with wild animals, plants, and other creatures
Existential dialogue 12: respect for the rights of others

Existential dialogue 12: respect for the rights of others

respect for the rights of others

Respect for the rights of others

A dialogue between Davina the goose and Peter the hawk. Davina is a great traveler who knows that knowledge and ethics are acquired with experience. Peter thinks that animals and plants are equal to humans and that mutual aid is needed.

Davina: Peter, how about talking yoga today?

Peter: I’m listening, Davina.

Davina: well, a man in the US wrote that women who are a little older or heavy should avoid wearing yoga pants outside of yoga classes.

Peter: ah, it’s not about yoga but about aesthetics.

Davina: it triggered an uproar from some women who felt attacked in their right to dress as they want.

Peter: it reminds me of a conversation I overheard between the Simones and Luce.

Davina: where they said that males imagine that their worldview is universal and want to impose it on females?

Peter: yes, this one . Do you believe this is the same case here?

Davina: yes and no because the women who have come forward have taken this as an attack on their identity coming from a domineering man, but it can also be a question of the right of expression.

Peter: two rights that each have their own value but are not always compatible.

Davina: indeed! The experience of both party in this story should have allowed everyone to realize that they were using different rights or if not rights, at least different conceptions of what’s allowed. So why, instead of feeling attacked, did they not understand and respect the other’s right to express himself or herself? Humans seem more and more attached to their prerogatives and less and less inclined to compromise. Everyone remains in their positions and forgets to try to understand.

Peter: you mean that between being polite to respect differences or frank to express your individuality, or between being free of your choices or making an effort not to offend, there is no longer a middle ground?

Davina: yes, you summarize the situation well. All rights presuppose duties and in particular that of understanding the origin of these rights. This then allows everyone to see that life with others always requires a little restrain to cohabit peacefully with others.

Peter: their society is too large so that many forget that mutual aid and respect are necessary for everything to work correctly. There is an atomization of individualities lost in the illusion of their autonomy.

Davina: autonomy illusory but which allows them to think that anything is possible.

Peter: whether it is to speak in a derogatory way or to deny the effect that individual choices have on the community.

Davina: exactly.

Peter: they could ignore each other, they would avoid conflicts!

Davina: of course but if everyone stays in their bubble so as not to be upset, don’t you think that their society will collapse ? You have to have kindness towards others, this allows you to understand and freely accept moral imperatives.

Peter: I agree with you, dear Davina, but if they no longer want to listen to their heart and their common sense, they may end up fighting more and reproducing less. We wouldn’t be sorry if there were fewer of them.

Davina: Peter, you’re cynical but seen that way, you might be right.

Peter: see, long live the yoga pants!


How to live in society and express yourself freely when everyone is different?

For Davina, taking positions of principle without accepting to look at the reality of things can only lead to antagonisms. Rights are always something that is negotiated on a case-by-case basis and if we forget to be benevolent, there is no longer any morality possible.

For Peter, the mutual aid necessary for a society to function properly should encourage everyone to think about their choices in order to maintain harmony, but if everyone thinks they are autonomous, this need is no longer perceived.

Possible discussions

Should I think about the effect that my choices will have on others before making them?

Is freedom compatible with the difference?


Want to think a little more? See, for example, Moral philosophy where Hume shows that moral relies on a natural feeling of kindness towards others.

Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.

Want to know more about the tastes of Davina and Peter? Their favorite books are in the domain library.


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