Skip to comments.WHAT IS A RIGHT?
Posted on 08/31/2003 9:27:09 AM PDT by NMC EXP
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What you describe is the intent of the founders. Was their vision a perfect description of natural rights? e.g. does not an indentured servant have the same rights as the gentry?
No. Freedom does not exist for those who are denied freedom.
I'd say so.
"'Alone in a wilderness, the concept of a right would never occur to you... Rights only apply to beings capable of thought, capable of defining rights...'
Is this a contradiction? Why or why not?"
Given that a right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others, I'd say that the concept would almost certainly never occur to someone who was alone in the wilderness and had never been in the company of others. Without others, the issue of permission would not arise. On the other hand, it is possible that a philosophical genius would be able to think through to the concept. That status does not apply to most people.
A case could be made for disagreement that rights only apply to beings capable of defining rights. A lot hangs on the meaning of capable. Those to whom the concept of a right had never occured because they were alone in the wilderness and not capable of defining rights due to that circumstance, would still have rights applicable to them if they came in contact with others. An infant, even if not capable of thought or definition, still has a right to life. On the other hand, if capable refers to the potential or lack of it (past, present, or future) to think the thing through and come to a definition of rights, a different conclusion might be reached. On what might be the gripping hand, given that a right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others, I would not depend on going to the wilderness and trying to explain to a lion that the lion does not have that sovereignty.
"'Freedom of speech is the right to say anything you wish...'
Does this include lies? Why or why not?"
The Freedom to do something and the right to do that somehing are not the same. You may have the freedom (through the exercise of free will) to put a pistol ball through my head, but that does not mean you have the right to do so. In our society, the government may not be able censor your free speech including lies about me, but I can sue you for libel or slander after you have spread the lies because you did not have the right to do so. In some cases, good reputation is considered a property right and one has no free speech right to diminish the value of a reputation through lies.
I'm not so sure I agree with that definition. I would prefer "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual." My major objection involves the phrase "needed for living," I can have property that I don't really need for living. And my comments apply to personal property, not real property.
Aren't civil rights an extension of property rights, in that the government is an entity in which we all have joint ownership, and thus property rights to...
Depending on who "we" is and the form of government that has been established, we don't all have joint ownership of government. In the case of the US, non-citizens do not participate in joint ownership of government, but they do have civil rights in regard to trial by jury, due process and so forth. But not in regard to voting in national elections.
At least in the standard historical usage of the term, a right is something that exists simultaneously among people. A right confers no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech is something we all possess. My right to free speech imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference. Similarly, I have a right to travel freely. That right imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference.
Contrast those rights to the supposed right to decent housing or medical care. Those supposed rights do confer obligations upon others. There is no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy. If you don't have money to pay for decent housing or medical services, and the government gives you a right to those services, where do you think the money comes from?
I thought so, but it would have been better if the author had made the distinction, particularly when he started writing about statists. In some societies someone might have a civil or legal right (but not a natural right) to housing and so forth, depending upon how the society is set up.
One person's need can never constitute a claim on the resources of another.
I did not mean to say that mere need did constitute such a claim.
I wrote that they ".. may have claims ... by virtue of what for lack of a better term could be called a social contract." The Founders (some of them) had claims on each other because of the words ",,,, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Using the extension of the author's reasoning, isn't that a privilege, bestowed upon foreigners by our good graces and our desire to get revenue from tourism and foreign investment, rather than a right?
I realize that I am in grave risk of delving into symantecs. But, I think that the philosophy surrounding rights - of any kind - is fascinating, and I like to get input from anyone who is willing to give it, on every facet of the topic.
I don't think so, but I might have missed something.
Of course if a right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others, then the right to trial by jury and the right to due process are not really rights at all. They are obligations to the accused and to society.
And a lot depends on what is meant by privilege. I've seen privilege defined as a right conferred by law. I've also seen it defined as a right, advantage, exemption, power, immunity or franchise held by a person, not generally possessed by others.
I'll have to think more about this.
And I don't scorn delving into symantecs. The use of words is important in trying to convey meaning. When someone has said to me "That's just semantics," I have been know to say something like "Can I call you dipstick? After all, it's just semantics" :)
I agree. It should. It does not. Though I can find no disagreement with the author in his listing of what rights *are* he in no way offers a simple explanation of their *source*.
The closest the author comes to this revelation is in one of his closing lines: "Actual rightsthose actions to which you are *entitled by your nature* as man...."
I ask, what is my nature as a man? From what font did that nature spring?
Does evolution theory explain my rights? If the happenstance of my birth came through thousands - excuse me, millions - of years of evolution, and my life as man is pure luck of the draw according to the governing rule of survival of the fittest (over even cellular life), what claim do I have to the uniqueness of my nature? How dare I presume to set myself atop the chain of life for simply being born (with no involvement on my part) with the capacity for rational thought, a cosmic accident, biological happenstance?
Rights only apply to beings capable of thought, Fulton Huxtable asserts, capable of defining rights and creating an organized meansgovernmentof protecting such rights.
Is this why babies in utero have no right to life and may be aborted at the whim of the 'thinking' mother? Is this why the Honorable George W. Greer, Judge, Sixth Judicial Circuit, Clearwater, Florida, can rule justly that Terri Schiavo's husband may remove her feeding tube? If a man (or woman, or child) is incapable of defending his rights does he not have them?
If you (or Fulton) were to argue that those men (or women or children) who are incapable of defending their own rights due to age or disability are given assumed rights because society has made provision for their rights in law, then you are admitting that rights come from government.
I beg to differ.
Animals have thought processes. This has been proven scientifically and is irrefutable. Animals have the desire to live, and the ability to defend their lives (as men do) until that defense is countered by superior force. Thought process is not the origin of man's rights.
Man's superior ability to gather into societies and to establish government on the agreement of delineated rights, and for the protection of these, does not explain the *source* of man's rights - *unless* you or Fulton Huxtable is arguing that *the agreement of what rights are* is itself the source?
I beg to differ with that, too.
As I see it, you have three choices in naming the Source of your rights:
1) God - absolute and unchanging, according to His revealed will by His Word
2) Government - whimsical enforcement by the Power du jour
3) Your personal declaration - rationally indefensible.
I can't believe I am in agreement with you.
NMC - That question has been the source of good debates.
LiberationIT oughta just own to the the truth: he wasn't up to the challenge. He can not name nor can he defend the source of his rights; he can only proclaim what those rights are, as Fulton Huxtable has done, as though the proclamation itself gives logical defense of the rights of man.
You confuse rights with the freedom to exercise those rights.
There is a difference.
The notion of "Freedom of Speech" is only a contract between the government and the individual. You say that speaking your mind can get you fired, but that is between the employer and the individual, not the government. If your employer doesn't like what you say, why shouldn't they be able to fire you, the Constitution doesn't give you a right to a job.