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Natural Rights: useful fiction
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Billy Beck asks an absurd question...
"Your rights and mine are only as objectively valuable as we mutually agree they are."
(The abject moron, Henke)
[...]
If he were confronting his own murderer, how consistently do you think he would stand on this socially-constructed notion (that's all it is) of "rights" and its component of "agree[ment]"?
Billy Beck is welcome to defend himself against murderers with his "natural rights". I'd use a gun.

Meanwhile, one of Beck's charming friends, John Sabotta, writes a post at No Treason entitled "Five Grams In The Back Of Jon Henke's Head". Sabotta relates the story of a Soviet prisoner who was executed in 1934. No doubt, his 'natural rights' comforted him to the very end. Unfortunately, they didn't actually help him.

Which brings me back to my question: what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?
 
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"What’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?"
The acceptance of the concept of natural rights, of natural law, provides an implicit description of universal rightful bounds of human behavior which provides for the greatest health, wealth, and happiness of the greatest number of people. Put simply, in generally agreed on scales of utility, it outcompetes all other notions of the proper relation between governed and the governing.

If there are no rights at all, then the most compelling bound you can place on what violence other men raise against is is what force you can raise against them, or what violence providers you can ally yourselves with (more commonly in history, swear unfailing abject obedience to). When the concept of human right are accepted by a society, then far fewer people will attempt to raise violence against you as a solution to their wants, and everyone’s person and property are the more secure.

In fact more secure than they have ever been in human history.

Additionally, it encourages what has been called the "Protestant Work Ethic", a universally potential societal trait, I think of any being sentient as we are sentient, best brought out by the successful promulgation of human rights.

The human condition is universal, and human rights or natural law—when confined to the original "negative rights" view—is the best answer to it.

And to another degree:
"What’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?"
At this point in history, you’re a hopeless case if you have to ask.

I’m reminded by this question and the recent Narnia movie of my favorite line in the whole series:
"They’re so afraid of being taken in, that they cannot be taken out."
Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"against is is" /= "against you is" Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
What you describe is a consequentialist argument for a social cooperation strategy that includes a system of rights and obligations among participants. I agree with that. I think it’s productive.

However, that is a utilitarian calculation, not a natural law. I’ve no problem at all with the idea that we’ve developed an evolutionary tendency to productive social cooperation strategies that include deference to other individuals through what we call "negative rights". I think such an evolutionary development is a wonderful thing and ought to be encouraged. (which makes me wonder why Beck/Sabatto/et al are so upset about the whole thing)

What I don’t think is that these evolutionary developments have any consequence absence our interest in adopting and enforcing them.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Which brings me back to my question: what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?

When enough people believe in a Natural Right, it will no longer be powerless.

 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
A "natural right" and about $1 get you a cup of decent coffee at Panera...However, the CONCEPT of Natural Rights, especially the Lockean/Western idea, get you one heck of a society. Bottom-Line: in the short-run get a gun, in the long-run develop a theory of natural rights. Each are valid conclusions within their time frame and neither is mutually exclusive.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
When enough people believe in a Natural Right, it will no longer be powerless.
Very true. The same can be said of god, too. The reality, in either case, is the individual choice, though.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"However, that is a utilitarian calculation, not a natural law."
What best and well describes the available data can be thought of as a natural law. Why do you seem to insist that a natural right should be "self enforcing", as is gravity, in order to be real—when gravity itself is known to be incompletely understood and itself the consequence of naturals laws more true and more fundamental? By your standards, Newton’s laws should be laughed at as fictions, but I’ll bet you do not fear to cross most bridges. Spherical trigonometry is symbols on paper, but a good enough representation of the real world that ships and planes can navigate by it.

The validity of E = mc^2 is also a utilitarian calculation, what’s more, it’s one known to not truly describe what’s going on the real world.

"Natural Law", "Human Rights", these have the advantage over other such natural laws that there is no experimental data contradicting them, the whole of human history confirms them without exception.
"What I don’t think is that these evolutionary developments have any consequence absence our interest in adopting and enforcing them."
They are not evolutionary, they are revelationary. It has always been true that humanity will best dispose its affairs by respecting the natural humans rights of its fellow humans, we just happened to realize the pre-existing fact around 250 or so years ago.
"(which makes me wonder why Beck/Sabatto/et al are so upset about the whole thing)"
Because of all other known approaches to organizing societies of more than one person, everything else has distinct, and generally to date murderous drawbacks.

Why denigrate what works best?

Your alternative seems to be a world of bleary eyed people always sleeping with one eye open because any one else has as much right to kill you and take your stuff as you have to keep it, and more right if they are stronger, faster, or luckier. The bleary eyedness, of course, gets better once you find a keeper. They used to be called nobles, you’d probably be serf, even if you weren’t you all have higher stress, harder lives.

At least, that’s one way other than human rights that societies have shaken out, and none are a lot better.

To Beck/Sabatto/et al, it seems as if you are proposing a re-adoption of the phlogiston theory of fire, with the added drawback that if successful, you’ll get hundreds of millions of people killed. Ideas matter, and your idea is a bad.

Very bad.

I reiterate:
"At this point in history, you’re a hopeless case if you have to ask."
Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"Why do you seem to insist that a natural right should be "self enforcing", as is gravity"

And you know, to look at the sweep of human history, the human rights view of natural law IS self-enforcing.

All societies organized around other principles have been far less productive, happy, and more fragile.

So what’s fictional about it?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Jon is on your side as far as the organization of society. Please stop misunderstanding this. He’s all for the enforcement of negative rights, as am I.

But the idea that rights are "natural"... come on, people. These rights don’t stop anyone from violating them unless somebody who [i]believes[/i] in them does something to stop said violation. You rely on other people to stop that murderer from infringing no your right to life and liberty. If they aren’t around, "natural" rights are as good as the sound of a tree falling in a forest, or the value of a dollar if no one believes it’s worth anything.

If such rights really existed objectively, why build a Justice system? Why a Constitution? Why police, and why prisons?
The truth is that our conception of rights is a contract between all applicable parties. You have rights not because God will come down and smite those who wrong you, but by consent of your fellow man.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Damn. Forgot to switch my brain over to HTML. Damn UBB code...
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
"What’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?"
At this point in history, you’re a hopeless case if you have to ask.
If you procede from the premise that man formed societies and then invented rights as guarantees, you come to the conclusion that Jon has reached.

It allows you the strawman argument that without society’s enforcement and man’s acquiecence there are no rights since man alone can’t guarantee them. To my knowledge, no one who is a proponent of the concept of natural rights argues that the rights are guarantees. They are, instead, universal moral claims. That’s an important distinction.

So, if, instead, you procede from the premise that natural rights are moral claims (and not guarantees) which are inherent in the natural needs and requirements of rational man (a moral agent) and man forms societies as the best method to guarantee those claims, you come to an entirely different conclusion as to the inherency of natural rights.

If your procede from the first premise, that natural rights are a fiction dependent upon society to acknowlede and guarantee them, you completely remove the moral component, which is key, from the concept. You also remove moral agency as a part of man’s nature. He becomes nothing more than society’s actor, completly at the mercy of the arbitrary whims of his society with no inherent moral claims.

If you believe rights are nothing more than a societal invention, then you tacitly agree that whatever rights any society grants (or doesn’t) are implicity fine with you. After all, you’ve ceded to "society" the job of granting them (or not). That also means you grant society the right to take them away.

That removes the universal moral claims inherent in man’s existance as a rational creature (such as his right to his life and property) from consideration. Each society is thus morally free to do whatever it so desires as concern’s those living under it’s power. Thus, under that premise, Stalin’s gulags and Pol Pot’s killing fields are morally neutral since they simply reflect those societies differing views concerning "rights" and what they are willing or not willing to guarantee.

Consequently, there can be no moral outrage from those who believe in this formulation of rights granted by society. When the societies noted act in a way in which you don’t agree, the best argument you can muster is you don’t agree with their formulation, but, since you’ve explicitly granted and ceded to society the right to give and take rights (under this formulation they’re really privileges), you haven’t a moral leg to stand on.

Your argument is reduced to one of formulary disagreement, nothing more. As noted, since the moral component has been ceded, you have absolutely no grounds on which to protest their behavior.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Now to be fair, I can see what I think is the "flaw" in the "natural rights" hypothesis or natural law that has Jon so hung up. He’s simply made a mistake about what the law and it’s scope is.

Gravity, explanations of it known to be as flawed as they are, always works in the manner of being self enforcing in each individual test case.

On earth, a dropped rock onto still air falls at about 32.2ft per sec per sec. It happens anytime you drop a rock under those circumstances.

If you as an individual have natural rights, for example on to life, then how could someone murder you? Shouldn’t bullets stop inches from your skin and fall harmlessly?

No. Of course not.

Natural rights are an approach to the bounds of rightful interaction that describe how societies can best be arranged, with respect to who can rightfully do what to whom. It is intended to describe sometimes unattained ideals in the interaction between individuals, and these ideals may not be realized. But since likely outcomes in the aggregate is what the "law of natural human rights" is intended to describe, then they stand unimpeached by the fact bullets do not bounce off of believers in the same.

Jon mistakes each individual interaction as being the discrete an dentire scope of the phenomenon natural law describes—by which measure it fails quite miserably, quite often—from the mistaken "bullet stopping" perspective*.
*Of course, from what the real scope is of the "natural law of human rights", it is valid and self enforcing. A person who goes around making other people stop bullets is the worse off for it in aggregate, and so is the society around him. Additionally, all involved are the worse off for it whether they are aware of or "believers" in natural rights or not, so it also NOT a contruct of the mind or a "socially constructed" thing, but natural law revealed by observation; and—in the case of most of human history, grim experimentation at that.
Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"example on to" /= "example one to"
"an approach to the bounds" /= "an approach to describing the bounds"
"discrete an dentire" /= "discrete and entire"

McQ wrote:

"As noted, since the moral component has been ceded, you have absolutely no grounds on which to protest their behavior."

No. You assert the moral component has "been ceded", you have not shown it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"No. You assert the moral component has "been ceded", you have not shown it."

And on rereading his post, McQ isn’t quite addressing my views either, so I could have better kept my finger off the kybd for the last half of that post.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
It allows you the strawman argument that without society’s enforcement and man’s acquiecence there are no rights since man alone can’t guarantee them.
Of course "man alone" can guarantee them. At least, inasmuch as society can do so — i.e., so long as he’s more powerful than an opposing interest. That’s why, in the Beck illustration, I’d have chosen a gun over a right.
They are, instead, universal moral claims.
A claim on what? What is the foundation of morality? Religious people can argue that the foundation of morality is God. One can also also argue that there are rational reasons for creating certain systems of morality. I’d agree. But that’s not a natural foundation for morality.

