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Author Topic: Inalienable Rights  (Read 8984 times)
MAM
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« on: August 30, 2013, 11:18:48 PM »

I've noticed a propensity for minarchists and even anarchists to claim that rights are inalienable given to us by magic. Even if you want to say that rights are magic and we always have them even if they aren't recognized and/or are violated, what bearing does that have on reality?

Personally I don't think rights are magic, they're useful concepts but they don't exist, and the reality is if you can't defend yourself sufficiently to insure them (as yet we can't) you don't have them.

Lots of people whine about "rights" and police brutality and I wonder if this kind of activism actually accomplishes anything. Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2013, 02:37:13 AM »

    Hey, I’m new here. I pretty much just made an account to reply to this. I’m interested in this subject and if a conversation is going to happen, I wanted to add my two cents. Excuse my verbose nature, and I apologize if this isn't well or clearly written. It’s late, I’m exhausted, and I’m sick, so my brain isn't operating at 100% right now.
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    1. You are correct in that rights bear no physical “reality”; they aren't miniature shields or anything of the sort. We speak of rights as objects, and therefore we expect them to present themselves as such in reality. This is a fault of language. It seems the poorly articulated conclusion of most natural rights theorists (or at least my interpretation of them) is that rights are moral claims, and nothing more. However, the claims associated with rights can be derived logically by observing nature and how man interacts with it (and with each other).
    As reasoning beings, our conduct derives from values we determine after gathering data from our surroundings via observation. Rights are nothing more than what can be logically deduced to be the best value code in that it maximizes “prosperity” (loaded term; sorry). I won’t sit here and rehash any of the natural-rights arguments that you can find in anarchist/libertarian books, as I'm sure you've read them, but simply put, a “right” is a term we use to describe a moral code that, if followed, provides individuals with the greatest betterment. The right to property, for example, does not imply that there is some magical force in your property that makes it “yours,” or that prevents theft.  It simply indicates that the only logical, moral conduct by dictate of nature is to respect and honor your property claim, and that to do otherwise is naturally immoral. That's the extent of the meaning of "rights."
    When a person proclaims, “I have rights!” What (s)he is saying is, “I am a reasoning being, and based upon that fact and upon the arguments derived from the nature of man and his surroundings, the action you are committing against me is immoral.” But that’s a bit lengthy, so we’ve injected this concept of fundamental immorality to the word “rights.” You are correct in your analysis that without defense, there is no way to stop violations/aggression. This does not negate the fact that the action is immoral, however, which is why we claim that rights exist even when unprotected. This is also why so many cling to government – they fear that without a guaranteed source of “free” security, they will have NO security and therefore be open to immoral aggression. The implications of your analysis are also correct. Talk of rights (morality) in the face of tyranny will not destroy tyranny. The tyrants are still immoral, so rights are still existent as a strictly moral code, but talk of rights/morality will not stop the wrongdoer, and will be no more life-saving than shouting “I can fly!” before jumping off a cliff.
    However, widespread recognition of the morality derived from nature could lead to statelessness. Just because the concept of rights doesn’t inherently defend you from immediate harm, it can indirectly do so through education, and is therefore terribly valuable in discussion with others.

    2. “The reality is if you can't defend yourself sufficiently to insure them… you don't have them.” Because rights are not physical, they cannot be had or possessed, so in a way, you are absolutely correct. All this talk of giving or taking rights is unhelpful; rights are not objects or magic fairy dust. Right is a fancy word for “moral code.” No one has rights. You don’t own a moral code, or give it as a Christmas gift. Regardless of whether I can defend myself, if a man sexually assaults me, he has committed an immoral act. That is ALL I mean when I speak of rights – that an immoral “line,” a line based on the observation of nature and the application of logic to those observations, has been crossed. There is nothing magical about that notion.

    3. “Lots of people whine about "rights" and police brutality and I wonder if this kind of activism actually accomplishes anything. Thoughts?” The fact that the hatred of police brutality is so widespread is probably a good thing (though "whining" rarely helps anyone). So much of the state’s violence is not recognized as violence by the public, which is why police brutality is unique: people can see it for precisely what it is – an overreach of authority. Awareness of the obvious aggression of the state can only help our cause, so I don't mind the attention it gets, if that's what you're asking.
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2013, 02:42:22 AM »

I suppose I could have shortened that greatly by simply saying I both agree and disagree.

