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On the Teleological Interpretation of the Right to a Happy Life
August 03,2020   By:CSHRS
On the Teleological Interpretation of the Right to a Happy Life
 
HUANG Aijiao*
 
Abstract: In his letter to the symposium commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward that “people’s happy life is the greatest human right”. The academic implication of this important exposition is that it puts forward a major concept, the right to a happy life as a human right, in the field of human rights. The right to a happy life is the right that people pursue, enjoy and realize a happy life, which belongs to the general right, that is, the “bundle of rights”. Teleological interpretation provides a strong defense for the right to a happy life. However, teleological interpretation may bring many risks, which may get the right to a happy life into many dilemmas, such as the loss of dignity due to the degradation of “human” as a tool, the loss of justice due to the damage to the human rights of a few individuals or groups, the possible violation of human rights due to the promotion of the expansion of government power, and the difficulty of universal recognition due to differences in the pursuit of happiness and the happiness itself. Therefore, we must adhere to the “people-centered” principle and justice to enhance the government’s serious handling of human rights and reach an overlapping consensus in the pursuit of happiness, so as to restrict the teleological interpretation of the right to a happy life in a rational manner and promote the development of China’s human rights cause.
 
Keywords: right to a happy life·teleology·human rights·happiness 
 
In December, 2018, in his letter to the symposium commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, General Secretary Xi Jinping stated that “people’s happy life is the greatest human right”. In doing so, he put forward a major concept in the human rights field, which is the right to a happy life is a human right. In this letter, General Secretary Xi Jinping further proposed that “In the past nearly seven decades since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, espe-cially in the past four decades since the launch of reform and opening-up, the Chinese nation has realized a great leap from rising to its feet, growing rich to getting strong. The development achievements of China come down to one point, which is the continuous improvement of the living standards of hundreds of millions of Chinese people.” This major judgment points out that hundreds of millions of Chinese people are gradually securing and realizing the right to a happy life. To interpret this major argument from an academic perspective, we should explore questions as follows: What is the right to a happy life? What is the legitimacy of the right to a happy life? How to promote the realization of the right to a happy life? These are questions that urgently need in-depth interpretation in theory.
 
I. The Right to a Happy Life: Value or Human Right?
 
At present, governments around the world employ constitutions, laws and norms to guarantee citizens’ pursuit of happiness and their right to enjoy and obtain happiness. With the continuous progress and development of human rights, happiness as the purpose of value or human rights has translated into a basic right — the right to a happy life.
 
A. Value and norms
 
Happiness originated from a concept in the field of moral philosophy, referring to the value pursued by people. From the perspective of moral philosophy, happiness is exhibited in three theoretical forms: the subjective theory (the subjectivist approach to happiness), the objective theory (the objectivis t approach to happiness) and the comprehensive theory. According to the subjectivist approach to happiness, happiness is a subjective experience of pleasure. As Mill put it, by happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure. According to the objectivist approach to happiness, happiness is the objective self-perfection, self-realization and self-fulfillment that does not depend on one’s own subjective feelings, and is the full realization of one’s own potential. As Aristotle ar gued, happiness is an activity of the rational soul in accordance with virtue. According to the comprehensive theory, “Happiness, in essence, is great joy; in general, it is the psychological experience of the realization of ideals; to be precise, it is the psychological experience of the realization of the needs, desires and purposes that are significant to one’s lifetime”1 . At present, one trend in the understanding and recognition of happiness is to return from the definition and discussion from the view of pure metaphysics to the connotations and meaning of the word happiness in people’s daily use, to return to and reflect on the happy life itself, which is to return to the daily life itself for a “person”. For example, D. A. Lloyd Thomas once defined happiness in four ways, each by the way it is used in everyday life, to explain the meaning contained in its usage2; D. M. Haybor also analyzed the four ways happiness is used in everyday life3. Thus, from the connections among and reflection on concepts of “person”, “happiness”, “everyday life”, etc., we may extend a major point of view: How can people enjoy and realize a happy life?
 