For what it’s worth, I don’t depend on society for the creation of that evolutionary desire for survival and cooperation. (though socialization is necessary for any cooperative urge to emerge, of course)
If you believe rights are nothing more than a societal invention, then you tacitly agree that whatever rights any society grants (or doesn’t) are implicity fine with you. After all, you’ve ceded to "society" the job of granting them (or not). That also means you grant society the right to take them away.

I don’t believe I’ve said that "rights" are a "societal invention"; I believe they are the result of the social (evolutionary) human need to form beneficial cooperation strategies. That’s somewhat different. In any event, that does not convey the decision-making ability upon society, except insofar as society is usually more powerful than an individual and if a society wants to impose itself on an individual, it can.

Individuals are still their own moral agents. It matters not what you "grant" society, except insofar as you can enforce it. Raging about the injustice of it all is inconsequential, unless it can effect change. And if it can, it is not the "injustice" which effects change, but the appeal to the evolved social cooperation strategies of others.
Thus, under that premise, Stalin’s gulags and Pol Pot’s killing fields are morally neutral since they simply reflect those societies differing views concerning "rights" and what they are willing or not willing to guarantee.
This is an appeal to consequences.

I think your argument misses the point here:

I’m an anti-foundationalist on the question of morality. That doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of constructing a system of morality and making normative judgements within that system. We all are.

It does mean that the interaction of matter and energy has no inherent moral value, good or evil. The value of that interaction is entirely dependent upon the values of the agents involved, and not upon some universal standard.

Finally, the last way in which I think you’re misunderstanding the argument I offer is this...
Consequently, there can be no moral outrage from those who believe in this formulation of rights granted by society. When the societies noted act in a way in which you don’t agree, the best argument you can muster is you don’t agree with their formulation, but, since you’ve explicitly granted and ceded to society the right to give and take rights (under this formulation they’re really privileges), you haven’t a moral leg to stand on.
But that’s not my argument. My argument is not that one must have a universal founation for morality in order to be a moral agent; nor have I "explicitly granted and ceded to society the right to give and take rights". I’ve only acknowledged that the actual "rights" we have in society are those that can be and are enforced. I grant that, in general, society has the power to take and give privileges. Since I’m an anti-foundationalist, it would be nonsensical of me to posit that society has some sort of "right" beyond that which power confers.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
No. You assert the moral component has "been ceded", you have not shown it.
If a right is a moral claim and you give up that claim to allow society to formulate rights, and agree to live by their formulation (whatever that may be), you have ceded the moral component which is key to natural rights.

At that point you’ve conceded to society the right to define morality, instead of your existence. Consequently morality, as defined by any society, can be whatever it wishes, and you really have no moral argument to make againt its actions or activities.

Under natural rights, society isn’t an instrument of formulation, but instead an instrument of protection. The rights preexist the society and are the same for all societies. All any society does is acknowledge their existence and leverage its power as a means of protecting them.

Once you cede to society the right to formulate ’rights’, you’ve ceded the moral component at the heart of natural rights. You explicitly grant to society total power over your life, liberty and property, to be disposed of (or not) at their whim.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Billy Beck is welcome to defend himself against murderers with his "natural rights". I’d use a gun.

More accurately: "Billy Beck is welcome to defend himself against murderers with his ’natural rights’ by using a gun."

Everyone is asking what is the value of natural rights because they cannot defend you against murderers. But in fact, without the concept of natural rights, you cannot defend yourself against murderers. Obviously, if you passively wait for the murderer to honor those rights, or for a concept to somehow hurl itself up from your bosom and overcome the bad guy, you’ll be dead.

But concepts aren’t passive, they are the root of all human action. Concepts allow us to build more concepts, including concepts of action. The concept of natural rights is the foundation of a whole edifice of concepts, one of which is the conept of defending your rights with a gun.

You can’t defend yourself with a gun without first coneptualizing defending yourself with a gun. You can’t get to the concept of defending your natural rights with a gun without first having the concept of natural rights.

Henke, you’re welcome to defend yourself against murderers with your "social contract". I’d use a gun.
 
Written By: Kyle Bennett
URL: http://www.humanadvancement.net/blog
in fact, without the concept of natural rights, you cannot defend yourself against murderers. [...] But concepts aren’t passive, they are the root of all human action.
Ah, so "the survival instinct" is the basis of "natural rights"?

You’re conflating your rational self-interest in survival and utility maximization (pleasant survival) with some sort of moral maxim that imbues the universe. Nonsense. The latter is simply mysticism added onto the former.

We have a evolutionarily necessary biological drive to survive — and, in a complex social arrangement — we evolved cooperation strategies. You can call that anything you like, but at the end of the day you’ve got your rational self-interest in survival.

You may derive a system of morality from that, but the survival instinct itself does not impose a moral obligation.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
McQ,

Err. I reiterate:

"And on rereading his post, McQ isn’t quite addressing my views either, so I could have better kept my finger off the kybd for the last half of that above last post of mine."

And when you wrote the immediately above post of yours, you were all but perfectly correct.

Unless you are saying that acknowledging the role society and it’s political and law enforcement organs have and will foreseeably play in the enforcement of natural rights is synonymous with ceding such moral agency.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
And on rereading his post, McQ isn’t quite addressing my views either, so I could have better kept my finger off the kybd for the last half of that post.
I was only using the quote as a starting point, Tom.
Unless you are saying that acknowledging the role society and it’s political and law enforcement organs have and will foreseeably play in the enforcement of natural rights is synonymous with ceding such moral agency.
No. Society’s role is that of a guarantor. The entire point of society is to provide a mechanism to protect man’s inherent rights. But man, the individual, remains the holder of the right and the one with the valid moral claim to his life, liberty and property.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
No. Society’s role is that of a guarantor. The entire point of society is to provide a mechanism to protect man’s inherent rights. But man, the individual, remains the holder of the right and the one with the valid moral claim to his life, liberty and property.
See, I think you’re making a normative argument here. You believe that society should protect inherent rights. I’d like that kind of society, too. However, that’s not how society and government actually function.

What society and governments actually do is protect societies interests. Their interests may be in negative liberty. I’d certainly like that. On the other hand, society may be most interested in protecting security. There’s plenty of evidence of that. Or society may be so dominated by a special interest that it ends up protecting that special interest at the expense of individuals.

Whatever you think society and government should do, the fact is that actually functions as a broker for society’s interests.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Your argument is reduced to one of formulary disagreement, nothing more.
You haven’t noticed? That is 99% of what Jon does!

I’m not knocking that, it is very interesting most of the time, but it is what it is.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
You believe that society should protect inherent rights.
No, not at all. I said that’s why men have formed societies. To make a collective effort to protect their inherent rights. Society isn’t an ’entity’, it’s a mechanism.
I’d like that kind of society, too. However, that’s not how society and government actually function.
Which has nothing, really, to do with why they are formed. Anyone who’s been around more than a day understands that such things as "societies" can be subverted from their original purpose. That’s why the USSR existed at the same time that the US did. But if your read the basic documents supposedly underpinning their "society", its purpose sounds very much like that which we have in our Constitution. The fact that powerful actors subverted it to something other than was orignally planned doesn’t change the fact that the original intent of that nation was to provide for the rights of its citizens. Same with the French Revolution.
What society and governments actually do is protect societies interests.
As defined by whom, Jon? Societies are collections of individuals and have no inherent interests except those defined by the individuals of which it consists.

You’re making the classic collectivist argument that societies (states, etc) are "entities" which have superior rights and interests to the individuals which formed them.

Societies have no rights. Rights can only be held by moral agents. And they have no interests beyond those of the individuals who form them.
Whatever you think society and government should do, the fact is that actually functions as a broker for society’s interests.
Society is a collective effort of individuals, it is not an entity, it has no rights, and it has no functions other than those assigned by the individuals of which it is comprised.

So it’s functions are not as set as you’d like to pretend. The fact is some societies do what they should do better than other societies. That is because they are structured, by the individuals involved, in a way which better addresses the protection of individual rights than the others. Those are usually societies in which the concept of natural rights is best understood and accepted.

While that may be colletively known as the "interests of society", it is, in fact the result of enacting the interests of individuals. "Society" is nothing more than a term for a mechanism for that enactment.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
No, not at all. I said that’s why men have formed societies. To make a collective effort to protect their inherent rights. Society isn’t an ’entity’, it’s a mechanism.
Ok, but you think that mechanism ought to operate towards a specific goal. I’m just arguing that, while I think your goal is laudable, that’s not the way it actually functions.
Which has nothing, really, to do with why they are formed.
When, where and by whom were "societies" originally formed? Be specific.

Of course, societies date back to pre-historic times — i.e., before written communication — so we can only speculate. Meanwhile, picking a particular point in time (the Declaration of Independence) and saying "that’s why society was formed" is unsatisfactory. Those people lived in a society well before the Declaration of Independence. At that moment in time, they were able to reorganize society in a manner consistent with a different basket of interests and values than it had been previously, but that is perfectly consistent with my formulation: that society reflects and protects interests, not "rights".
What society and governments actually do is protect societies interests.
As defined by whom, Jon?
As defined by the power and interests of the actors operating within that society.
Societies are collections of individuals and have no inherent interests except those defined by the individuals of which it consists. You’re making the classic collectivist argument that societies (states, etc) are "entities" which have superior rights and interests to the individuals which formed them.
No. Again, you’re completely misunderstanding what I’ve written. Societies don’t have "rights". Don’t pin that strawman on me again. Societies reflect and represent the power and interests (values) of the agents operating within it.

You just wrote that society isn’t an entity, it’s a mechanism. I agree. Precisely. And that mechanism — like a market — reflects the values within it. If society (the social market of power and interest) wants to value negative individual rights, society will exist to protect negative individual rights. If society (the social market of power and interests) wants to achieve a different set of values, society will exist to protect that different set of values.

