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Debates Forum

  1. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    31 Jan '18 21:44
    The classical liberal position is greatly based on the concept of natural rights (usually life, liberty, property) coming to us through natural laws.

    But what are rights, really?

    And how can a materialist that doesn't believe in the concept of a naturally occurring right defend rights?

    Rights become merely a series of norms. Norms that receive their power only from consensus. They have no property inherent to them, and they can exist or vanish based on what is relative to the society. They're purely conventions.

    So, what do we make of rights?

    I no longer think about them. I think in terms of virtues. Virtues are far more basic and easily defensible. For instance, it is a virtue to not kill, not steal, not impose yourself. From this we can easily deduce life, liberty, and property, and we do not do so from a clumsy approach of insisting on some abstract sociopolitical convention, but we rather come to it through a moral argument with far more obvious rationale.

    The rationale also serves a more fundamental purpose: virtuous behavior, over long enough time, executed by a large amount of people, turns into the collective cultural infrastructure that literally develops the economy and society from the ground up.

    This is our fundamental flaw when we discuss the right political structure of an Iraq or an Indonesia or a Thailand... As opposed to emphasizing the idea that we must give rote democratic institutions to a people that have no social infrastructure for operating a democracy, we need to propose virtue ethics as the very means to which just and proper rule comes to a place.

    Remember the Egyptian revolution recently? The first thing they did was elect an Islamist who would impose fundamentalist and nondemocrstic perspectives because there is not actually a heritage of virtue ethics in the nation as it stands.

    Democratic rule is actually not a start point, nor are rights a start point, but virtues themselves are the starting point to obtain good society.

    They're also the method of maintaining good society. Which is why democratic institutions crumble when the virtues of the people wane. Your "rights" vanish quickly without Virties, because, really, any "rights" that you have can only exist via a consensus , and what are the sort of people that will respect your existence and freedom?

    Virtuous people.

    Thus, the goal ought to always be the same: to concentrate on the cultivation of virtue and the erasure of vice to create a society that inherently respects freedom.

    Virtue is development of the human in all his forms, while vice is his degeneration, and thus rights are dependent on virtues, as is propensity, which means that Virtue is the basis of all positive action.

    Of couese, I haven't bothered defining the specific virtues. That's another thread.
  2. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    31 Jan '18 21:49
    Rights are observed, not made up. We know there is a right to life when we see large numbers of people get fanatically outraged about arbitrary killings. We know there is a right to property when we see large numbers of people get fanatically outraged about arbitrary seizures of property. It is really very simple but very misunderstood.
  3. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    31 Jan '18 21:54
    Originally posted by @athousandyoung
    Rights are observed, not made up. We know there is a right to life when we see large numbers of people get fanatically outraged about arbitrary killings. We know there is a right to property when we see large numbers of people get fanatically outraged about arbitrary seizures of property. It is really very simple but very misunderstood.
    W hat makes that prove the existence of a right? Rather, it proves a moral outrage against injustices.

    Would there be moral outrage if the Nazi collaborators were killed? No, indeed, the mob would be leading it.

    We shouldn't deduce a highly complex political idea when we can deduce a far more basic and comprehensive simple idea: people have a sense of justice.
  4. SubscriberWajoma
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    02 Feb '18 11:33
    Originally posted by @jacob-verville
    W hat makes that prove the existence of a right? Rather, it proves a moral outrage against injustices.

    Would there be moral outrage if the Nazi collaborators were killed? No, indeed, the mob would be leading it.

    We shouldn't deduce a highly complex political idea when we can deduce a far more basic and comprehensive simple idea: people have a sense of justice.
    A right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others. A virtue IMO is closely linked to that which is moral, and that which is moral is life affirming. From here one assumes ones values.

    So you have a right to live, this is subtly different from you have a right to life. And from this premise we can see a roof is not a right, a job is not a right, a cushy life playing video games all day, smoking dope while on the dole is not a right.
  5. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    03 Feb '18 00:13
    Originally posted by @jacob-verville
    W hat makes that prove the existence of a right? Rather, it proves a moral outrage against injustices.

    Would there be moral outrage if the Nazi collaborators were killed? No, indeed, the mob would be leading it.

    We shouldn't deduce a highly complex political idea when we can deduce a far more basic and comprehensive simple idea: people have a sense of justice.
    Your comment begs the question - what is justice? Rights theory is much more specific than that.
  6. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    03 Feb '18 00:14
    Originally posted by @wajoma
    A right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others. A virtue IMO is closely linked to that which is moral, and that which is moral is life affirming. From here one assumes ones values.

    So you have a right to live, this is subtly different from you have a right to life. And from this premise we can see a roof is not a right, a job is not a right, a cushy life playing video games all day, smoking dope while on the dole is not a right.
    Not true. The right to life - or to live as you put it - is a prohibition on others killing you. It isn’t about what actions you take.
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    03 Feb '18 00:201 edit
    A right gives you the opportunity to either do something virtuous or not virtuous.