Nowadays, almost all countries in the world endue and protect people’s right to pursue and enjoy happiness by means of their constitutions, laws, systems and norms. According to some scholars in China, “The basic civil rights (human rights) stipulated in the Constitution are the institutional guarantee for the substantiation of the people’s livelihood and happiness”.4 Other scholars also argue that the continuous development of the human rights cause is “for the people to live a happier life with greater dignity”.5 At the international level, the human rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Co venant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights in 1966 are all aimed at allowing people to gain happiness and live a good life. At the national level, the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 held that “the pursuit of happiness” was a truth and an unalienable right endowed by the Creator; the French Declaration of t he Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789 stated that “the representatives of the French people” should safeguard the “happiness of all” the French people, which conveyed the human rights demand and value of pursuing happiness; the Constitution of South Korea stipulates that “all citizens have the dignity and value as humans and the right to pursue happiness. The state recognizes and has an obligation to protect the basic human rights of its citizens from violation”. To enjoy the dignity and value as humans and pursue happiness constitute the core of basic human rights, as well as the foundation on which all other rights arise. Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution states, “All citizens are respected as individuals. The right of citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must be accorded the greatest respect in legislation and in the administration of other state affairs, so long as it is not contrary to the public good.” It can be seen that the pursuit of ethical value of happiness has gradually moved towards human rights norms, and has reemerged in the form of legal rights, turning into a basic right — the right to a happy life. 
 
B. Bundle of rights 
 
What is the right to a happy life? Based on the existing academic thought, the academic concept related to the right to a happy life is the right to pursue happiness and the citizen’s right to happiness. When it comes to the right to pursue happiness, scholars, during their study of the general rights stipulated in the Japanese Constitution, believe that the basic rights stated in the Constitution can be generalized into “the right to pursue happiness”.6  “The right to pursue happiness” emphasizes the inviolability of people’s right to pursue a happy life, and focuses on the experience and acquisition of a happy life. As for the citizen’s right to happiness, scholars believe that it “refers to the citizens’ right to enjoy a kind of good psychological experience in the evaluation of their own living conditions and subjective feeling of right identification”.7  “The citizen’s right to happiness” emphasizes a subject’s recognition of happiness, but does not emphasize that the pursuit of a happy life itself should be free from infringement. To be sure, both “the right to pursue happiness” and “the citizen’s right to happiness” convey the right of people to aspire for and enjoy a happy life, though they do not cover all the elements of the right to a happy life. We believe that the right to a happy life refers to the right of citizens to pursue, enjoy and realize a happy life. As far as the subject of the right to a happy life, it is the right enjoyed and realized by individual citizens, because happiness, as experience of joy, is exclusive to individual natural persons. In terms of the content of the right to happiness, it mainly includes three kinds of rights: first, the right to pursue a happy life, which means citizens enjoy the right to pursue a happy life; second, the right to enjoy a happy life, which refers to the rights granted to citizens by law related to a happy life; third, the right to achieve a happy life, which emphasizes the conditions provided by the state and government for the promotion of a happy life.
 
The right to a happy life is not a single or independent right stated in the constitution or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but a kind of general right, or to be more precise, it is a “bundle of rights”. What are the rights included in the right to a happy life, as a “bundle of rights”? Scholars, during their study of the right to pursue happiness stipulated in the Japanese Constitution, derived many new rights and included them under the “right to pursue happiness”, such as the right to privacy, the right to a healthy environment, the right to quietness, the right to a view, the right to enter the beach, the right to dislike tobacco, the right to health, the right to information, the right to access the media, the right to live in peace and so on.8 In addition, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to happiness can be extended to civil rights, such as the right to life and liberty; political rights (e.g. freedom of speech); “the right to an adequate standard of living including food”, the right to work, the labor right, the right to social security, as included in the economic, social and cultural rights, etc. Therefore, it is fair to say that the content of the right to a happy life will go through profound changes in different countries and in different periods, exhibiting disparities. At present, China is in a historical period featuring a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the right to a happy life enjoyed by citizens in the new era include not only the right to subsistence and the right to development, but also a full range of economic, political, social, cultural and environmental rights.
 