You argue that society has a specific "role", but that’s inconsistent with the notion of society as a mechanism. A mechanism only has a role insofar as the agents within it perceive an end. If "society" perceives a different value, then the role of that mechanism changes.
Whatever you think society and government should do, the fact is that actually functions as a broker for society’s interests.
Society is a collective effort of individuals, it is not an entity, it has no rights, and it has no functions other than those assigned by the individuals of which it is comprised.
Let me restate what I wrote above so it’s clear:
Whatever you think [a collection of individuals] and government should do, the fact is that [government] actually functions as a broker for [a collection of individuals] interests.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Part of what concerns me about the idea that rights are natural is that does not necessitate that they are equal among men, any more than the other attributes of men that are considered "natural". Height, intelligence, darkness of skin... these are attributes that we hold unequally. I don’t see the use in viewing rights as natural, especially since we cannot agree on when an organism would have these rights. From what aspect of our nature do they spring? The number of chromosomes? Our intelligence?

It is all well and good to say that throughout history, oppressed peoples had rights that were violated. But realistically, that is no more useful to us than to admit that oppressed peoples did not have certain rights. And in fact, as Jon has pointed out, it is more useful to us as a society to admit that we do have the ability to strip individuals of their rights. To argue that our rights are not social constructs is to argue that criminal justice is not possible, for who among us has the right to lock up another, or to execute, or to seize property? It makes for great meditation but bad governance - it is no different from anarchy.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Ok, but you think that mechanism ought to operate towards a specific goal. I’m just arguing that, while I think your goal is laudable, that’s not the way it actually functions.
I should add that, while you might have a specific goal in mind for society, society is — as you’ve pointed out — made up of individuals who necessarily make up their own values and may not share yours.

Since individual values differ, it’s highly unlikely society — the mechanism through which individuals express their values — could have only one objective.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon Henke wrote:

"Don’t pin that strawman on me again."

And by way of jumpimg up and down, the strawman Jon is using is that the natural law of "human" or "individual" rights is not self enforcing, so you’re better off using a "gun" than a "right" to save you from an attacker.

I consider the strawman Jon is using to already be demolished.

There is a natural law which says rights exist, and that natural law is proven true even more so than the natural law which describes gravity existing as obeying the equation:

Fg = G [(m1m2)/r^2]


We know that equation isn’t the whole story about masses attracting, we still call it a natural law.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
the strawman Jon is using is that the natural law of "human" or "individual" rights is not self enforcing, so you’re better off using a "gun" than a "right" to save you from an attacker.
I think it’s a particularly useful way of pointing out that these ’natural’ rights don’t have any natural consequences. They are, as Max and I’ve described, a construct of social interaction.
There is a natural law which says rights exist, and that natural law is proven true
Cite it.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
So, would you agree with the statement that morality, and rights, are also cultural constructs, Jon?



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
If we use "culture" and "society" interchangeably, yes. If we’re referring to the evolutionary process whereby we developed our cooperation strategies, no. If we’re referring to the tangible product of the social market of power and interests, yes.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon Henke says:

"Cite it."

And since I’ve said the whole of human history confirms it, I presume Jon knows of an example of history which contradicts it.


He can provide a counterexample from history, or suucessfully attack my premises.

And within the context of my earlier posts in this thread, I’m waiting.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
By your standards, Newton’s laws should be laughed at as fictions, but I’ll bet you do not fear to cross most bridges.

Tom, you keep equating rights to laws of physics. If you want to do that, I’ll play. Ask a physicist whether Newton’s laws are true, and he will say yes. (For example, I am one, and I say yes.) Similarly, if asked whether a person’s rights are inherent, I will say yes. It is useful to think of it that way for most situations, and it is closer to the truth than what might be understood if I said "no, Newton’s laws are not true," or "we do not have rights inherent to our existence".

But upon closer inspection, as you note, Newton’s laws do not always hold to be perfect predictors of the physical world. There is something more to it. And I would say the same is true of your claim that an individual’s rights are inherent.

You keep talking about proof, but what you mean is data. Physical laws are not proven, they are accepted as true. Natural rights are not proven, they are accepted as true. These are concepts that men have constructed in order to make their lives better.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
And since I’ve said the whole of human history confirms it, I presume Jon knows of an example of history which contradicts it.
You’re not exactly clear on the antecedent here. How does history confirm it? There are plenty of cultures, societies and people who do not believe that "natural rights" exist. In fact, no government in history has recognized and abided by the implicit obligations of "natural rights".

You can argue that John Doe had a "natural right" not to be murdered in the year 1575, but, again, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all? You’re simply arguing that a survival instinct combined with free will amounts to a moral "right".

I agree that we have a survival instinct and free will, but that does not lead to a "right". That’s a leap without basis.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Jon, this may make it easier on you:
The natural law of "human" rights states that intelligence, existing in circumstances of finite resources, as discretized into individual entities, has inhering to such entities certain moral claims such entities can rightfully make on the power to act with volition and to benefit to the ends the individual sees fit to pursue from the results of choices thereby made. A corollary is that that grouping of entities acting within each other’s potential scope of action, called a society, will tend to maximize each individuals ability to command resources towards the infinite, taken in the aggregate, although never reaching it, and this is true the more correctly the society apprises itself of what those inherent rights are, and organizes itself accordingly.
What definition of natural do you think is fiction, and can you prove that statement above is fiction?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Jon says:
You’re conflating your rational self-interest in survival and utility maximization (pleasant survival) with some sort of moral maxim that imbues the universe. Nonsense. The latter is simply mysticism added onto the former.
and:
See, I think you’re making a normative argument here. You believe that society should protect inherent rights. I’d like that kind of society, too. However, that’s not how society and government actually function.
Having wasted far to much time in philosophy classes, I’d point out that the usual term for this argument is "the is-ought gap". You can’t reason from non-normative first principles to prove a normative conclusion, because there is simply no rule of deduction that works that way. You can’t reason from an "is" to an "ought" unless you want to claim some normative principles as axioms to start with.

Usually, when someone is talking about "natural rights" they’re trying to do just that: to assert as axiomatic some normative principle. This is importantly different from saying that one could deduce "natural rights" from some other source.

If someone wants to assert their own definition of "natural rights" as a normative axiom, that’s fine, but those "natural rights" would have to be necessarily true, and not deduced from anything else — in the universe or a priori — so it’s not a very interesting discussion. You can say that something is true by definition, and assert your definition, but so what.

If you want to claim that you can prove that some "natural rights" are necessarily true, but deduced from something else, then you have to assert that some other normative claims are axioms — because of the "is-ought gap" — and so anyone who disagrees with those normative axioms is free to call your "natural rights" nonsense.

Jon’s approach is clever and somewhat new. He’s asserting a third possibility: that "natural rights" (or maybe just "rights") are empirical — not necessarily true, and therefore not deduced from first principles — merely a property of a particular society which may be discovered by testing. There’s a lot to be said for this approach. You can still argue about what rights individuals ought to have in a society, but Jon would make that distinct from what rights individuals do have.

Most proponents of "natural rights" would say you always have them, it’s just a question of whether society realizes that. But I think that approach is muddled, and Jon has the right of it.

 
Written By: Skorj
URL: http://
The normative argument being made therein is subjective and not a product of nature. "Rightfully" and "moral" are entirely the domain of individual evaluations, rather than a judgement of nature.

I agree that assuming "negative rights" will enhance the aggregate utitility, but that doesn’t mean that individual recognition of "negative rights" will enhance a given individuals utility in a discrete circumstance; nor does it mean that the assumption of negative rights is always and everywhere utility maximizing for the aggregate.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Skorj wrote:
"and so anyone who disagrees with those normative axioms is free to call your "natural rights" nonsense."
As far as it goes, yes. However, they’d also to give an explanation of the "human condition" in history which is more consistent with that history, or their claim its nonsense rings quite hollow.

A hypothesis or "natural law" doen’t go the way of the aether until it is shown to be inconsistent with observed results. You know, how things are done in the hard sciences.

;^)

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Wulf wrote:

"But upon closer inspection, as you note, Newton’s laws do not always hold to be perfect predictors of the physical world. There is something more to it. And I would say the same is true of your claim that an individual’s rights are inherent"

You can say it. I can say gravity obeys Fg = [ln(m1 & m2)] / D^2, too.

It doesn’t detract from the validity of the hypothesis or natural law until you prove contradictory evidence

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
In the post re Skorj, "also to" /= "also have to" Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Catching up on the thread;
The normative argument being made therein is subjective and not a product of nature. "Rightfully" and "moral" are entirely the domain of individual evaluations, rather than a judgement of nature.
Is it?
I’m not totally sure how to raise this, (I know Jon will call this mere consequentialism....) but here’s a stab at it; With so many indviduals, and indeed, so many cultures, coming to conclusions about what is ’right’ and ’just’ and ’moral’ I find it hard if not impossible to conclude that there’s not some connection, other than mutual agreement.

Other Matters, and on the other hand;
Most proponents of "natural rights" would say you always have them, it’s just a question of whether society realizes that. But I think that approach is muddled
Here, again, we come to what the founders had to say on the matter, most specifically, Jefferson.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable [inalienable] Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. "
.. and so on.

Jefferson was seemingly saying precisely what you call ’muddled’. Yet, it was not so. As I pointed out in another thread, we need to pay attention to who the "We" is, in the quoted passage... as in "We The American People" and THAT reading of the passage labels those vales as CULTURAL constructs, and thereby that rights are NOT universal, as I’ve been saying for years.

It strikes me as plauseable that these two seemingly disjointed points can be connected with the observation that cultures that recognize such rights as listed here, tend to do better, and that Jefferson’s document (And our culture of the day) recognized that fact as few others before it have.

I think the rub that many get into is when Jefferson attributes those rights to the creator....and such people invariably try to pass it off as metaphysical nonsense, discounting the entire idea.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
It doesn’t detract from the validity of the hypothesis or natural law until you prove contradictory evidence.

Tom, I am not trying to prove anything. I am asking those of you who think that you have proven natural law to explain yourselves. No matter how much you tell us to look at history, you haven’t proven anything that you assert, and this is why your conversation with Jon is going in circles.

We observe things in nature. We observe that they happen in predictable ways. We have equations to describe those observations, but that is all those equations are: descriptors. They are called "physical laws" but Newton did nothing more than describe more accurately than others. None of our equations in physics are more than useful descriptors we have constructed.