    Otherwise, there would be no personal virtue. You would simply be at the whim of a puppet master.
  8. SubscriberWajoma
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    03 Feb '18 05:37
    Originally posted by @athousandyoung
    Not true. The right to life - or to live as you put it - is a prohibition on others killing you. It isn’t about what actions you take.
    I don't see that one negates the other, by whose permission do you live? Can you explain yourself instead of stooping to zahalzi like arguing i.e. "Not true"
  9. Standard memberwolfgang59
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    03 Feb '18 09:27
    Originally posted by @wajoma
    So you have a right to live, this is subtly different from you have a right to life. And from this premise we can see a roof is not a right, a job is not a right, a cushy life playing video games all day, smoking dope while on the dole is not a right.
    Rights are given (almost by definition).
    It is up to individual societies to determine those rights.
    (And not you, as much as you would like that to be true)

    So if a caring society determines that everyone has a right
    to food, water and a roof over their head then they are rights.
  10. Subscribermoonbus
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    03 Feb '18 13:262 edits
    Originally posted by @wolfgang59
    Rights are [b]given (almost by definition).
    It is up to individual societies to determine those rights.
    (And not you, as much as you would like that to be true)

    So if a caring society determines that everyone has a right
    to food, water and a roof over their head then they are rights.[/b]
    You confuse rights and entitlements there.

    A right is a brake on government interference in the private sphere; the right to freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to peaceably assemble, etc, are all brakes on government power.

    Having a 'right' to food or a job or health care is a misnomer, the sort of nonsense typically propagated by socialists. These are properly called benefits or entitlements which a government undertakes to provide. A benefit is conditional and may be withdrawn, an entitlement is unconditional and the government may not withdraw it. That still does not make it a right, properly so called.

    Having a right to vote may seem like a benefit or an entitlement, but actually it is the most fundamental brake on unrestrained government power yet devised. Having a vote ensures that no administration can get into power without the consent of the governed, or long remain in power against the general consent.

    The classic text on rights and entitlements is By Ronald Dworkin.
  11. Subscribermoonbus
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    03 Feb '18 14:243 edits
    Originally posted by @athousandyoung
    Not true. The right to life - or to live as you put it - is a prohibition on others killing you. It isn’t about what actions you take.
    The right to life is not an entitlement to be alive. It is a brake on government power; it prohibits government bodies from depriving people of life without due process. It prohibits a king from offing people because he doesn't like them.


    The right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not mean that the govt gives you these things or owes them to you. It means that the govt may not deprive you of them without due process of law. Of course the govt may deprive you of liberty: if you break the law and are convicted, you go to prison.

    Prohibitions against ordinary people murdering each other existed thousands of years before anyone thought up the notion of rights. The notion of rights arose in 18th c. Europe and America in response to perceived excesses of monarchical power, especially in England and France. See for example Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man."
  12. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    03 Feb '18 15:15
    Originally posted by @whodey
    A right gives you the opportunity to either do something virtuous or not virtuous.

    Otherwise, there would be no personal virtue. You would simply be at the whim of a puppet master.
    I do not think that this is accurate because, even in a state where there are "no rights" (say, the Soviet Union) or some nation that doesn't have any explicit laws concerning rights (say, 18th century France), people are just a sfree as they are in a place that explicitly has rights.

    It's just a matter of what consequences they have to endure.

    But there is always freedom.

    Was it Sartre that said we are damned to be free?
  13. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    03 Feb '18 15:18
    I think there is something else fun to point out: Rights can cease very immediately.

    Not only were there internment camps for the Japanese in WWII, there were also internment camps for the Germans in WWI, that likewise resulted in massive forfeiture of assets and loss of human dignity.

    The Southern United States was occupied until the late 1870s and forced to ratify several Constitutional amendments against their will during the reconstruction.

    Indeed, in a time of crisis, suspending the basic rights of people is utterly normal.

    I think it goes iwthout saying... if they can take away your rights in a "crisis," they can really define any moment that you are doing much that they dislike as a crisis and take them away. The whole thing, sadly, begins to feel arbitrary.
  14. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    03 Feb '18 16:14
    Rights are not given, they are observed. There is no such thing as a place where people have no rights.
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    03 Feb '18 16:40
    Originally posted by @jacob-verville
    The classical liberal position is greatly based on the concept of natural rights (usually life, liberty, property) coming to us through natural laws.

    But what are rights, really?

    And how can a materialist that doesn't believe in the concept of a naturally occurring right defend rights?

    Rights become merely a series of norms. Norms that rece ...[text shortened]... action.

    Of couese, I haven't bothered defining the specific virtues. That's another thread.
    In 'we hold these truths to be self evident," I focus on "we hold" as the existential, free will choice that enshrines the stated rights.

    Of course they had a long way to go, and still do.
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