C. The significance of the right to a happy life
 
First, to justify the socialist path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics. In 2011, Wang Chen, the then-Director of State Council Press Office pointed out at the Beijing Forum on Human Rights that China has “explored a socialist path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics”; in 2015, in his congratulatory letter to the Beijing Forum on Human Rights, General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward that China has “embarked on a path of human rights development suited to China’ national conditions”; in 2018, in his letter to the symposium commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, General Secretary Xi Jinping also stressed the importance of “seeking a path of human rights development suited to national conditions”. The Western countries have always questioned the socialist path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics, especially ignoring or disregarding the achievements of China’s human rights cause, and judging China’s human rights by “double standards”. The Party and state have made remarkable achievements to counter the Western countries’ discrediting and questioning of human rights in China. For example, over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has lifted over 700 million people out of poverty, created jobs for 770 million people, and built the world’s largest education system, largest social security system and largest grassroots democratic electoral system.9 All of these can be attributed to the “path of human rights development suited to national conditions” taken by China. The ultimate goal of the path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics is to enable people to live a happy life. As General Secretary Xi Jinping has put it, the aim is to achieve “ever-improving living standards for hundreds of millions of Chinese people”, which means Chinese people are gradually realizing their right to a happy life.
 
Second, to overcome the dilemma faced by the development of the world’s human rights cause. At present, the world’s human rights cause is facing a dilemma manifested by the conflict between universalism and cultural relativism, the contradiction between universality and particularity, equality and human rights prioritizing, conflicts among human rights, etc. These problems have aroused the interest of scholars in continuous and in-depth research, but most scholars have based their perspective on deontology. The deontological perspective has its own advantages and limitations — it cannot solve all problems. In order to overcome the dilemma of deontological interpretation, there is an urgent need to explore the teleological theory as a supplementary perspective. According to deontology, human dignity, rationality, equality, autonomy and moral capacity, as human rights value, are bound to lead to universal obedience and observance. However, this will lead to a debate between universalism and cultural relativism, which will become a “postmodern disaster”. From a teleological perspective, the ultimate goal of the development of the world’s human rights cause lies in “the happy life of the people all over the world”, and such perspective combines the purpose and effect to explain the rationality of human rights restrictions, human rights prioritization, conflicts among human rights and other behaviors in human rights practice, which will effectively overcome the dilemma of a deontological perspective for the development of the world’s human rights cause.
 
II. The Value Foundation of the Right to a Happy Life: Deontology or Teleology?
 
Is the right to a happy life reasonable and legitimate? This requires an in-depth analysis of the value foundation of the right to a happy life. There are two pathways for analysis of the value foundation of human rights: deontology and teleology. Teleology can provide a powerful defense for the right to a happy life.
 
A. Deontology and teleology
 
Deontology requires people to do what is ought to be done, that is, they should act in this way and not in that way. It provides justification for the legitimacy of a theory or behavior. It is manifested by two characteristics: first, unconditionality, which requires the actor to comply and not comply casually or optionally; second, absoluteness, which requires the actor to perform obligations without any exception. In ancient Greece, Democritus’ principle of justice, a nd Socrates, Plato and Aristotle’s deontology, all argued how one ought to behave out of respect for rationality. The modern philosopher Kant established a relatively complete system of deontology and pushed the theory to i ts peak. Contemporary philosophers such as Rawls, Dworkin, Walzer and Habermas have al so offered their idea s on duty. According to deontological interpretations, the intrinsic value of human rights is manifested as human dignity, rationality, equality, autonomy, moral capacity, etc., which demonstrates the reasonableness and legitimacy of human rights practice. For example, the value of human dignity means that human rights should be absolute and people ought to respect human rights unconditionally. The value of rationality means that human rights should be universally enjoyed by all, and should be respected and protected. However, deontology pays little attention to the ultimate purpose or outcome of human rights practice.
 