Similarly, Jon has described rights, but none here have proven they even exist. Since we haven’t proven they exist, but we all seem to be agreeing that they do, we can say pretty definitively that they are at least social constructs, though some like yourself assert they are more fundamental to our existence than that. This is why Jon likened it to the existence of God. You might as well ask for contradictory evidence for God, to prove he doesn’t exist. I am not attempting to prove a negative, I am simply observing that we believe in rights, and I am asking why you think those rights we believe in and describe are objectively more than social constructs, or even why it is more useful to think of them that way. If you cannot nail something down something more substantial than what you have already posted, I think we will have to agree that we will disagree.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Since individual values differ, it’s highly unlikely society — the mechanism through which individuals express their values — could have only one objective.
Certainly there are individual values which differ on a level apart from those which are required by man to live as a rational creature. However, those are the difference between needs and wants. There are basic needs we all share, which are universal and dictated by the boundaries of our existence, its nature and its requirements that provide the basis for our inherent rights. We can’t change those, we all have the same ones and we give them the priority in our lives they deserve. Fulfilling those needs is something we value very highly.

So on that basic level, all societies function to help individual fulfill those universal needs. The fact that we exist gives us as valid a moral claim (a right) to their fulfillment as it does any other man, but no more than any other man. It is that point in which the limits on our rights are first realized.

The most convenient and efficient mechanism to date to accomplish the fulfillment of our basic human needs has been through the mechanism of human society. It is there that the discovered rights and their limits are acknowledged and codified and the given limits and responsibilities enforced.

That human societies can and are subverted from that primary function doesn’t change their original and primary reason for being formed. They are the mechanism which most efficiently enables our ability to best fulfill our basic needs ... unless you can think of another reason to form a society which doesn’t require fulfilling such needs and has a better method of enhancing man’s ability to live and survive as a rational creature.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Wulf,

You said, "Tom, I am not trying to prove anything." But you are. You are trying to prove a negative, that the political economy "natural law" theory of human rights is wrong. That’s not as hard as it sounds with the empirical sciences. Repeat Michelson aether experiment and replicatably find the aether, and you’ll have disproved Einstein and get trip to Stockholm. Particularly, I hope you’re trying to prove my formulation of natural rights it is wrong, but the general idea is also in dispute here.

The thing is though, unless some evidence comes along to the contrary, the law or hypothesis that is the best explanation for observations is king of the hill, not to mention, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".

So what have you got?

Jon’s still spinning his wheels making unsupported assertions like:
"but that doesn’t mean that individual recognition of "negative rights" will enhance a given individuals utility in a discrete circumstance*; nor does it mean that the assumption of negative rights is always and everywhere utility maximizing for the aggregate."

It may not in some singular set of circumstances, but even for individuals it will do so—that is "assuming "negative rights" will enhance the aggregate utitility"—over time.

And it’s in the aggregate of human experience that the law has it’s proper scope.

That’s what is tries to explain, and so that is the correct frame of reference for testing it.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
We observe things in nature. We observe that they happen in predictable ways. We have equations to describe those observations, but that is all those equations are: descriptors. They are called "physical laws" but Newton did nothing more than describe more accurately than others. None of our equations in physics are more than useful descriptors we have constructed.
Interesting. So then, there seems a bit of a mesh here between this and my earlier comment...
...cultures that recognize such rights as listed here, tend to do better, and that Jefferson’s document (And our culture of the day) recognized that fact as few others before it have.
... and thus the question to you, Wulf;

If Newton’s observations are called "Natural Laws" why is it invalid to call such observations about cultural values and the cnnection to the relative success of cultures, vis a vie’ their values, any less ’natural’?


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Bithead wrote:

"... and thus the question to you, Wulf;

If Newton’s observations are called "Natural Laws" why is it invalid to call such observations about cultural values and the cnnection to the relative success of cultures, vis a vie’ their values, any less ’natural’?"

And to amplify, why are they less a "natural laws"?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Bithead wrote:

"... and thus the question to you, Wulf;

If Newton’s observations are called "Natural Laws" why is it invalid to call such observations about cultural values and the cnnection to the relative success of cultures, vis a vie’ their values, any less ’natural’?"

And to amplify, why are they less a "natural law"?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Durn.

I thought I hit stop in time. Electrons go faster than my fingers, go figger.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Billy Beck is welcome to defend himself against murderers with his "natural rights". I’d use a gun
Uh, so would he, since his natural rights give him the only valid moral claim on his own life and thus the right to act to protect it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Henke: Ah, so "the survival instinct" is the basis of "natural rights"?

Ah... No.

You may derive a system of morality from that, but the survival instinct itself does not impose a moral obligation.

Just what obligation do you suppose I’m implying? And on whom? I’m betting your answers to both will get it almost exactly backwards.

—Kyle Bennett
 
Written By: Kyle Bennett
URL: http://www.humanadvancement.net/blog
OrneryWP: You rely on other people to stop that murderer from infringing no your right to life and liberty.

Why?

If they aren’t around, "natural" rights are as good as the sound of a tree falling in a forest, or the value of a dollar if no one believes it’s worth anything.

There it is, the intellectual basis of unchecked statism: You must rely on everyone but yourself to provide the values you seek. Does this extend to food, clothing, and shelter too? Why not?

If such rights really existed objectively, why build a Justice system?

If the laws of aerodynamics are natural laws and exist objectively, then why build airplanes?

I’m sure the masters of the coming totalitarian state will be suitably grateful to the NeoLibs for working so hard to provide the moral foundation for their new world order - if they keep you around long enough to enjoy it, that is.

McQ, there’s still time to save yourself. Consider Billy’s advice.

—Kyle Bennett




 
Written By: Kyle Bennett
URL: http://www.humanadvancement.net/blog
You are trying to prove a negative,

Actually, I really am not. I just don’t see the utility or the proof I would need in order to view rights having a presocial existance. That’s all. Your throw-down language about "the law or hypothesis that is the best explanation for observations is king of the hill" seems misplaced, because while it is accurate, it doesn’t hold up your view over mine at all. As I said, I think we will have to agree to disagree, because you are asserting that rights existed before society, and there isn’t going to be any proof. I won’t believe it without some proof or some utility (and I accept that you find utility in it even though I don’t, so this isn’t a dismissal of your choice to view it that way).

As for Bithead, I almost threw in Jefferson’s name with Newton’s. Jefferson made observations about the disagreement between the way the founding fathers viewed rights, and how those rights were being addressed by the crown. He called those rights inalienable, but he seems to have been comfortable with the notion that those rights actually are alienable on an individual basis - say, hanging for treason, or imprisonment after due process. He does not seem to hold them as absolute to the extent that Newton held the law of gravity to be absolute, but Newton would be the first to change the equations if observations showed the need. This is where I would have trouble with your point of view. As far as I can tell, you would refer to my plastic cup as natural, because it exists. But I don’t think it existed prior to being created by man, any more than Newton’s equations or Jefferson’s concepts. Could you please explain the utility of thinking of rights as having a extra-social existance? Or, as Jon said, You can argue that John Doe had a "natural right" not to be murdered in the year 1575, but, again, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Wulf, you are quite right, we will have to agree to disagree.

"it doesn’t hold up your view over mine at all"

And I think it self-evidently does. You certainly haven’t shown how they don’t convince you or why my argument is flawed or unconvincing, you merely say you are unconvinced without showing where my reasoning is faulty. You could approach it by convincingly showing some other conception of the question has greater utility.

"Could you please explain the utility of thinking of rights as having a extra-social existance? Or, as Jon said, You can argue that John Doe had a "natural right" not to be murdered in the year 1575, but, again, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?"

And I would say that whether an inherent right to life was recognized at that time, or whether it was accidental the society inadvertently recognized the right by some other mechanism—say because they thought God said it was wrong—then the fact that respecting the right even if not being aware of it meant that John Doe was less likely to be murdered, then because in aggregate that would reduce murders, the utility of the law is proved. If accidentaly doing something predicted by the law to have a good effect shows the good effect, I think you’ll have to admit the proof of the law is a least strengthened.

And again I mean proved in the sense that there is no contradictory evidence or phnomenon it is intended to cover which it does not explain.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Kyle Bennett wrote:

"If the laws of aerodynamics are natural laws and exist objectively, then why build airplanes?"

And, WOW, was that a good line in this context or what?

Yours, TDP, ml,msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
But he also wrote:

"McQ, there’s still time to save yourself. Consider Billy’s advice."

Err. I think Jon needs a lot more wotk than McQ on this score.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Err. I think Jon needs a lot more wotk than McQ on this score.
That’s actually what he meant, Tom. He’s telling me to save myself and abandon this place as Billy has advised on his blog.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
And again I mean proved in the sense that there is no contradictory evidence or phnomenon it is intended to cover which it does not explain.

Hmmm... If I say that everything on earth happens because God wills it to happen, can you give me any contradictory evidence or phenomenon that my theory is intended to cover which it does not explain?
 
Written By: kenB
URL: http://
McQ,

Ohhh.

Well then, if the LPers and hangers on had shown any greater utility in their actions in maintaining their existence as such as compared to, say, trying something worthwhile, then he would have a point.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

KenB,

If God wants things to happen the way they happen, and that’s all there is to it, then a society organized around such a principle will try things that have never been done before in human history, like making sacrifices to propitiate the gods into providing for their needs...

Whereas even a society based on the notion that things happen because God wants them to, if that society also noticed some predictability in what God wants that seemed independent of any rituals—say a mathematically describable predictability...Why then they could refine their mathematical models until they knew of few meaningful discrepancies between their models and the reality they observed. I’ll bet those models would let them infer how things could be done to improve crop yields, make drugs, air conditioning, and even make toilet paper. Now they might do all that and keep God’s will at the base of it all, but I’ll hypothesize they run into Occam’s Razor along the way and it cuts God right out of the equations...

Now how could we run such an experiment?

Hmmm...

Oh. Dang. Silly us. The whole of human history is the empirical record of such an experiment, and we know how it turns out.

There’s your "contradictory evidence or phenomenon that my theory is intended to cover which it does not explain".

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Also, as McQ pointed out any theory of rights as being created by or associated inherently to society instead of the individual, these theories make things more complicated and not less. I think Occam’s Razor take a good chunk out of them to.

Occam’s Razor finds the natural law theory adamantine by comparison.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
And again I mean proved in the sense that there is no contradictory evidence or phnomenon it is intended to cover which it does not explain.

Hey, I heard that argument about Intelligent Design, too. Doesn’t make it useful, or true.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
If God wants things to happen the way they happen, and that’s all there is to it, then a society organized around such a principle will try things that have never been done before in human history, like making sacrifices to propitiate the gods into providing for their needs...

