What is a "right": dimensions of rights based thinking among university students
Skaftfeld, Erika Kelsey
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Human Rights instruments have not been applied equally to all people. This is evidenced by the development of additional treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There is also no universal set of rights for animals suggesting we think differently about the rights of living creatures. This thesis drew upon three philosophical frameworks of rights – morality, moral sentiment and equality – to explore the dimensions that university students use to consider the rights of children, people with disabilities and animals. It examined whether people define rights of these populations differently, and what theoretical dimensions underlie those definitions. The Concepts of Rights Questionnaire was administered and significant differences were found in participants’ support for physical punishment and euthanasia depending on the target population as well as their underlying theoretical belief. The results affirm that participants do not apply a universal set of rights standards to the three populations.