A terrific series of interviews over at Ignatius Insight with Fr. James Schall, one of the most interesting men around. In this third segment he talks about the importance of sports (and the Platonic and Aristotelian aspects of it), and the outlook for the American republic; but what really caught my eye was his discussion of human dignity and social justice:
Behind this issue of population decline is the proper understanding of what is meant by social justice and human rights, both of which terms are, at best, highly ambiguous in modern philosophy. The Church’s widespread use of both of these terms has, in my view, been a cause of serious concern since both have a double meaning, one of which, what I call the modern one, simply undermines the other.
Social justice is used as an alternative to personal autonomy and dignity so that our virtue becomes what movement we belong to. Human rights have origins in Hobbes and mean whatever we want them to mean. Their content is provided by will alone. Unraveling the confusions such concepts cause is mind-boggling. But there is little doubt in my mind that the usage of both of these terms is the primary avenue for undermining any Christian concept of the person and a common good. It is all well and good to say that there are defensible meanings to these terms, but they are not the dominant ones or the operative terms in the public order.
If that doesn't speak to the tyranny of Relativism - "Human rights . . . mean whatever we want them to mean." That says it in a nutshell,