I disagree in asserting that rights DO exist, because rights are just moral claims, and moral claims exist. But I agree strongly that, ultimately, that doesn't amount to anything beyond a claim (meaning shouting about it is sort of a moot point) unless you are capable of defending it.
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albert h n
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2013, 08:02:34 AM »

I like arguing economics because it is more of a science and there are ways to judge accuracy. It is supposed to be value free and not to require ethical judgments.

Philosophy is not like that. There is no Supreme encyclopedia in the sky that lists the right philosophy or the wrong philosophy and there is no celestial supreme court of philosophers. Therefore philosophical arguments can go on forever and every argument in a sense can be the right argument.
So when it comes to "natural rights" that is how the conversations will go.

But "natural law" is the concept that reasonable beings can use their reason and come to some conclusions that certain things are just plain true for everybody based on what we know now.

So, long ago it was believed that the King or Pharaoh was a god and above the law and all citizens were his property.
Since then man's reason has evolved to recognize that no man can be another man's property and that what's his is his. (long arguments continue about property)
But pretty much everybody having done a little research would agree from the day you are born, your neighbor or your president does not have the right to come confiscate your fingers or your organs.
(and it does not matter if that baby agrees or understands it.)
Such ethical judgements, you are correct, fall in the field of morality- but the utterly accepted ones, the universal ones can be called rights (just a vocabulary term)
Some are inalienable because NO current or future state has the right to take them away.
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KaFunf
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2013, 09:21:15 AM »

"their is no Supreme encyclopedia in the sky" I like that.

I look at it from the point of view that life is "sacred".
I am alive and my being is independent from everything else and I own that. I also own whatever I create from that provided I don't fuck with anybody else's persuit of their happiness. I like to think that life is the inalienable cohesion that connects everybody equally to everybody else. All of mankind is different with various strengths and weakness determined by our genetics. So some may reach their goals faster then others because they have been born with greater potential to do so. Is inalienable rights some magical thing impressed upon our consciousness by birth? Rationally no. Are inalienable rights given when we write them down and bestow them as some kind of privilege? I don't like that either.  We can get a piece of paper to give us title to property but we don't need one for ourselves.

I imagine my views can be blown up a number of different ways but that OK as the topic is something I'm still banging round my head so is oPen to modification.
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2013, 01:23:30 PM »

"But "natural law" is the concept that reasonable beings can use their reason and come to some conclusions that certain things are just plain true for everybody based on what we know now... Such ethical judgements, you are correct, fall in the field of morality- but the utterly accepted ones, the universal ones can be called rights (just a vocabulary term)"

I like how you said this. It is a much clearer manner of articulating what I was trying to say. I feel like a lot of people get confused because they expect rights to be "something," but they aren't; they are just naturally-deduced moral judgments.
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MAM
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2013, 01:27:41 PM »

"But "natural law" is the concept that reasonable beings can use their reason and come to some conclusions that certain things are just plain true for everybody based on what we know now... Such ethical judgements, you are correct, fall in the field of morality- but the utterly accepted ones, the universal ones can be called rights (just a vocabulary term)"

I like how you said this. It is a much clearer manner of articulating what I was trying to say. I feel like a lot of people get confused because they expect rights to be "something," but they aren't; they are just naturally-deduced moral judgments.

There are no universally agreed upon "rights"... I think the case can be made that the idea of negative rights are based on private property (meaning without property the other rights don't exist) yet property is a contested issue.
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2013, 01:41:11 PM »

"There are no universally agreed upon "rights"... I think the case can be made that the idea of negative rights are based on private property (meaning without property the other rights don't exist) yet property is a contested issue."

No, there is no necessarily agreed-upon definition of morality. But to say that because not everyone agrees on the best code one doesn't exist is akin to saying that just because a group of students all give different answers on a test, there is no best answer. The idea is that whether you agree with it or not, there is a certain manner of conduct that is best for our species, and we call this code of conduct "rights," and that code is derived from observing the natural world.

"Property" is no more a contested issue than any OTHER issue concerning morality, once you get outside anarchist thought. That again does not negate what natural rights theorists are trying to claim - that the best system is to respect negative rights associated with the definition of private property that makes the most logical sense after observing nature.

