Today is World Toilet Day, a day dedicated to calling attention to the one-third of people around the world who do not have access to flushable toilets. Campaigns like this remind those of us who take infrastructure for granted just how difficult life can be for the poor.
It is worth asking, though, not just what we can do to provide those in need with things like toilets, but whether we think people have a right to such things. While there are plenty of people around today who don’t think we have an moral obligation to help others, there are also many who go out of their way to help – not just out of charity but out of duty and a sense of justice. If everyone does have a human right to toilet access, then the rest of us have to work towards guaranteeing those rights. (Although, what each of us ought to be responsible for, in the face of others’ needs, is a different question.) Do you think that there is a human right to adequate plumbing? Do you think each person is entitled to a toilet just because they are human? If so, what follows from your conclusion?