Teleology requires that people must b ehave in a way that conforms to “goodness” or “kindness” and consider the purpose and effects of their behavior. It manifests as a theoretical basis for the observation of human behaviors in term of the purpose and effect. The basic concept contained in it is that the criterion for judging good or bad behavior is whether they contribute to the realization of a certain purpose. Those contributing to the realization of a purpose are good behavior; otherwise, they are bad behaviors. Epicurus’ hedonism in ancient Greece , Hobbes’ utilitarianism, Bentham’s “the greatest happiness of th e greatest n umber of people”, Mill’s utilitarianism, etc., are all views on the teleological interpretation. From a teleological perspective, the intrinsic value of human rights is manifested as the pursuit of happiness, pleasure, utility, etc. To define happiness, pleasure and utility as the value foundation of the right to a happy life, it means that citizens take the value of happiness, pleasure and utility as the purpose or effect to engage in human rights practice, and that the state, government, society or other people protect human rights based on the increase or decrease in, promotion of or hindrance to happiness, pleasure and utility. Over the past more than 40 years of reform and opening-up, the Chinese people have experienced an improvement in their living standards and a continuous increase in their sense of happiness, gain and security, which strongly demonstrates the ultimate purpose of China’s human rights cause.
 
B. Value requirement for the right to a happy life
 
According to the teleological interpretation, value requirements for the right to a happy life are mainly exhibited in the following aspects.
 
First, it is bound to emphasize the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. Utilitarianism holds that the overall interest of the public is above individual interests, that is, for the overall interests of the public, individual interests should be restricted when necessary, and the ultimate purpose is for the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. For example, the proponent of traditional utilitarianism John Stuart Mill argued tha t the fundamental reason for protecting or restricting a right or benefit, “I can only say it is because of the public good (public utility) and I cannot give it any reason beyond that”10. Peter Jones, a proponent of rule utilitari anism, argued that people should live by the rules that best advance the common good. The American scholar Posner also proposed that human rights and public interests should be balanced, and human rights could be restricted for the consideration of national security when a country is in a state of emergency.11 Hereby, restrictive clauses on human rights in international human rights documents can be justified accordingly. From a teleological point of view, if a restriction on a certain human right in the realization of the right to a happy life is ultimately for promoting social welfare and enabling the society, the state or the group to achieve happiness, and for “the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people”, then such a restriction has legitimacy.
 
Second, it is bound to emphasize the coordination between public interests and the individual interests. On one hand, most Western countries that uphold the universality and absoluteness of human rights have ratified or acceded to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which means that social rights and the right to development advocated by non-Western countries especially developing countries are being recognized by more and more Western countries, and that the collective human rights put forward by non-Western countries are increasingly valued; on the other hand, most non-Western countries that uphold cultural relativism have also ratified or acceded to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, paying greater attention to individual rights and developing a rightsbased concept. All of the realities show that the conflict and opposition between universalism and cultural relativism of human rights, individual human rights and collective human rights, positive rights and negative rights are tending towards harmony and balance in emphasizing the coordination between public interests and individual rights. According to teleology, such a situation shows the identification with a happy life by people all over the world, and only in the happy life itself can people resolve the contradictions in human rights practice.
 
Third, it is bound to emphasize the priority of the right to subsistence, the right to development and social rights. Whichever human right is most conducive to people’s pursuit of happiness or the increase in social welfare will have priority, which provides the basis for the sequencing of the right to a happy life under the value foundation of pursuing happiness. Is this facilitating the resolution of current human rights conflicts? The answer is positive. As Gewirth argues, “When human rights clash, the rights that are more morally important take precedence over those that are less important: the right not to go hungry, for example, ta kes precedence over the right to paid leave”.12 Therefore, to realize the right to a happy life, we must emphasize the rights to subsistence and development as the primary human rights, the priority of social rights, and the state’s obligations in the protection of the right to subsistence, the right to development and social rights.
 
