On what basis, if any, can we speak meaningfully of human rights?

Answer: The concert of human rights is closely related to the ideas of Metaethics. Metaethics provide us with an overview of what does it mean to be a human and what are the basis to make a moral judgement? The main idea is to find out the answer to the question of why to be good? Unlike the case of common good where this question is answered by the natural law, in case of human rights humans as individuals or on a collective basis decide the good for a society. This makes the whole concept of human rights specific to societies and there is always a chance for individuals to decide what is good for them in individual capacity (that is why human right laws made by people may not correspond to the actual expectations and needs of the individuals of the society as these laws are influenced by individuals and pressure groups). This is the reason that we see that there is a distant understanding of the concept of human rights in the western societies and the rest of the world.

Different societies make justice systems where they can ensure individual and collective human rights by punishing certain people for the crimes they do against individuals or society. This implies that to establish something to be a “crime” is in itself debatable. This was exploited by John Locke when he provided a justification for slavery by arguing that “people can be enslaved as punishment for a crime which would otherwise deserve death.” So we can see that societies can define human rights but at the same time suspend the human rights of some people for personal or social interests.