That the individual is absolute, that his or her reality must be recognized unconditionally and necessarily lies at the basis of human rights. However, some clarification is needed. What is required for each individual consists in the possi-bilities he or she has or must unfold and develop. Violence consists in individuals not being able to actualize their pos-sibilities or to open ulterior possible horizons. Human rights are addressed not only or exclusively against open, gene-ralized and declared forms of violence. More properly, they are addressed in principle against any form of everyday and hence systematic violence. Therefore, it is not necessary that there be situations of torture, of the "disappeared" or of violations of International Human Law, for there to be gene-ralized violation of human rights. Indeed that false idea led to the erroneous belief, spread broadly among social circles in the countries of the First World, that human rights typically is a problem of under development belonging exclusively to the so-called Third World. The issue of human rights is raised as a flag of caution addressed to "others" in order to mark their difference, such as for instance in dialogues between Western countries and some countries of the Middle-East or Asia.

            The big difficulty implied by the commitment to respect human rights consists in the capacity to feel for the other, for situations of human rights call not just for understanding, but for sensibility. This is so, even though the road to the founda-tions of human rights goes from understanding to sensibili-zation, not the other way round. In fact, the greater our capa-city for understanding, the greater our sensibility. The oppo-site road from greater sensibility to greater understanding is neither necessary nor wholly guaranteed because when left on its own sensibility can readily be manipulated. The recent history of propaganda and publicity provides sufficient evidence.

            There is a necessary implication in both the theoretical and the practical orders between human rights and solidarity. The combination of comprehension and sensibilization can generate an ethos. What is truly relevant regarding the prin-ciple of subsidiarity is that, relative to human rights and soli-darity, it provides the necessary tools for the "realization" of ethics. By this should be understood not that subsidiarity is the only mode of realizing ethics, but that in the ongoing state of affairs it is the most expeditious one.

            Indeed, it is characteristic of ethics -- in contrast to philosophy in general -- that it points one beyond oneself. Thus, first, to understand the world’s problems exclusively in terms of values, ideas, ends and ethical attitudes; and se-condly, to pretend that therefore the solutions to the most urgent problems of the contemporary world are to be solved exclusively or primarily on the basis of ethical tasks, be-haviors and formulations is as groundless as it is dangerous. It is in fact ineffective for ethical solutions to the problems of society and the world, though theoretically valid, are "idea-list". On the other hand, to pretend that the problems and solutions for society and the world consist exclusively in practical measures in the technical sense of the word, and in actions susceptible of tactical or strategic planing is equi-valent to an instrumentalization and a reification of human individuals. Such solutions also are equivalent to an abstrac-tion and a loss of focus on the human situation; neither is satisfactory for facing our challenges. As recent history shows it is quite the contrary: though such measures may be rela-tively effective in the short run, in the medium and long run they end up being even more damaging.

            The great problem consists then in the transition, or bridging, between the ethical problems and solutions, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the economic, political, military, administrative, and technical problems and solu-tions. In common language an expression whose value is denotative, but whose signification is far from being trans-parent is that solutions to the problems of the life-world de-pend, finally, on "political will". The accent falls on two terms: "finally", and "will". The adverb "political" refers ge-nerally to executing decisions. This context is better for understanding the importance of subsidiarity.

            Well understood, subsidiarity brings to the fore the cha-llenge of bridging between ethics and the "concrete" themes, the problems and the areas of civil society. On this plain, nothing is clarified by the framework of the multiple ten-dencies towards integration and unity found alongside the internationalization of various levels of the life of the state, civil society and individuals. The appropriate comprehension of this framework with its particularities, interdependencies and differentiations is rather a cultural and historical matter. To pretend to plead in favor of an out-and-out nationalism in any sense, or of regionalism tout court at any level whatsoever, for instance, is in practice irrational. Such is, for example, the all-out rejection of technology, the exaggerated defense of one’s own principles (read "fundamentalism"), or the overvaluing of one’s own ends or of ends tout court -- to mention but three of the most obtuse instances.

            As should be clear from the preceding chapters, there is here no quick solution, but the beginning of a series of pro-blems, and thus of a dialogue. With this all are concerned regardless of differences in occupation, participation in na-tional or international decisions making or level of education, but also regardless of belonging, with or without a certain level of responsibility, to a political, religious or civic organi-zation of civil society. The following concepts focus the cha-racteristics, challenges and realities in the triangle of human rights, solidarity and subsidiarity on the political concept of pluralism, the cultural concept of heterogeneity, the socio-logical concept of diversity, the logical concept of multi-plicity, and the ontological concept of alterity or the other-ness. In various ways these refer to one and the same field and problems. What is truly relevant about these concepts is their application, their validity and legitimacy and their reach vis-à-vis the concept of unity. But we must no longer think multi-plicity in one time (T1) and unity in another (T2), or the other way round, not even when we conceive of them, say, in mental, chronological or methodological times.