Um, what? According to my theory, any given society will be ordered the way God wants it to be ordered. Whatever is, is what God willed. How does your "experiment" disprove this?

I’ll hypothesize they run into Occam’s Razor along the way and it cuts God right out of the equations

In other words, even though there’s no contradictory evidence for my theory, people can still find it unsatisfactory. This was exactly my objection to your assertion above — the mere ability to explain existing phenomena isn’t sufficient to make a convincing theory.
 
Written By: kenB
URL: http://
Now that’s the Bruce I know. Good for you, and sorry for my snarkiness on that other post.

To add 2c and summarize, for Jon:

1. Rights are a moral claim, just like Bruce says.

2. The basis of that morality is man’s fundamental choice, i.e., whether he will pursue the values necessary to live, or default and die.

In other words, man has free will, which means he must make conscious choices, by nature. Some choices objectively benefit life, and some choices objectively harm or end his life. That’s objective morality, and rights are a recognition that this is how man is built to survive naturally, with his mind.
 
Written By: Richard Nikoley
URL: http://www.uncsense.com
A hypothesis or "natural law" doen’t go the way of the aether until it is shown to be inconsistent with observed results. You know, how things are done in the hard sciences.

In the hard sciences, very few things are asserted as necessarily true, a priori. Hard science studies things which seem to be true, based on observations about the world, not often things which can be deduced from abstract first principles (thats the realm of the mathematicians and logicians).

Tom: If you believe "natural rights" can only be known because they are observed in the world, much like gravity, you’re pretty close to conceding Jon’s point. To maintain that "natural right" are something inherent to being, you have to be able to prove that without any study of the world, and that’s where it gets difficult, as you first have to assert that some moral code is necessarily true (again, without any study of the world).

Is you were to observe 2 added to 3 not being 5, would you doubt basic mathematics, or would you doubt your senses? Most who would argue for "natural rights" would put them in the same category as mathematical truths - observation of history is meaningless, because these "natural rights" are necessarily inherent to being, just as 2 added to 3 necessarily makes 5.

It really sounds to me like Tom and Jon agree that "natural rights" are a property of the physical world, and are arguing only about terminology. From history one can judge what "natural rights" seem to poduce the best society, and assert that those are the natural rights that a society ought to assign to its members.
 
Written By: Skorj
URL: http://
*sigh*

I’m just glad Jefferson was able to get past all of this..

otherwise we’d still be paying British taxes.

If this is a useful fiction, when does it become not useful enough to necessitate all this?

i.e. Whats the problem with government making laws based on consensus and individuals- some who believe in natural rights, and some who don’t- having consensus on what ought to be rights?

(am I just not savoring the flavor of the is-ought gap?)

Bottom line basically.
Does this really mean anything in application or is it all for fun?
 
Written By: Richard
URL: http://
Wulf wrote:
"Hey, I heard that argument about Intelligent Design, too. Doesn’t make it useful, or true."
The thing is, I can provide counter examples of how evolution could provide all the examples of what IT says is proof of Intelligent Design, at least all the ones I can think of. What examples do you have that disprove my conception of natural law individual inherent human rights?

You’re just saying you aren’t convinced, but you and these other disagreeers aren’t laying out a chain of logic and examples that shows I must be wrong.

Give it a shot, maybe I missed something you’ll find obvious.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

PS. Entirely off topic, I’d like to make a plug for the Caledonian Kitchen’s Sirloin Haggis. I’m eating half a can right now, and its wonderful. I have no connection to CK other than being a fan.
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Time is limited, so I’ll be as brief as I can.
With so many indviduals, and indeed, so many cultures, coming to conclusions about what is ’right’ and ’just’ and ’moral’ I find it hard if not impossible to conclude that there’s not some connection, other than mutual agreement.
That’s how a market—and spontaneous organization—works.
Certainly there are individual values which differ on a level apart from those which are required by man to live as a rational creature.
Full stop. "Required"? "To live as a rational creature"? How else can one live? Whether one acknowledges these "rights" (values) or not, one continues to live as a rational creature. Only death can stop that.
Uh, so would he, since his natural rights give him the only valid moral claim on his own life and thus the right to act to protect it.
See, this is just begging the question. He has the interest in acting to protect himself and the free will to do it. That doesn’t create a "standard of appropriate behaviour" any more than "an interest in acting to kill him and the free will to do it" is a "standard of appropriate behaviour".
The fact that we exist gives us as valid a moral claim (a right) to their fulfillment as it does any other man, but no more than any other man. It is that point in which the limits on our rights are first realized.
You use phrases like "moral sphere" or "moral claim". I’m anti-foundationalist on the subject of morality. There’s no natural foundation for it. There are rationalizations and incentives, but there’s nothing in nature which decrees a single foundation for morality. In short, you’re just making up this "moral sphere/claim" thing. It’s a figment of your own free will and your socialization strategies. That’s it. There’s no basis for it in nature, except that social animals are prone to creating systems of morality as coping strategies.
That human societies can and are subverted from that primary function doesn’t change their original and primary reason for being formed.
You’re arguing that society was originally formed to protect individual rights? But societies were originally formed in pre-history. You can’t possibly know what the first society was formed to do. All we can do is analyze the function of society in recorded history, and recorded history is replete with societies that didn’t have any regard for something like "natural rights".
1. Rights are a moral claim, just like Bruce says.

2. The basis of that morality is man’s fundamental choice, i.e., whether he will pursue the values necessary to live, or default and die.
And if a man makes a choice to take another man’s property, and that action benefits him? You can’t switch back and forth between the aggregate utilitarian argument that "negative rights are necessary for the greatest good", and the subjective utilitarian argument that "rights are individually mandated". If an agent is acting for his own greatest good to pursue his own values necessary to live, then you must recongize that his own utilitarian calculation may differ wildly from yours. His values — or those of society — of course, impose no obligation on you, except insofar as they can impose themselves on you.

If John Sabatto chooses to put "5 grams" in the "back of Jon Henke’s head", my own values are irrelevant. I may dislike it briefly, and others may dislike it for much longer. But they are not the agents making the choice to act or not to act. That moral choice is Sabatto’s and Sabatto’s alone. Nobody else — not me, not society — can make that choice for him. We can only agree or disagree, and act accordingly.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Sabotta relates the story of a Soviet prisoner who was executed in 1934. No doubt, his ’natural rights’ comforted him to the very end. Unfortunately, they didn’t actually help him.

I cannot imagine a more complete expression of craven power-worship and open moral cowardice than this statement by Henke.
 
Written By: John Sabotta
URL: http://www.no-treason.com
As for Bithead, I almost threw in Jefferson’s name with Newton’s.
Glad to see I was not quite so far out in left field, after all.
Jefferson made observations about the disagreement between the way the founding fathers viewed rights, and how those rights were being addressed by the crown. He called those rights inalienable, but he seems to have been comfortable with the notion that those rights actually are alienable on an individual basis - say, hanging for treason, or imprisonment after due process.
I’m not altogether sure that I’d put it so. The act of committing a crime, I suppose he would argue, constitutes a voluntary surrendering of those rights.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Ken is right, Tom. Again, I’ve heard your argument before, from the Intelligent Design crowd. Also, you are misweilding Occam’s razor, as does the ID crowd. There is no difference in method or argument between what you are saying here, and what they say. I cannot prove that you do not have an invisible dragon in your garage, yet my inability to prove it is hardly evidence of its existence. (How long before somebody had to bring that one up? Why does it have to be said?)

So, do rights exist? Let us agree that they do, since none here seem to argue otherwise. How do we know they exist? What evidence do we actually have?
We have no evidence but that we see that societies hold them to be true. But we do not see that all societies hold the same ones to be true. So, which rights exist? The right to life? At what point? Until what point? Is this inalienable right actually alienable? Can one abdicate their inalienable right to life? Neither yes nor no makes sense, and in this "natural law" paradigm, attempted murder is as much a paradox as god making an object so heavy he cannot lift it. Because if A tries to murder B, either B has the right to defend his inalienable right to life by any measure necessary (including murdering A, which violates A’s right to life, meaning A abdicated his right to life when he attempted murder, alienating the inalienable), or B does not have the right to defend his life, and his right to it is alienable and subject to the whims of B.

This doesn’t make any sense, so clearly one’s right to life must be alienable by ourselves and others, which means that it is subject to societal interactions and not extrasocietal at all.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
"I cannot imagine a more complete expression of craven power-worship and open moral cowardice than this statement by Henke."

Communist Manifesto? Mein Kampf? Mao’s Little Black Book? Calhoun’s defense of slavery? How ’bout the Democratic Party Platform? (screw you Pogue)

I think Jon’s being a little silly and not listening to reason, but this John Sabotta needs to get out more.


Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
There’s no natural foundation for it [morality].
Oh there most certainly is ... it’s called free will. It is that characteristic which makes us moral agents.

A dog cannot be considered immoral for being a dog, but man certainly can, because unlike a dog, man has a choice. It is choice which is the natural foundation of morality.

Because we have free will we require a code of values to guide our choices and actions. As a general rule, for instance, choices which endanger or end ours or others lives are found to be immoral. Those that extend or protenct ours or other lives are found to be moral.

Since man must choose his actions, values and goals, morality provides the standard by which to make the choices proper to rational man. The purpose, of course, is to achieve, maintain and fulfill man’s ultimate value ... his own life.

Maybe it’s just me, but you seem to have a very superficial understanding of what constitutes morality.
In short, you’re just making up this "moral sphere/claim" thing.
Well that’s a convenient way to avoid discussion, isn’t it?
It’s a figment of your own free will and your socialization strategies. That’s it. There’s no basis for it in nature, except that social animals are prone to creating systems of morality as coping strategies.
See above. Then name a single other social animal with concerns about morality.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Wulf wrote:
"Again, I’ve heard your argument before, from the Intelligent Design crowd."
And I ask him, you’ve heard the Intelligent Design crown disprove everything they are claiming? You need to reread what I wrote, which was:
"The thing is, I can provide counter examples of how evolution could provide all the examples of what IT says is proof of Intelligent Design, at least all the ones I can think of."
Your response to that shows you didn’t read or don’t understand what I wrote.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"Required"? "To live as a rational creature"? How else can one live?
MK.

[/snark]
You can’t possibly know what the first society was formed to do. All we can do is analyze the function of society in recorded history, and recorded history is replete with societies that didn’t have any regard for something like "natural rights".
Not to speak for him, but to answer for my own part...