Fourth, it is bound to emphasize the universality of a happy life. The reason why human rights can be widely recognized and successfully spread to the whole world to become universally recognized by all countries is that human rights actions across the world are aimed at enabling people to live a happy life. Many non-Western countries oppose human rights with cultural relativism, which is actually to oppose the universality of human rights based on Western“cultural imperialism”, to oppose the Europe and American centered Western countries’ imposing and promoting their concepts of human rights, and to oppose the practice of using human rights to oppress sovereignty, rather than to oppose human rights themselves. Though non-Western countries advocate cultural relativism, it does not prevent them from recognizing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Different countries develop human rights based on their own political, economic, social and cultural conditions, and may discerningly promote cultural relativism aligned to the value foundation of accessing and realizing a happy life, thus transcending the opposition between universalism and cultural relativism.
 
III. The Dilemma and Transcendence of the Right to a Happy Life from a “Teleological” Perspective
 
Admittedly, the right to a happy life can be justified from the perspective of teleology. However, in both theory and practice, the teleological interpretation without any restriction presents the risk of departing from the principle of happy life or human rights, which may lead the right to happy life into a dilemma. Therefore, it is necessary to comprehensively assess and obtain a correct understanding of the potential risks brought by the teleological interpretation and to regulate such risks, so as to overcome the dilemma facing the teleological interpretation of the right to a happy life.
 
A. The dilemma arising from the teleological interpretation of the right to a happy life
 
The teleological interpretation of the right to a happy life as a human right may be subject to criticisms by deontology or the theory of duty, or it may give rise to more potential risks due to the limitation of utilitarianism, leading the human rights practice into a dilemma.
 
First, “human” is reduced to a tool, causing a loss of human dignity. To interpret “the right to a happy life as a human right”, it requires the human rights development and protection to be evaluated by whether they promote the happy life of the greatest number of people. Generally speaking, happiness is related to pleasure, satisfaction of needs, living a good life, etc., and its essence is interests and rights. From the perspective of utilitarianism, whether happiness can be realized mainly depends on whether the pursuit of interests can be realized, which takes interests as the highest measure and purpose. This brings potential risks in that when interests conflict with people, an individual’s life may be sacrificed to put interests above life; or the human person may be used as a means to gain interests, causing the degradation of the human to a tool for acquisition of interests and the loss of dignity, which goes contrary to the human rights concept and human rights themselves.
 
Second, damage to the human rights of minority individuals or groups, causing a loss of justice. From the perspective of teleology, it is inevitable to place the right to a happy life in the framework of utilitarian analysis and follow the basic principles and value orientation of utilitarianism. The value orientation of utilitarianism is to protect the maximum interests of the greatest number of people, which, for minority individuals or minority groups, advocates a so-called “utilitarian sacrifice”: “If individuals sacrifice for the well-being of the majority, this does not clash with the overall calculation of utilitarianism, on the contrary, that’s exactly what the principle suggests”13. To develop the right to a happy life or to guarantee people’s right to pursue a happy life based on this value orientation, it means that the human rights of a few individuals or groups can be sacrificed for the human rights of the majority. Obviously, this point of view ignores the characteristics of human rights as the rights for all and the equal access to human rights, the risk of which may lie in impairment of the human rights of minority individuals or groups, leading to a loss of justice.
 
Third, an increased possibility of the expansion of government power may cause violation of human rights. From the perspective of teleology, the realization of the right to a happy life emphasizes the responsibility and obligation of the state and the government, especially the point that the government should provide the necessary conditions for people to pursue happiness and obtain a happy life. For example, the government could take necessary actions to implement anti-poverty strategies and promote the realization of the right to development. 
 