Whether it is universally agreed upon is irrelevant to whether it is universally applicable for our species.

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MAM
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2013, 01:57:05 PM »

If people are individuals which they are there is no such thing as a universally applicable code of mores. For example there is strong evidence to suggest that prehistoric man was polyamorous yet most people have the idea that monogamy is the way to go.

Prehistoric hunter gatherers the world over were egalitarian anti proprietarians. Hunter gatherer tribes today are the same way.

I agree that a thing doesn't need to be agreed upon to be true. But morality isn't an objective thing. It's a common thing to see libertarians argue that it is. But it isn't. Things like a^2+b^2=c^2 or the Law of Sines, or Gravity are objective. Unless you're going to be basing your morality on mathematics something I don't think is possible it isn't objective.

If we are to observe the world around us and come to conclusion based upon that; which do we watch the bonobos or the chimpanzees?
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"A stone is heavy and the sand is weighty but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both"-Tuek

"Knowledge is power, and it's light weight. The more you know the less you need."-Cody Lundin

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Deciding on Lunch."-Davi Barker
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2013, 02:25:32 PM »

Woah, you are misunderstanding me here!

If people are individuals which they are there is no such thing as a universally applicable code of mores. For example there is strong evidence to suggest that prehistoric man was polyamorous yet most people have the idea that monogamy is the way to go.

The “universal” moral claims I am talking about DO NOT include “personal preferences” such as monogamy, polygamy, etc. There are indeed cultural aspects to morality that vary, or even vary by individual. This cannot be denied. What I am saying is this: whatever your moral code, there is one underpinning of morality (don't harm or steal) that makes the most sense for the species homo sapiens to follow. The fact that people don’t see it, misunderstand it, or try to add irrelevant things like "monogamy" or "polygamy" to it does nothing to negate its existence. How many people you marry is irrelevant to aggression or natural morality.

Prehistoric hunter gatherers the world over were egalitarian anti proprietarians. Hunter gatherer tribes today are the same way.

Not sure why this is relevant. The “universal” moral I’m talking about is don’t commit acts of aggression. You can be “egalitarian” and “anti-proprietarian” and still understand this.

I agree that a thing doesn't need to be agreed upon to be true. But morality isn't an objective thing. It's a common thing to see libertarians argue that it is. But it isn't. Things like a^2+b^2=c^2 or the Law of Sines, or Gravity are objective. Unless you're going to be basing your morality on mathematics something I don't think is possible it isn't objective. 

Again, you are stuck thinking about morality in confused ways. Maybe you are struggling to separate the “religious” connotations from the word? Morality is just a code of conduct that works best for our species, and it CAN be determined by observation, just as we can determine from observation that the earth is round. The fact that we come to conclusions about it by looking at the nature of man, we can deduce that so long as man acts under that nature, this moral code will always be the best one. The point of natural rights is that, across the spectrum, one set of principles always seems to apply (pertaining to aggression against person and property). Now, more can be tacked onto that. As a result of cultural or religious influences, people can add stuff like, “it is wrong to marry 20 people,” etc., but that has nothing to do with the objective aspects of morality, because stuff like that can't be objectively determined, and therefore has no real place among natural rights.

If we are to observe the world around us and come to conclusion based upon that; which do we watch the bonobos or the chimpanzees? What are you talking about? We observe neither, seeing as we are neither bonobos NOR chimpanzees. We are human beings – a distinct species. We observe other human beings, and how we interact with our environment.
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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2013, 02:33:10 PM »

The crux of our misunderstanding comes down to this: I assert that by looking at human nature in conjunction with the environment, there is a moral code of conduct that will work "best," and should always apply (and that is what I refer to when I use the word rights). I think regardless of who you are or when you were born, murdering an innocent is always morally wrong. You, on the other hand, assert that no such code exists. Because we are operating from different basic assumptions, I fear we are not going to come to a real conclusion concerning this topic.
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2013, 02:39:41 PM »

But I am interested in asking: my reasons for opposing the state are obviously moral in nature. What are yours? I'd be interested to hear about them.
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MAM
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2013, 03:52:57 PM »

But I am interested in asking: my reasons for opposing the state are obviously moral in nature. What are yours? I'd be interested to hear about them.

