Natural Rights

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by joeyd999, May 6, 2013.

  1. joeyd999

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    This is probably the single most destructive thought that most men have had since the dawn of civilization, and has directly led to the servitude, suffering, impoverishment, and death of untold millions of humans throughout history.

    Denial of the existence of natural rights does not cause them not to exist, just as denial that the world is a sphere does not make it flat. The concept of natural rights is an axiom. They exist, regardless of one's (or a civilization's) intellectual evasions to the contrary.

    The existence of natural rights is what gives meaning to life beyond mere survival and procreation (which, boiled down to the essentials, is the purpose of all non-sentient beings). To acknowledge natural rights is to acknowledge the value of one's own life. To deny them is to deny the value of one's own life, and, ultimately, to accept death as the final value.

    IMHO, the words “God given” and “inalienable” are redundant. Though I am an atheist, I still refer to rights as “God given” for those who cannot accept the concept of natural rights existing without an ultimate source. If they wish to believe that their natural rights are a gift from a benevolent God, more power to them, and I am happy to have them on my side -- as long as they don't rely on such beliefs to justify the deprivation of my own rights.

    It is the existence of natural rights that justify the defensive use of force to protect one's own life and property. It is also the only means men have to objectively label the offensive use of force immoral. If such rights were bestowed and withdrawn only at the whims of others, then no one would have standing to object when their lives were subjugated. The very founding of the United States of America would have been an immoral undertaking.

    To reject the existence of natural rights is to accept that your life has no meaning, except to live in servitude to other men. To accept to live -- or die -- at their pleasure. To accept that your property, and your life, belongs to you, for so long as they don't decide that it belongs to them. And, ultimately, to accept evil over good.

    Footnote:

    Many of the ideas expressed above are drawn from the works of Ayn Rand, the founder of the Objectivist philosophy. IMHO, she is one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century – Rand, to me, is to philosophy as Albert Einstein is to physics. Rand has her critics, many of whom argue that even Rand herself couldn't live up to all the tenets of the philosophy she espoused. But to say that one cannot be an Objectivist if he does not practice all of its ideals is like saying one cannot be a Christian if they don't live like Christ.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  2. Wendy

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    It is an opinion. Opinion's differ.

    History tends to show other, the United States was something unique when it was formed.
     
  3. joeyd999

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    How correct you are!

    Thanks for the thread bump, Bill. Just trying to stoke the dying flames of Enlightenment...
     
  4. Georacer

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    Flames have been stoked (stoken?).

    I, for one, lie in agreement with WBahn. I believe that rights and the notion of good comes with the social contract that the members of each society sign consciously or otherwise.
     
  5. joeyd999

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    So let's test this with a though experiment:

    Let's say Georacer is a member of a society with ten individuals. Their social contract, agreed upon unanimously, is that all actions of the society will be governed by a democratic vote of all the members. For a while, all things go just swimmingly, and everyone is happy.

    Then, one day there is a shortage of food. The community comes together to decide what to do to survive. They take a vote, and they decide, 9 to 1, that Georacer, being the "plumpest" of the group, would make a decent meal.

    So they cook him and carve him up (which is their "right" to do so because they all agreed as per their social contract).

    Afterward, they convene another meeting, and agree that Georacer was tasty. So, not only was eating him a "right", it was "good" too!
     
  6. bountyhunter

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    The problem with using the concept of "God given rights" is that it always gets warped and spun when each group insists that it is the rights given by THEIR God, which of course then leads to war. The other problem is that the same disconnect is the tool most frequently used to dehumanize other races because they don't believe in the TRUE God....

    I am a Christian, but I have a big problem with "God given rights" being used depending on who is using it and what their purpose is. For example, right now in the USA there is a strong push to try to "codify into law" the notion that our country is a "Christian nation"..... when, in reality, our founding fathers took great care to keep religion out of our government.

    I think all humans should be given basic human rights. I just think we need to keep the name of God out of it because history shows us what that leads to.
     
  7. bountyhunter

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    A pretty eloquent argument for the second amendment and summary of the problem we now have:

    If an individual surrenders the responsibility for his own safety to "the majority (government)" he gets what he deserves..... or, he gets whatever they decide to give him.

    I suspect the founding fathers would be screaming in disgust if they saw what this country had morphed into, which is basically a lot of fat, lazy people who have no problem surrendering their liberties to the central government. That comes with a risk, as in your example.
     