            The challenge nowadays is increasingly to be able to think and make possible at the same time both unity and multi-plicity. This is doubtless the great merit of the triangle formed by human rights, solidarity and subsidiarity which has been sketched in this text. This is not to suggest a closed field; broadly speaking the general field of work that opens before us is that of social ontology. However, fundamentally for theoretical reasons, the interest here has been to elaborate this in accord with, and in view of, an explicit thematization of the possibilities of life for individuals, society and, indeed, the world in general. The present thematization is directed toward the effort to actualize and promote those possibilities.

            In a vertiginous manner the technological and informatic processes have accelerated the processes of globalization, that is to say, of the integration and unity of the life of hu-mankind.1 The most recent explanations of this global ten-dency towards gradually forming low scale unities with a clear consciousness of the ultimate horizon of a worldwide unity points up two generic factors or present forces enabling such unity. On the one hand, there is the "invisible hand" of the market; on the other hand, there is the "visible hand" of responsible persons and units in social and political life. Doubtless, in distinction from, but together with, the "invi-sible hand" of the market, responsible political and juridical apparatuses also are needed, for the life of society depends on both. That is to say, the issue is not the life of a determined governmental regime, of a political figure, of an enterprise or of a sector of the economy. These are deceptive appearances because they have interests, whereas what is in question is the life of individuals in community, their realities and possi-bilities. At the international or world scale it is the life of glo-bal society that is, not finally, but ideally, at stake.

            Thus, the three challenges mentioned in the introduction should be read not in literal terms, in which case the mistake would be only personal, but in terms of their spirit. These three challenges can be formulated in the following questions: (a) "Who is the other", (b) "How do I relate with him or her and how am I directly or indirectly concerned with them?" and (c) "In which way do I relate with the other effectively within the framework of contemporary society." These three ques-tions have validity and meaning not only in ontogenetical terms, but also filogenetically. In other words, the problem is the same when dealing with the dialogue, relations and actions between one society and another, between one state and another, between one continent and another and, more gene-rally, between one culture and another.

            There is therefore an authentic philosophical problem regarding the comprehension and articulation of the relation between human rights, solidarity and subsidiarity. It regards the possibility of speaking meaningfully of a social, cultural or generic consciousness at the corresponding levels, for example at the national, international, and finally worldwide or global level. Whatever be the possibility of an answer by philosophy, it is necessary to point out the consequences and the real implications of these problems.

            They are not simply theoretical, or matters of preference or of preestablished interests. The repeated use by us of "the generation and/or enlarging of spaces" points to the authentic significance and implications of the whole problem. The point is to make life ever more possible at exemplary levels with criteria and standards of quality, that is, with universally de-sirable value. To understand this means to grasp that in which society, state and culture consist, both in rational and in reasonable terms.

            But life is not possible tout court, certainly not when the point is to make possible a rational and reasonable life. Though the general problem of meaning is evident here, I would direct attention to another issue: the respect and gua-rantee of human rights, the sensitized enablement of an effec-tive practice of solidarity, and the comprehension and ade-quate application of subsidiarity. All have one and the same finality, namely, to make it possible for individuals to choose freely, in their specific situations. This implies not only res-ponsibility and hence awareness that the other is always at the horizon of one’s decisions, but the development of reason or intelligence. At bottom the real subject is un-veiled as the theme of the decisions or the rational choices, the big deci-sions in life which mark our existence as well as that of others in the long and short run. These are also the small everyday choices in life, since this is the only way humans exist.

            Finally, human rights, solidarity and subsidiarity -- the three themes considered in this text -- in their specificities and reciprocal relations deal with the spaces and guarantees that enable our decisions to make sense and therefore to construct our life and our world. Multiple seams and lines of analyses could still be raised, or remain in need of further development. The analyses here require additional investigation of which these essays are but the beginning.


            1. On the basis of that tendency towards unity there is a determined metaphysics which can be drawn out clearly by a teleology of reason and natural teleology, as in the thought of Kant and Husserl where teleology plays a more fundamental role. Here it remains at the margin for it entails historical philosophical interests and the history of ideas where it might be possible to discover additional proximate sources. Though this is of high speculative value, we must omit such consi-derations in the present context. Leaving them in suspense, however, does not means that we are alien or indifferent to their possible contributions to explaining the bases upon which the tendency towards unity and integration is grounded. Here, we have concentrated only on the phenomenon of glo-balization without entering into the explanation of the causes or the reasons for its teleology.