If you look closely you may notice that none of them have survived. Thus, a natural control.
There’s no basis for it in nature
I don’t know is I be so quick on the trigger about that one.

You are suggesting that natural law cannot be viewed as scientific. I know those aren’t the words you’re using but that ends up being the argument in reality. I would argue to the contrary... that there is a direct and observable relationship that can be tracked scientifically both in history an in current day;

The societies that have survived are the ones that respect the rights that Jefferson listed, and the ones that did not, did not survive. Again, I’m quite sure that you will label this mere consequentialism, but there it is; (What, after all was Newton but an observer of consequences?)

Jefferson, for all of his faults, seems to have been a fairly accurate observer of the world around him in terms of societal behavior, and of human nature, both on a individual and collective basis... Just as Newton was before him as regards gravity. He observed that nations, and the people in them, tend to do better when certain rights are respected, in much the same way as sir Isaac noticed that people who didn’t dive off cliffs at a tendency to last longer than people who did.


And Wulf:
As far as I can tell, you would refer to my plastic cup as natural, because it exists. But I don’t think it existed prior to being created by man, any more than Newton’s equations or Jefferson’s concepts.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Oops.

Wulf:
As far as I can tell, you would refer to my plastic cup as natural, because it exists. But I don’t think it existed prior to being created by man, any more than Newton’s equations or Jefferson’s concepts.
The equations that Newton developed were the results of observations of what already existed. He did not create , he merely conceptualized, IE; mapped out in his head, what was already in place.

Similarly, Jefferson conceptualized what was already in place, and what already happened and laid out a plan of government which accentuated the positive aspects that he observed through history.

Neither could be said to have created anything other than new thought patterns, new concepts, about what was already in place and functioning. Both were mere observers of the preexisting facts. Both were only revolutionary insofar as nobody had ever thought to notice the things that these men did before.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
KenB,

Rereading your statement not as if it were a response to my theory, but instead your actual belief of how the world is ordered, and you wrote:

"If I say that everything on earth happens because God wills it to happen, can you give me any contradictory evidence or phenomenon that my theory is intended to cover which it does not explain?"

I concede you have a completely hermetic, circular faith that is unamenable to logic or disproof, one for which any and all evidence for or against is just evidence of what God wants to be there.

Good luck with that.

My conception of what natural rights are, what the reality relating to them is, that’s different, there could be proof I am wrong...

...No one’s provided it yet.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
The truth is that our conception of rights is a contract between all applicable parties. You have rights not because God will come down and smite those who wrong you, but by consent of your fellow man.
My Natural Rights are not dependent on your acceptance of such.

You folks should consider the gist of Beck’s comment for what it really says rather than the emotional responses you’re displaying.

 
Written By: Don Linsenbach
URL: http://
Bruce;
Maybe it’s just me, but you seem to have a very superficial understanding of what constitutes morality.
Damn it...When this thread first came up this morning it was on the tip of my tounge to suggest that you were not working on the same definition of morality as Jon was. I even went so far has to put together a response for the thread which contained a link to dictionary.com for the word "Morality" but it didn’t seem to help in this context, as you can see.... Particularly since the definitions listed seem to regard "individual morality" as an oxymoron.

I suspect his view of the definition to be directly affected by use basis of what being that there is no natural linkage to morality.

I will do now what I should have done this morning and suggest a sub- discussion on the subject of what constitutes morality.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Where exactly is Billy Beck’s advice anyway?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Here, and here.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Thanks, TDP
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Kyle Bennett:
OrneryWP: You rely on other people to stop that murderer from infringing no your right to life and liberty.
Why?
Assuming you can’t defend yourself from all would-be murderers, you’re going to need some help. Your "right" to life and liberty isn’t enforced here on Earth by some higher power, as history has shown.
If they [other people] aren’t around [to protect you against thugs et al], "natural" rights are as good as the sound of a tree falling in a forest, or the value of a dollar if no one believes it’s worth anything.
There it is, the intellectual basis of unchecked statism: You must rely on everyone but yourself to provide the values you seek. Does this extend to food, clothing, and shelter too? Why not?
Nowhere did I say you can’t get these things by yourself. You can certainly try.

But the useful mass delusion that we have inherent dignity does nothing to save you from a thug out in the mddle of nowhere. You are inherently at everyone else’s mercy. If they don’t believe you have a natural, inherent right to your life and liberty, they can walk right through it like it’s not even there.

This begs the question: how can you prove it’s there?
And remember: the burden of proof is on the believer, not the skeptic.

There is certainly no consensus in our society — though we’re pretty close to a consensus on many related points — that you have a right to live. There are people out there who will deny you your life and feel no remorse at all, so clearly (when combatting psychopaths, at least) you’re relying on people who do believe in your "inalienable rights" to stop that psycho from killing you.
If such rights really existed objectively, why build a Justice system?
If the laws of aerodynamics are natural laws and exist objectively, then why build airplanes?
Airplanes don’t exist to enforce the laws of aerodynamics. They exist to take advantage of something that objectively exists. When you push air a certain way, it pushes back a certain way. We can all observe that.

I defy you to do the same with natural rights. You can’t. If someone puts a bullet in the back of your head, the only consequences coming to him that we can objectively observe are those enforced by other people. Unless you can prove the existence of karma or a judging God, that is...
Here in the US, we have a contract with our fellow man that creates a set of useful delusions, just like what we do with money. It’s rule by mass fiat. If everyone stopped believing you had the right to live tomorrow, I wouldn’t put money down on you surviving long. In this country, we’ve promoted the notion that you have an inalienable right, which is like an irrevocable privilege based on a contract — and so long as our country remains legitimate in enough eyes, that contract remains quite durable (but also renegotiable! We can amend it, and the founding fathers believed we could scrap it and start a new one). So long as that contract remains unbroken and people believe in it, they’ll protect you and punish those who infringe upon those "rights."
I’m sure the masters of the coming totalitarian state will be suitably grateful to the NeoLibs for working so hard to provide the moral foundation for their new world order - if they keep you around long enough to enjoy it, that is.
I don’t presume to tell people what is and is not moral — I’m essentially amoralist until someone proves that a moral distinction is valid. So far, I’ve seen no enforcement of moral principle come from anyone except other imperfect men like me. We thought up the principles, we’ve agreed to them in different places, and we enforce them. You live at the mercy of your fellow man, whether you like it or not. But you join us in supporting that contract, which I deeply respect, which provides for these "rights."

We’re not so different in practice, you and I. Where we differ, as in so many libertarian balkanization debates, is in the underlying philosophy. As you can see, there’s room for disagreement under the neolib big tent. I believe in limited, accountable government, but for me, I especially argue the point because I also understand that the only thing standing between me and losing these things I cherish (life, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness) is our shared contract. I can’t rely on some higher power to start enforcing those rights if my fellow men decide my rights are not so important anymore.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
The truth is that our conception of rights is a contract between all applicable parties. You have rights not because God will come down and smite those who wrong you, but by consent of your fellow man.
My Natural Rights are not dependent on your acceptance of such.

You folks should consider the gist of Beck’s comment for what it really says rather than the emotional responses you’re displaying.
Nothing about my argument is emotional. This is bare-bones fact.

If I try to kill you (not planning on it), the only thing standing in my way is another human being. Period.

That human might be you; it might be someone else who thinks you have inherent dignity and rights. But someone must believe you have inherent value. If the rights come from somewhere else, I defy you to get that "somewhere else" to come down from on high and save you. Try it sometime.

If no one believed it, it wouldn’t exist. That’s the logical consequence of this hypothetical.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Er...
two—four linkee no workee.

Thanks again though, TDP
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
eh?
lemme see here.

(Sound of thrashing keys)

(Shrug)
I dunno.. all I did was copy the permalink.

Here... try it from the top and work your way down... Billy’s not all that prolific of late, so you won’t have far to go.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
OrneryWP,

I’m gonna share a bare bones fact with you.

No one here has been saying that a natural right to live, for example, should be able to stop a bullet.

I don’t know which poster you think you’re responding to, but since what you’re saying has nothing to do with what anyone has said, all I hear from you is a waste of my and your time.

Your stawman is dead. Quite hugging him and bury the poor sot.

"If such rights really existed objectively, why build a Justice system?"

Because it’s a relic of previous organizations of society and a more efficient division of labor than doing it all yourself. It’s got nothing to do with whether or not rights objectively exist, it’s an immaterial point.

I already explained how the validity of inherent individual natural rights (I can use more words if that will help) has nothing to do with bullets stopping in midair.

You could stop wasting bandwidth and logically try to disprove what I’ve written.

...Or maybe you can’t, I don’t know.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I wasn’t responding to you up there, Tom, but thanks for playing.

I responded to two other persons’ arguments, but not to yours.

But now that you mention it:
The natural law of "human" rights states that intelligence, existing in circumstances of finite resources, as discretized into individual entities, has inhering to such entities certain moral claims such entities can rightfully make on the power to act with volition and to benefit to the ends the individual sees fit to pursue from the results of choices thereby made. A corollary is that that grouping of entities acting within each other’s potential scope of action, called a society, will tend to maximize each individuals ability to command resources towards the infinite, taken in the aggregate, although never reaching it, and this is true the more correctly the society apprises itself of what those inherent rights are, and organizes itself accordingly.
Yours doesn’t need to be disproven (as if it had proposed anything substantive to begin with), because all it says is that what has happened has happened; well, congratulations. That’s hard determinism, observing the present and patting itself on the back and calling itself moral. It’s pragmatism in a ridiculous-looking costume.

It does absolutely nothing to establish a moral claim for continued action along any path.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
OrneryWP,

I’m gonna share a bare bones fact with you.

No one here has been saying that a natural right to live, for example, should be able to stop a bullet.

I don’t know which poster you think you’re responding to, but since what you’re saying has nothing to do with what anyone has said, all I hear from you is a waste of my and your time.

Your stawman is dead. Quite hugging him and bury the poor sot.

"If such rights really existed objectively, why build a Justice system?"

Because it’s a relic of previous organizations of society and a more efficient division of labor than doing it all yourself. It’s got nothing to do with whether or not rights objectively exist, it’s an immaterial point.

I already explained how the validity of inherent individual natural rights (I can use more words if that will help) has nothing to do with bullets stopping in midair.

You could stop wasting bandwidth and logically try to disprove what I’ve written.