It is worth noting that, on one hand, in the course of the promotion and protection of citizens’ economic, social and cultural rights as well as the rights to development and the environment, the state and government may tend towards authoritarianism; on the other hand, people may overly depend on the power of the state and government for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development, which may lead to deep penetration of the state and government power into the individual rights of citizens, causing violation of human rights. In the view of liberalism, the concept of human rights emphasizes the restriction of individuals on the government. This is because government power is constituted by the transfer of individual rights. Therefore, the legitimacy of the government lies in the consent of members of society, and the responsibility of the government is to safeguard the freedom and rights of individuals.14 If the right to a happy life, as a human right, loses its due vigilance against and restriction on the power of the state and government, the rights of the individual may be infringed at any time. If the realization of the right to a happy life is overly dependent on the authority of the state and government, which do not take human rights seriously, the possibility of individual human rights being infringed upon will increase.
 
Fourth, the pursuit of happiness and happiness itself are differentiated, making it hard to obtain universal acknowledgement. To interpret the right to a happy life with teleology may lead the realization of a happy life into a dilemma due to various controversy issues with the pursuit of happiness and happiness itself. For example, the concept of the pursuit of happiness itself is composed of two aspects, i.e. pursuit and happiness. Pursuit, as a motivational drive, finds its meaning in transcending the status quo; happiness, as the object for the motivational drive, is characterized by greater subjectivity and variability, just as Hegel said, “The content of happiness shifts by each person’s subjectivity and feelings”, “This universal purpose is therefore peculiar in it s own right, and there is no real unity of form and content in it”.15 If an undefined, highly subjective and contingent thing was taken as the standard, it would be difficult to obtain unanimity or widespread acceptance in reality, that is to say, there may be a phenomenon of “a thousand Hamlets in the eyes of a thousand people”. If the pursuit of happiness is universal, the risk is that except the consistency of the motivation for the pursuit, the difference in happiness will bring direct difficulties to the protection of human rights, such as the pursuit of happiness in reality is difficult to obtain universal agreement.
 
B. Approaches to transcending the dilemma facing the teleological interpretation of the right to a happy life
 
In view of the dilemma described above, we should consider how to transcend the dilemma facing the teleological interpretation of the right to a happy life, and make the right to a happy life a basic right and an important guarantee for people to live a happy life.
 
First, adhering to the “people-centered” concept of human rights. The potential risk of a “human” being reduced to a tool requires that we must adhere to the “people-centered” approach in the pursuit of happiness and in the development and protection of human rights. The core of “people-centered” is “people-oriented”, which is to redirect the focus on the subject of “people”. The “people-oriented” idea has gradually developed on the basis of opposing the “God-oriented”, “money-oriented” and “power-oriented” approaches, emphasizing the subjectivity of human beings. To adhere to a “people-centered” approach in the development and protection of human rights means to “put people first” and oppose the pure pursuit of interests. In other words, “people” should not be used as tools, but be taken as the foundation. People in this context means all members of society; human beings “refers to not only an integral whole, but also every natural person, every social person and every citizen, which reflects the respect for human life, for human individuals and for human dignity”16. Therefore, only by adhering to the “people-centered” concept can human rights be truly respected and protected, and human dignity be effectively safeguarded, so that people can pursue happiness, live a good life and achieve happiness in life based on human dignity.
 
Second, adhering to the principle of justice. The principle of justice must be upheld against the potential risk that the human rights of minority individuals or groups may be compromised by the “principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people”. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls clearly put forward two principles under the “Veil of Ignorance”, aiming to explain that on the basis of equal distribution, the interests of the least beneficiaries should be guaranteed. Rawls describes the two principles in this way, “First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others. Second: social and economic inequalities are to be so arranged that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all.”17 Obviously, Rawls makes an equal and fair distribution of citizens’ political rights based on a position of liberalism, but the theory here also involves economic rights. He believes that the distribution of economic rights depends on a fair distribution of political rights, and that equal opportunities should be provided to ensure the interests of the minority. Therefore, a teleological interpretation of the pursuit of happiness, while ensuring people’s equal and free access to rights, cannot ignore the interests of the disadvantaged minority or compromise the human rights of minority individuals or groups.
 
