生命至上（The highest idea of life）就是指生命价值高于一切，生命是万物的尺度，在世界上没有比生命更为宝贵的存在。生命至上包含着五个要素：生命的神圣性；生命的符号性；生命的珍贵性；生命的必然性以及生命的脆弱性。同时，生命至上既包含着活着的生命，同时包含着逝者生命的尊重。
The Conflict Between the Right to Life and the Right to Freedom and Their Value Integration
Han Da Yuan
At present, what the human race is going through is the most serious global COVID-19 pandemic in a century.Facing these severe challenges, people are full of unease, confusion, and worry about the uncertainty of the global future.
The history of human civilization tells us that the more severe challenges and difficult choices we are facing, we human beings need to share common values, return to the power of human nature, light up the glory of life, forge social consensus, and work together against the global challenges. At the urgent time, the international community should cherish the community of life and strengthen the awareness of building a community with a shared future for mankind, of which the existence of dignified life is the premise. No matter what epidemic prevention and control measures are taken by all countries, we should take a common position on the protection of life.
Ⅰ. Constitutional Meaning of The right to life
Nothing is more precious than people’s lives in the world. As the logical premise of the existence of humans, people’s lives embody human value and human dignity. And human dignity is the interpretation of the existence of lives. The existence of lives is the basis of that of human The existence of lives is the basis of that of human civilization, and the progress of civilization is based on the human birth and continuation of lives.
The highest idea of life means that the value of life is above all else, and life is the yardstick of all things, which means there is nothing more precious than life in the world. The highest idea of life contains five elements: the sanctity of life; the symbolism of life; the preciousness of life; the inevitability of life and the fragility of life. The highest idea of life contains not only the importance of the living ones but also respect for the life of the deceased.
The constitutional elements of the right to life include: the naturalness of the right to life, which refers to that the right to life indicates the natural right to human existence; the subjectivity of the right to life, that is, the state cannot take the right to life as a means for the country to achieve its goal under any circumstances; the defensive in nature of the right to life, that is, the essence of the right to life is the defense against all acts infringing upon life; the equality of the right to life, which means that the life value of all people is equal and can not be treated differently; the request of the right to life, that is, when the right to life is violated, citizens have the right to make a request for protection to the state, in order to get the necessary relief; and the non-repeatability of the right to life, because the right to life is the basis of human dignity and the starting point of all rights, the individual’s right to life also has the nature of the value order of the social community. The infringement of the individual’s right to life is also the infringement of the value of the constitutional order. Once life is violated, its value cannot be restored.Therefore, in the sense of constitutional jurisprudence, the right to life is distinct from other basic rights and can not be endowed again.
II. The Conflict Between the Right to Life and the Right to Freedom
In essence, the human right to life has absolute value, which not only reflects the highest value of the existence of the community, but also bears the realization of its freedom. However, in modern society, the value of the right to life and the value of the right to freedom is not in balance, and sometimes there are conflicts. This global pandemic tells us what constitutional philosophy and moral norms are used to protect the value of life when there is a conflict between them. How to secure the priority of the right to life?
The value conflicts between the right to life and the right to freedom are mainly underlying in the right to life and personal freedom, the right to life and freedom of religious belief, the right to life and privacy, the right to life and property right, the right to life and freedom of expression, and the right to life and freedom of work, etc.. Among them, the most prominent conflicts are the right to life and personal freedom, the right to dignity and the freedom of religious belief.
In the face of the global COVID-19 that does not respect borders, countries have to take the most stringent prevention and control measures which include the declaration of a state of emergency, the issuance of household orders, restrictions on personal freedom, freedom of religious belief, freedom of demonstration and freedom of employment.
The conflict between the right to life and freedom of religious belief is also a topic of concern. We all need to know that freedom of religious belief is inner spiritual freedom. However, in the face of the global epidemic, freedom of religious belief and religious activities are restricted, and this time we have to balance these two different values. Individual freedom of religious belief is important, but in order to protect the health and lives of faithful believers and the lives of others, we have to restrict freedom of religious belief.