...Or maybe you can’t, I don’t know.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"If such rights really existed objectively, why build a Justice system?"
Simple; Criminality exists.
You know... cfrimainsl... people who do not recognize those rights.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
That human might be you; it might be someone else who thinks you have inherent dignity and rights. But someone must believe you have inherent value. If the rights come from somewhere else, I defy you to get that "somewhere else" to come down from on high and save you. Try it sometime.

If no one believed it, it wouldn’t exist.

***********************

Look, as long as you hold your emotions on your sleeve you will have difficulty with this most basic of concept.

Pay attention.
Its not about YOU.
Its about ME.

MY natural rights are MINE, and you have nothing to say about it.
 
Written By: Don Linsenbach
URL: http://
Oh there most certainly is ... it’s called free will. It is that characteristic which makes us moral agents.
Yes, free will makes us capable of making choices. It doesn’t signify how we ought to choose.

Everybody here understands that "material values" are entirely subjective, so it’s a bit difficult to understand why you don’t also acknowledge that "moral values" are every bit as subjective.
Maybe it’s just me, but you seem to have a very superficial understanding of what constitutes morality.
At it’s simplest level, I’d call it a system of right and wrong behaviour. To save time bickering over semantics, why don’t you tell me what you think morality is. Also "moral claim" and "moral sphere".
In short, you’re just making up this "moral sphere/claim" thing.
Well that’s a convenient way to avoid discussion, isn’t it?
McQ, I’ve written hundreds of words on this and responded, I think, to every point you’ve made. Don’t tell me I’m trying to avoid discussion. I just think you’re asserting something that doesn’t exist. I’d make the same point to somebody who insisted on the existence of a soul. I can’t scientifically prove its non-existence. I can only — to borrow an analogy — throw a dead cat into the church and walk away.
Then name a single other social animal with concerns about morality.
Actually, there’s quite a bit of evidence of rudimentary morality among animals. Rats, dogs, monkeys, vampire bats, etc

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
In going over this again, this morning, a line pops out I must respond to OrneryWP:
Your "right" to life and liberty isn’t enforced here on Earth by some higher power, as history has shown.
To which I respond:

An unsupportable position. Look, the rest of your statement may or may not be correct, but you’re using unsupportable logical flotsam, here.

You will suggest, of course that anyone can kill me. One in here, might even suggest that would be a GOOD thing. (Snicker)

But... if you look closely, you’ll notice I’m still here. Prove to us I’m not being protected by some force you don’t understand. I understand you’re being asked to prove a negative, but it’s not my statement I’m questioning, but yours.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
"I just think you’re asserting something that doesn’t exist."
I think the concept that rights are purely positive and legal, which are the only sort of rights social interaction can establish, is a maladaptive meme. From it and its adherents come every stripe of Comminsim and identity politics. This is because people can decide others have no right to their property and vote themselves money from the public purse, and they can form voting blocks with which they can vie for the all important majority—for participation in majoritarian brokership politics.

There really is no wall separating the idea that society creates rights and the idea that Germeny was perfectly right to decide to kill it’s Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and Undesirables.

1) Screw Whatever’s Law, its used when the person calling it has no reply to the point being made.

2) And the point is real, Jon. I want to see you dance around dance around trying to disprove it. I’m sure you’ll disappoint, but surprise me, lease.

If there’s a line between points A and B, and point A is that society created rights, then is no philosophical blockage which can be reasoned which prevents you fron getting to B, that society can rightfully decide any one person and any group of people in society can be disposed of and their property seized. The claim Jon makes is an implicit endorsement of every unconstitutional tax, everu murder under color of law, and every popular crime done by this government. If he thinks it true for all mankind for all time to date, then Jon’s saying every popular genocide and war, every least crime against humnaity, is OK by him.

It is an inescapable conclusion that you cannot endorse the idea that society creates rights is wholly incompatible with also holding that what society decides can be wrong—you have just said they decide what is rightful. Would proudly stand for what you have just said is wrong.

The perversity of what Jon claims in inherent and inescapable.

It has nothing to with fairies or voodoo.

Compared to almost any individual, society has the might to do what it wants. The only thing that is required of a Pragmatic Libertarian is that they admit this is the likely reality. There is no logic requirement that any sort of libertarian complicate matters by promulgating as an axiom the idea that might makes right.

Which is what you are doing Mr. Henke.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Again, you seem to have failed to grasp what I’ve written:
There is no logic requirement that any sort of libertarian complicate matters by promulgating as an axiom the idea that might makes right.
I don’t posit that "might makes right". I posit that "might makes reality". Whether reality is right or wrong is entirely dependent upon the values of the observer.

This argument...
The claim Jon makes is an implicit endorsement of every unconstitutional tax, everu murder under color of law, and every popular crime done by this government. If he thinks it true for all mankind for all time to date, then Jon’s saying every popular genocide and war, every least crime against humnaity, is OK by him.
....aside from being a blatant misrepresentation of what I’ve written, also suffers from the "appeal to consequences" fallacy. It’s akin to the creationists who argued that evolution could not be true, because that would justify Nazi Germany’s democide; or the theologians who argue that there must be a god, because the alternative was no basis for right and wrong.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Tom, Your response to that shows you didn’t read or don’t understand what I wrote.

You can be as flip as you like, but three comments before you wrote this sits a comment of mine that remains unanswered. At best it is pointless (and at worst it is wrong) to think of our rights as natrual and presocietal, since one’s right to life must be alienable by ourselves and others, which means that it is subject to societal interactions and not extrasocietal at all. Further eroding any thoughts of the utility of your religion is Ornery’s point regarding enforcement.

The reason we will be able to agree to disagree is that you have no answer to Jon’s original question, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?

The answer is, None, except that it provides some people comfort to have a mystic view of Natural Rights.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?
A completely different concept of what constitutes a natural right, and that concept rejects rights as a guarantee or self-enforcing. Until you understand that, you can’t address the other argument.

Now I’ve quit responding to many comments because the commenters simply refuse to consider that point. And because they won’t I see no utility in continued discussion.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
A completely different concept of what constitutes a natural right, and that concept rejects rights as a guarantee or self-enforcing. Until you understand that, you can’t address the other argument.
So a "natural right" is the general sense that violating one’s own life/liberty is morally wrong? How is that different from the survival instinct and free will?
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Godwin’s Law, thats it. Favorite parachute for people out of intellectual ammo.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
I did not invoke Godwins law. I referenced another false appeal to consequences. You’re the only person who has referenced Godwin’s law. It has no place in this discussion.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Wulf,

I’m not being flip.

I’m saying you wrote that I wrote the opposite of what I did write.

There is no point you have made I have not already addressed in another post.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Jon,

I didn’t say you invoked Godwin’s Law either did I? Try to keep up.

I "invoked" it preemptively.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"I referenced another false appeal to consequences."

You haven’t shown how its a false appeal, given what we are discussing.

"It has no place in this discussion."

I’m glad you agree.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
There is no point you have made I have not already addressed in another post.

I guess we will again have to agree to disagree.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Now I’ve quit responding to many comments because the commenters simply refuse to consider that point. And because they won’t I see no utility in continued discussion.
I’ve assumed this wasn’t addressed to me. If I’m mistaken, please let me know.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"Try to keep up."

Sorry about that, that was more than merely flip. I was frustrated at your responding the way you did.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Tom - You still have no response to me; did you accidentally double-post, or were you trying to repeat your point?

-=-=-=-=-
Bithead:
"If such rights really existed objectively, why build a Justice system?"
Simple; Criminality exists.
You know... cfrimainsl... people who do not recognize those rights.
And if all you need to violate a right is to not recognize it, what is the difference between those rights existing and them not existing?

McQ has tried to answer this, but I think it’s wholly insufficient. I’ll get to that below.
Your "right" to life and liberty isn’t enforced here on Earth by some higher power, as history has shown.
To which I respond:

An unsupportable position. Look, the rest of your statement may or may not be correct, but you’re using unsupportable logical flotsam, here.

You will suggest, of course that anyone can kill me. One in here, might even suggest that would be a GOOD thing. (Snicker)

But... if you look closely, you’ll notice I’m still here. Prove to us I’m not being protected by some force you don’t understand. I understand you’re being asked to prove a negative, but it’s not my statement I’m questioning, but yours.
Okay, since I don’t know where you live, technically I can’t prove this to you myself (not that I want to). It may be that some higher force is protecting you right now. If that is the case, you are quite the unique individual in history, which we can see by looking at all the people who have been deprived of life liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and property.
-=-=-=-=-=-
McQ - Even though you may not be responding to me, I’d like to take it upon myself to challenge what you said. One of the basic lines of inquiry here is,
what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, powerless Natural Right and no Right at all?
You answered:
A completely different concept of what constitutes a natural right, and that concept rejects rights as a guarantee or self-enforcing. Until you understand that, you can’t address the other argument.
Okay, so these rights are neither a guarantee nor self-enforcing.

It begs the question: if they don’t (provably) exist outside of our minds, what makes them non-negotiable?
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
"A dog cannot be considered immoral for being a dog, but man certainly can, because unlike a dog, man has a choice. It is choice which is the natural foundation of morality."
I disagree, dogs do make choices. Dogs are very complex choice making machines. If you ever owned a dog you would be aware from observing their behavior that they have mental models of the world and make decisions using that model in addition to feedback from their environment.

Computer programmers only wish that they could make a decision making machine that operated as well as a dog. Imagine being able to program a robot with a program that would allow it survive in the wild the way canines can, or better yet interact with humans in such a way that they valuable tools. Think police dogs, bird dogs, coon dogs, etc.

I would say that a lot of the common-sense scientific knowledge in the area of animal cognition that has been passed down from Skinners day is total bullshit unsubstantiated by hard data. Things like "Fish don’t feel pain", "Dogs are not conscious", etc.

In fact dogs are similar enough to humans that many of the tactics we use with humans work for dogs, punishment and reward for example.
 
Written By: Brian Macker
URL: http://www.brainwacker.com
There is certainly no consensus in our society — though we’re pretty close to a consensus on many related points — that you have a right to live.


I’m sorry, but what a crock of ____. What you say is false by both definitions of consensus in the American Heritage dictionary.

1) As a group we have reached the opinion that people do have a right to live. That’s evidenced by the fact that murder is illegal.
2) There is a general agreement that people do have a right to live. That’s the majority position to somewhere north of 95%. The psychopathic position is the minority position.

