in fact, in the case of declarative statements like “the sun is shin-
ing”, most people do not know exactly what the sun is and what is meant by
“shining”, and here also a certain relation is decisive for being true). Statements
about inherent rights and norms comprised in these rights refer to an objective
reality, which determines the content of rights, obligations, and so on.
Consequently, the relations and the terms of relations are subjects for dis-
cussion. Moral dilemmas and discussions about rights could be real in the
sense that both parties are discussing something which is given, though so-
82 MAREK PIECHOWIAK
metimes very difficult to find out about. Such a discussion is something more
than sharing evaluative convictions and seeking compromise.
There are some limitations to the theory sketched above. The provided
schemes are related to norms which are individual and concrete. An exten-
sion which also includes general and abstract norms seems to be possible, but
it is evidently more complicated, and it involves the old problem of univer-
sals.
The identified relations could also be useful in clarifying discussions on
truth in a “weaker” sense, when one or more of the identified relations are not
objective in the strong sense, e.g. are constituted by legal norms.
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Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True? Some Introductory Remarks 83
Norm and Truth
Edited by
Marek Piechowiak
School of Humanities and Journalism in Poznañ
Poznañ 2008
Contents
Preface / vii
I. Tradition
Stanis³aw Czepita
Czes³aw Znamierowski’s Conception of the Norm and the Problem
of Truth / 3
Jakub Martewicz
Truth of Legal Norms in Czes³aw Znamierowski’s Philosophy / 8
Giuseppe Lorini
The Threefold Role of the Logical Value of Norms / 16
Edoardo Fittipaldi
Illusions of Imperatives, Norms, and Truth / 26
Pawe³ £¹cki
Ethical cognitivism in Finnis’s Theory / 39
Andrzej Spycha³a
On the Transition from Being to Ought—Is the Problem Real? / 49
II. Theory
Amedeo G. Conte
Xenonyms. Xenonymy, Synonymy, Synsemy / 57
Marek Piechowiak
Can Human Rights be Real? Can Norms be True? / 71
Paolo Di Lucia
Founding Norms on Truth versus Founding Truth on Norms / 84
v
Guglielmo Siniscalchi
Normality as Truth / 94
Angiola Filipponio
Phenomenology of the Truth of Norms / 99
Olgierd Pankiewicz
Reduction to Objectivity in Law / 110
Antonio Incampo
Rules from Truths, Truths from Rules / 117
Stefano Colloca
A Priori versus A Posteriori in Axiotics / 125
Lorenzo Passerini Glazel
True Norms / 132
Tomasz Koz³owski
Legalness—Philosophical Truth as a Concept of Law / 141
Maurycy Zajêcki
Axiological Presuppositions of Legal Text: Some Ideas in the Neopositive
Approach / 150
III. Practice
Jacek Sobczak and Agnieszka Stêpiñska
The Truth of the Court and the Truth of the Media / 161
Ksenia Kakareko
Human Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus: Between
Declarations and Real Guarantees / 170
Maria Go³da-Sobczak
Historical Truth and the Possibilities of its Normative Consequences / 182
Piotr Piesiewicz
The Real or Virtual World—Legal Norms in Virtual Worlds / 193
About the authors / 203
vi Contents
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Filozofia praw cz³owieka. Prawa cz³owieka w oewietle ich miêdzynarodowej ochrony. Lublin: Towarzystwo Naukowy Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski
  • Marek Piechowiak
Piechowiak, Marek. 1999. Filozofia praw cz³owieka. Prawa cz³owieka w oewietle ich miêdzynarodowej ochrony. Lublin: Towarzystwo Naukowy Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski.-. 2003. Prawo a wolnooeae. In Prawa cz³owieka-Prawa rodziny. 30 lat Poznañskiego Zak³adu Instytutu Nauk Prawnych PAN. Ed. R. Hliwa and A. Schulz. Poznañ: Instytut Nauk Prawnych PAN. 37-54.
Practical Logic. Trans. Leon Ter-Oganian. Warsaw: Pañstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe
  • Zygmunt Ziembiñski
Ziembiñski, Zygmunt. 1976. Practical Logic. Trans. Leon Ter-Oganian. Warsaw: Pañstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe; Dordrecht: D. Reidl.
Moral realism In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Jonathan Dancy
Dancy, Jonathan 1998. Moral realism. In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. E. Craig. London: Routledge. [CD edition].
Indianapolis: Hackett. Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. UN General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20
Aristotle. 1985. Nicomachean Ethics. Trans. T. H. Irwin. Indianapolis: Hackett. Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. UN General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November.
Truth, correspondence theory of
  • Richard L Kirkham
Kirkham, Richard L. 1998. Truth, correspondence theory of. In Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. E. Craig. London: Routledge. [CD edition].
  • Zygmunt Ziembiñski
Ziembiñski, Zygmunt. 1976. Practical Logic. Trans. Leon Ter-Oganian. Warsaw: Pañstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe; Dordrecht: D. Reidl.