Third, taking human rights seriously. In view of the potential risks of the expansion of state and government power, it is required that the state and government should exercise restraints on power in the development and protection of human rights, and take human rights seriously within the limits of not infringing upon individual human rights. How should the government take human rights seriously? The government, when taking the pursuit of happiness as the value orientation, must adhere to the principles of equality and special protection. This means that, the government should, on one hand, respect individual human rights and needs in an equal manner; on the other, give special protection to groups with special needs. American jurist Dworkin believes that there are two basic principles in human rights: one is the principle of equality, which means, “It is important that every life should be successful without being wasted, and live a good life instead of a bad one. This is equally important for each individual who exists alone”; the other is special responsibility, which means “Everyone should have a successful life, but there is one thing, people must take the main responsibility for a successful life, that is to say, everyone is mainly responsible for the success of his life.” According to these two principles, “If the government’s behavior does not conform to these two principles, the government violates human rights”18. The government must take human rights seriously on the basis of these two principles in order to prevent the wanton exercising of power.
 
Fourth, reaching an overlapping consensus on the pursuit of happiness. The potential risks of uncertainty and contingency in the pursuit of happiness must be resolved by an overlapping consensus on the pursuit of happiness. In order to solve problems with the pursuit of happiness itself, positivism tries to examine it by means of happiness measurement, happiness index and other calculation methods, which are indeed more reasonable and practical. However, as a value in itself, human rights also have the problem of measurability. Especially in the context of globalization, value diversification and “civilization-conflict”, happiness measurement may bring many operational difficulties. Based on this, Rawls, Donnelly and other scholars put forward the idea of “overlapping consensus”. The implication conveyed by overlapping consensus lies in an overlapping consensus achieved among respective rational philosophical, religious and moral doctrines in the seeking of coexistence, that is, “consensus” becomes the view and attitude of the whole people. 
 
As Donnelly argues, “The legitimacy of the determination of the status of e ach human right and the choice of a solution to conflicts among human rights is derived not from the consistency of values but from overlapping consensus”.19 Overlapping consensus is of p rofound significance to resolving the conflict of value pluralism and highlighting its universality. Through overlapping consensus, the concept of pursuing happiness makes the value orientation of the right to a happy life clearer and the pursuit of a happy life more strongly motivated.
 
IV. Conclusion
 
In his letter to the symposium commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward the important exposition that “people’s happy life is the greatest human right”, introducing a major concept in the academic field, “the right to a happy life as a human right”. In academic research, there are two approaches to the analysis of human right value: deontology and teleology. From the perspective of teleology, the intrinsic value of human rights is manifested in the pursuit of happiness, pleasure, utility etc., which provides justification for the right to a happy life. Although the teleological interpretation
of the right to a happy life justifies the path of human rights development with Chinese characteristics and forcibly explains how to meet the “growing needs of the people for a better life” through a human rights approach, it is necessary to pay attention to the potential risks brought by the teleological interpretation and propose corresponding strategies to overcome them. This sort of improved teleological interpretation will contribute Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions to the development of the world’s human rights cause.
 
(Translated by NIU Huizi)
 
* HUANG Aijiao ( 黄爱教 ), Associate Professor of School of Marxism, Tiangong University, Adjunct Researcher and Doctor of Philosophy of the Center for Human Rights Studies, Nankai University. This paper is one of the initial achievements of the humanities and social science project of the Ministry of Education in 2019, “Research on the Evolution and Influencing Factors of the CPC’s Rights Protection Policy since the Reform and Opening up” (Project No.: 19YJCZH057).
 
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15. Hegel, Philosophy of Right (Beijing: Commercial Press, 2010), 30.
 
16. Zheng Jiagui, “Social Transformation and Value Changes in China”, Journal of Tsinghua University 1 (2010).
 
17. Rawls, “A Theory of Justice”, trans. He Huaihong et al (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 1998), 60-61.
 
18. Ronald Dworkin, Taking Human Rights Seriously (Guilin: Guangxi Normal University Press, 2013), 18-20.
 
19. Jack Donnelly, Universal Human Rights: In Theory and Practice, 3rd edition (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2013), 22.
 
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