  8. Georacer

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    We have heard of cannibalistic societies before, that's not new, but rare still.

    I think the reason why societies usually don't eat their members is because we spend too much time with each other and invest in each other emotionally that it is a very bad trade-off to sacrifice each other in general. Especially for food, it's a very unsanitary thing to do, as far as I can look up online.

    I 'm not saying that one's perception of "good" and "right" is a fluent one. It is usually fixed throughout one's life. But throughout generation those notions can fluctuate.

    Having slaves and whipping them for breakfast, or marrying one's uncle or first cousin are things unheard of, far fetched and unimaginable nowadays. But it wasn't always like this.

    Finally, it would seem that some values are held throughout time and history, such as honour for the ancestors and belief in a true law. I attribute those to constant needs of all human societies that invent those values for their needs.
     
  9. Georacer

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    This is a beautiful philosophical argument. Please try to keep religion and politics out of it, in the extend that it is possible.
     
  10. tshuck

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    You are mixing up the idea if social contract and a governing body.

    The social contract would be the agreement that all members of the society agree to maintain a set of rules regarding each individual, in exchange for collective benefits for the whole. The rules are generally called "rights" because that is what the constituents agreed to in order to be in the society, and are guaranteed by being in that society.

    In your example, the individual is violated, regardless of how it may benefit the whole.
     
  11. Georacer

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    Of course, rights always come paired with obligations.

    In your example, I had the right to belong in the said society, with all the benefits that brings, but knowing that in time of need, I may be sacrificed for the rest to keep living.

    As a matter of fact, this notion isn't all that strange, even to us today. Acts of heroism usually consist of one renouncing his rights for the greater good, even outside of a social contract.
    But in more conformal background, even though from written witnesses, examples exist:
    A primal tribe's brutal trial in order to acquire adult privileges.
    An ancient Spartan's sentiment of duty towards his city, with the price of his life.
    A medieval champion's offer to fight for his master.
     
  12. joeyd999

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    Who is in charge of bestowing those rights, and under what authority?
     
  13. joeyd999

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    Geo, I cannot believe you took my scenario literally. It's a thought experiment.

    But, figurative human sacrifice occurs quite routinely. Not just in the third world, but right here in the good ol' USA.

    And, to be clear, the evils you mentioned in your post do still occur to this day...mostly in the third world.
     
  14. joeyd999

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    Are you quite sure?

    And what happens when the rules interfere with the benefits desired by a majority of the society?

    By whom? Can they change their mind? If not, why not?

    Violated by what standard?
     
  15. tshuck

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    Yes, I an quite sure, social contracts cannot be swayed by majority ruling.

    Simply voting something to be law does not make it correct.

    By the same logic, under a monarchy, a king may declare anyone with the name Ethyl to be killed and that would be just. Petiole do not enter into social contact for anything other than self benefit.


    The rights would be violated by the agreement that all members agreed to in the name of self preservation. To change their mind would require all members of the social contract to agree to the new rules.
     
  16. joeyd999

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    What if the original contract did not enumerate a right to not be cannibalized? What if a super-majority decided to revise the original contract to allow cannibalism?
     
  17. joeyd999

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    Example please.
     
  18. WBahn

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    And herein you've just made my point. You want to claim that Georacer had some "God given" right that can't be taken away at the whim of the society in which he was a member. Yet you then demonstrated that it very much CAN be taken away at the whim of the society in which he was a member just as thoroughly as anything else. Hence, the notion that he has some God given, inalienable right was an illusion.

    Earlier you said that "Denial of the existence of natural rights does not cause them not to exist". But, by the same token, a declaration of the existence of natural rights does not cause them TO exist, either.

    Now, if you want to argue that there are certain fundamental rights that all people SHOULD have, and that governments should be instituted among people primarily to protect and ensure them AS fundamental rights among those people, then I am all on board.
     
  19. tshuck

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    No one would agree to be a part of a society in which the one is sacrificed for the good of the whole unless there is a belief that there is a better reward for doing so.

    You tell me, is it right to kill someone based off of a majority vote? No one would agree to that without extenuating circumstances, showing that there is an inherent, understood agreement by which people live in a society.
     
  20. tshuck

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    Can your right to life be voted away, outright?
     
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