The pillar of my ethics is the NAP. I oppose the State for a variety of reasons. 1. I don't think that murdering people is a moral act (people disagree obviously) 2. I'm not a fan of inefficiency, and I'm not a fan of being told what to do. 3. Power corrupts so no one should have it legitimately.

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We observe neither, seeing as we are neither bonobos NOR chimpanzees. We are human beings – a distinct species. We observe other human beings, and how we interact with our environment.
So then do we observe Amazonian tribes (some of which have had close to 0 contact with modern man, and I'm sure that there are tribes in existence that we don't know about). Or do we observe Western culture?

Quote
What I am saying is this: whatever your moral code, there is one underpinning of morality (don't harm or steal) that makes the most sense for the species homo sapiens to follow
What exactly do base this assertion on? If you don't have property theft isn't a thing. Violence is inefficient but some people think that killing others is a moral act. I mean there are philosophies dedicated to subjugating people and whilst I find these philosophies abhorrent and hideous these philosophies currently dominate the globe. How can it be claimed that the NAP is the best moral code when clearly adherents to the NAP are few and far between... I'm not saying it isn't the best merely that the claim that it is, is unsubstantiated.

Quote
The crux of our misunderstanding comes down to this: I assert that by looking at human nature in conjunction with the environment, there is a moral code of conduct that will work "best," and should always apply (and that is what I refer to when I use the word rights).
What does "best" mean? It seems like that depends on your goals. We probably have similar goals, but that hardly applies to the rest of humanity.

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I think regardless of who you are or when you were born, murdering an innocent is always morally wrong.
Have you heard of the Vikings? Their culture was based around pillaging people. Your claim here is incorrect.

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Maybe you are struggling to separate the “religious” connotations from the word?
Religious, Randian, it doesn't matter.
 
Quote
Not sure why this is relevant. The “universal” moral I’m talking about is don’t commit acts of aggression. You can be “egalitarian” and “anti-proprietarian” and still understand this.
If people don't agree on property they're going to disagree about what qualifies as aggression. In fact the primary divide between capitalist and socialist anarchists is property. Of course this disagreement can be traced back to the negative vs positive rights debate.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2013, 04:12:46 PM by MAM » Logged

"A stone is heavy and the sand is weighty but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both"-Tuek

"Knowledge is power, and it's light weight. The more you know the less you need."-Cody Lundin

"Hey... it's a haiku

Democracy is
Two Zombies and a Sheriff
Deciding on Lunch."-Davi Barker
MAM
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2013, 03:57:52 PM »

Chimps and Bonobos are within a couple percent of humanity genetically. There is debate about whether or not they should belong to our genus i.e. Homo or if we should belong to theirs i.e Pan or if it should stay the same.

The point is that they are close to our genetic make up so it's possible that by observing them we can acquire clues to our past.

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"A stone is heavy and the sand is weighty but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both"-Tuek

"Knowledge is power, and it's light weight. The more you know the less you need."-Cody Lundin

"Hey... it's a haiku

Democracy is
Two Zombies and a Sheriff
Deciding on Lunch."-Davi Barker
KaFunf
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« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2013, 04:51:53 PM »

Personally I don't think rights are magic, they're useful concepts but they don't exist, and the reality is if you can't defend yourself sufficiently to insure them (as yet we can't) you don't have them.

I think it is true that with the existence of the State their is no way to be truly free regardless of what you think your rights are.

I live my life doing what I want which entails working around state laws. I have no problem breaking the law if it betters my life. At the same time their is some risk in that and working outside the system limits things like credit.   

Lots of people whine about "rights" and police brutality and I wonder if this kind of activism actually accomplishes anything. Thoughts?

I think anything that questions the states monopoly of violence is a good thing. People twenty years ago trusted the police. Not so much today. Antonio's Peaceful Street project that films cops and hold them accountable to the public is a good thing.

College degrees bestow "honors, rights and privileges" on those whose education is acquired and accredited through the State. The State claims the power to interpret honor, rights and privileges through our constitution. Eliminating the State returns "honor, rights and privileges' back to the individual and to the community.

My ethics are a combination of Humanism and natural law. I don't think it's possible to have a moral objective "foundation" to build an inalienable rights argument upon since all interpretations will be subjective to the individual. But I like NAP and the idea of inalienable rights and weave those things into my world view.
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