III. The Constitutional Logic -- the Right to Life Above the Right to Freedom
The equal protection of the right to life is the constitutional obligation of the state. The right to life is the most basic human right of mankind, which is a principle recognized and guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Human Rights Conventions. Words and ideas such as “lives are priceless, lives are equal and lives have dignity” are reflected in the concrete measures of pandemic prevention and resistance. For example, in China, no matter he is a newborn baby or he is over 100 years old, the value of their lives is equal.And our country treats lives equally during the pandemic, which reflects the equality of life.
How to choose the value rank between the right to life and the right to dignity? Lives and dignity embody the basic values of human beings, but when there are conflicts between them, lives are over dignity. As life is the basis of dignity, the value of dignity has been incorporated into lives, and the protection of lives is actually the protection of human dignity.
When it comes to the conflict between the protection of the right to life and the national economic development, in order to give priority to the protection of the value of life, economic development can be sacrificed. In the face of COVID-19, the country needs to balance its related interests, including national investment, economic development, and so on. We choose to slow down the speed of economic development and bear the pressure of economic downturn, but the country should choose to save every life, equally protect lives threatened by the virus at all costs, and let people feel the sanctity and dignity of life.
The priority of the value of the right to life also means that the state fulfills the obligation of providing free medical care. When there is a conflict between the right to life and freedom, the value goal of the supremacy of life and the priority of the right to life should be chosen, regardless of cost. In China, in order to save the life of an old man in his 70s, he has been treated for three months, with a total cost of more than 1.4 million that is all covered by the state.
In the conflict between the right to life and the value of freedom, the Eastern and the Western countries need to learn from each other and seek a consensus to give priority to the protection of life. After this pandemic, Western countries need to re-recognize cultural pluralism and think deeply about the system of dealing with social and individual relations as well as the value of collectivism in non-Western countries, including the social security system, the principle of proportionality between national security and the limitation of basic rights, and so on.
The balance between the right to life and the value of freedom should be based on the rational application of the principle of proportionality. Life is as important as freedom, but when there is no balance, we can only choose life as the priority value and seek a reasonable moral basis abiding by the principle of proportionality.
IV. The Balance Between the Right to Life and the Right to Freedom -- Constitutional Consensus
In order to respond to the development trend of human rights in the post-COVID-19 era, we need to make theoretical preparations, especially to build a culture of respect for life.
We should turn respect for life into a constitutional consensus, establish the concept of “nothing is more precious than people’s lives” in the whole society, earnestly respect the value of the right to life, and should not ignore the meaning of life. And we should also regard the reverence for life as the political ethics of the operation of all public rights to make people feel the legitimate concern for the right to life.
It is necessary to take prevention as the basic form of the protection of the right to life, and change the habitual thinking of being satisfied with ex post facto responsibility and relief, so as to make the maintenance of life have reasonable expectations. In the risk society, with the rapid advance of science and technology, various risks of infringing on life still exist, and we need effective prevention measures and systems.
Strengthening interdisciplinary research on the right to life and formulating bioethical standards need to be urgently implemented to defend human dignity and prevent human beings from being marginalized in the face of science and technology.
Treat the development of modern science and technology rationally. After going through COVID-19, we have seen the brilliance of humanity and we have defeated the virus by the power of humanity. There is no doubt that science and technology also play a role in the prevention and control of COVID-19, but we cannot blindly worship science and technology or expand the role of science and technology.
Caring for the value of everyone’s life and being in awe of life should become the mainstream value of society and also the way of life of human beings. The supremacy of life not only carries history and embodies the value of civilization, but also indicates people’s reasonable expectations.
In the post-COVID-19 era, we should take the value of life seriously, prevent the value of life from being instrumentalized and vulgarized, and build a human culture that human lives are respected.