Perhaps you meant some other word.
There are people out there who will deny you your life and feel no remorse at all, so clearly (when combatting psychopaths, at least) you’re relying on people who do believe in your "inalienable rights" to stop that psycho from killing you.
These few psychopaths do not destroy the consensus not only because of the definiition of the word consensus either. Even if consensus meant unanimity we could still discount those people. Why? Because they have defective brains. Why should the opinions of psychopaths be considered on moral issues?

Does the fact that lions and tigers and bears will also not respect your rights count against the concept also?

 
Written By: Brian Macker
URL: http://www.brainwacker.com
Skorj,
Having wasted far to much time in philosophy classes, I’d point out that the usual term for this argument is "the is-ought gap". You can’t reason from non-normative first principles to prove a normative conclusion, because there is simply no rule of deduction that works that way. You can’t reason from an "is" to an "ought" unless you want to claim some normative principles as axioms to start with.
I thought hard about that, and do not have the philosophical background to know if I am barking up a tree that has already been explored but I think the general consensus on this is wrong. Not so much because you can’t start with a non-normative first principles and end with normative one, that may be true, but more because you don’t need to. Why do it that way, as far as I know there is no knowledge that was ever gained that way. Even the senses you rely on were not built on this principle. The correct way to go about it is to take a guess, and then test in agains reality, you know trial and error. I tend to be a pan-darwinist in this regard. I think all knowledge is not foundationalist. It really rests on nothing. That however really isn’t a problem. It’s the notion that we need foundations in order to understand reality that is the mistake.

Moral systems are but one more aspect of reality. Now with the proper definition of morality I can arrive at normative statments from non-normative ones. For instance, if I define morality as "Doing what is in your enlighted self-interest" and "I define the self as the whole bundle of your genetics, body, knowledge, culture, social relationships, kin, and so forth, then I can make normative statements that are derived from non-normative ones.

For instance, I can say it is bad to put your hand in that meat grinder. That is a normative statment, and by saying it I am communicating to you that it would not be in your self interest to do so.

I can further do this with other things such a murder. There are a whole host of traits that humans have such as fallibility, tendency to habit, ability to recognize others, desire for retribution, and so forth that makes murder empircally bad for the self. Murder is a objectively bad strategy for enhancing ones self interest, if you consider the self as a whole.

The fact that there are people out there who do not recognize this does not matter to my argument. That Stalin got what he valued (or did he) by abject immorality is not issue. From the perspective of his entire self his strategy was an abject failure. On a genetic level, he left no heirs, on a cultural level he crippled his society, on a social relation level he had no one he could trust, etc.

I believe like Henke that moral systems evolve. I do not agree with alot of what he says but I do think in these terms. I think of moral systems like I think of organisms. Some moral systems are predatory, some are symbiotic, etc. I don’t think we just deduced our moral precepts from some axiomatic assumptions. These are not "social constructs" in the sense of just being made of whole cloth. They are evolved systems. Muhammedism is as much a moral system as any natural rights system, even though it does allow what is essentially murder. I would categorize Islam as a predatory moral system.

Like organisms, you can no more build a moral system from whole cloth than you could just slap together a working jackalope and expect it to survive in the real world. What you can do is make incremental changes, and certain paths are block by the current state of evolution. One would start with a herbavore like a cow and expect it to evolve in one step to the life of a carnivore. There are too many different attributes to change at one. I don’t think one can get from say Islam to a natural rights morality in one step. It just isn’t going to happen.

I think part of the problem here is that some people are arguing from within a moral framework, they are arguing from the perspective of a rabbit, while Henke is instead trying to argue from the perspective of an alien inspecting the entire range of organisms on a planet. Certainly the rabbit understands that you don’t eat other rabbits, but the alien sees scorpions scarfing down their peers. The rabbits are arguing that scorpions are not organisms because the eat their young, and siblings. But that view is wrong. Even bad moral systems are moral systems.

Furthermore, I don’t think the process of evolution of our moral system, even in the enlightened west has reached an endpoint. I certainly don’t think Libertarianism is an end point.

Also note that moral systems like organisms can have some traits that are advantagious while having others that are not. The individual items themselves may not matter as much as the whole system working together. Thus, American style liberal rights based morality gave the U.S. quite an advantage even though at the same time we had things like slavery going on. It was the whole package that was objectively better than other systems, that might have been correct on the issue of slavery but not on the issue of property rights.

It’s getting late so I am going to have to leave it at that. I would apprecate your criticism. Especially on the issue of the is-ought problem.

BTW, I some of what everyone had to say here, including Henke. I think Henke is missing some important issues about rights, like how can he know when to use his gun if he doesn’t know what his rights are. Rights are about expectations. Even predatory moral systems like the mafia are rights based, like the right not to be snitched on. Rights set expectations between people.

I also don’t think Henke’s approach is so unique. It has the flavor of Popper or Hayek, some Evolutary ethics, with a large splash of the errors of sociology. His arguments against natural rights are equally applicable to "social contracts", one need simply ask "What social contract? I didn’t sign any social contract. I don’t see no social contract. I don’t need no stinking social contract."

I don’t find the Beck crowd that compelling either, but at least they have a working theory. Henke seems to have only a criticism. That is the correct analogy to between evolutionary theory and ID. ID is not a theory, only a criticism, and one that makes no predictions. Natural rights, and natural law are quite robust and do qualify as theories.

Rabbits are theories also, theories about how to survive by eating plants in a meadow inhabited by foxes.

 
Written By: Brian Macker
URL: http://www.brainwacker.com
And if all you need to violate a right is to not recognize it, what is the difference between those rights existing and them not existing?
Oh, Now I get it.... you’re seeking guarantees. How can someone so rooted in rugged independance suddenly be so dependant on law and government to guarantee his rights?
It may be that some higher force is protecting you right now. If that is the case, you are quite the unique individual in history, which we can see by looking at all the people who have been deprived of life liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and property.


Actually, given our relative place in history as a nation on the scoreboard of freedoms,(As in... we live in the greatest single expression of freedom in history, else this conversation wouldn’t be taking place...) I would suggest I am far from unique.

That point aside, what seems to be your problem is your perception of morality, as I mentioned in another thread. Allow me to suggest something to you... and I don’t expect an immidiate response;

There is no individual morality. Moraliy is a group thing, else it doesn’t exist. The individual choice enters the picture when they choose identifying themselves with one group or another, as seems best to them. Your arguments about how you’re not a moral foundationalist fly in the face of that, but I’m starting to think this is your biggest problem as regards your conception of rights in general, and how they are enforced, in particular.

I think, on the whole, you under-estimate the linkage between the western Judeo-Christian ethic, their concept of morality, and what their moral basis did for the recognition of rights.... I suggest it to be no accident that the best expression of freedom ever to come down the pike, came inside of that basic framework.

Shorter: The reason you’re having such a problem understanding the nature of the building is because you refuse to acknowledge the nature of it’s foundation.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Oh, Now I get it.... you’re seeking guarantees. How can someone so rooted in rugged independance suddenly be so dependant on law and government to guarantee his rights?
Who said anything about law or government? What he’s asking after is consequence. If there’s no natural consequence of this vague, amorphous "moral sphere", then why should we take your moral values — your "ought" — into consideration?

We’re not asking if "natural rights" are a physical entity; we’re asking if they have any natural consequences. If not, then they de facto don’t exist.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
No, it simply means we haven’t identified them as such, yet, in much the same way as dumping crap into lake Erie had long term consequences we didn’t discover until well down the road.

But here’s a clue as to what such consequences might entail, in the form of a rather simplish if/then statement:

If providing electrcty in sufficient amounts to a light bulb provdies light, what are the consequences of the removal of such power?

As I said earlier this thread:
You are suggesting that natural law cannot be viewed as scientific. I know those aren’t the words you’re using but that ends up being the argument in reality. I would argue to the contrary... that there is a direct and observable relationship that can be tracked scientifically both in history an in current day;

The societies that have survived are the ones that respect the rights that Jefferson listed, and the ones that did not, did not survive. Again, I’m quite sure that you will label this mere consequentialism, but there it is; (What, after all was Newton but an observer of consequences?)

Jefferson, for all of his faults, seems to have been a fairly accurate observer of the world around him in terms of societal behavior, and of human nature, both on a individual and collective basis... Just as Newton was before him as regards gravity. He observed that nations, and the people in them, tend to do better when certain rights are respected, in much the same way as sir Isaac noticed that people who didn’t dive off cliffs at a tendency to last longer than people who did.
I would refine that statement a bit and suggest that societies that have survived and done well have done so to the degree that they have respected these basic rights.

That’s the positive aspect of the relationship; You respect these rights, your society does well, long term, and provides the biggest and strongest basis of freedom. Doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to understand what consequences might be of not respecting such rights.

And once again, that’s fairly easy to prove by means of historical trend;
there are certainly other things that can prop up a culture and a people, such as raw power. But in the end, such efforts fail.



 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
It doesn’t get any more convincing when you repeat your aggregate utilitarianism arguments. None of us believes that aggregate utilitarianism is the basis for individual moral systems. If we accepted that, it would imply what others have falsely claimed I’ve said: that society determines moral right and wrong, not individuals.

The consequence of that would be that, if societies could be shown to survive longer with, say, universal health care, then universal health care would become a "moral right" simply because it would increase social utility.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
What is a society, Jon, what is a culture, but a group of individuals who think pretty much the same way?

But here again, you underplay the role of foundational morals. Our cultural foundation is one that in general holds that the individual, not the government deals with such matters as healthcare. Granted... hell, MORE than granted that that original perspective has been twisted over the last two centuries... particularly in the last 50 years... another case of the left using the power of government to change, not reinforce the culture....but that’s where we started.

And we’re not talking about social utility here, but utility to each individual.... and under those constraints, Universal Healthcare simply doesn’t qualify; From both the standpoint of both the individual, and the whole, it’s been a dismal failure everywhere it’s been tried. Bad example. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a GOOD example to back your point. I’d welcome your taking another shot at it, however.

That point aside...
None of us believes that aggregate utilitarianism is the basis for individual moral systems.
How many are you claiming to speak for, Jon?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Bithead:
And if all you need to violate a right is to not recognize it, what is the difference between those rights existing and them not existing?
Oh, Now I get it.... you’re seeking guarantees. How can someone so rooted in rugged independance suddenly be so dependant on law and government to guarantee his rights?
Wow. You stuffed so many words in my mouth, I’m speechless.

I’m not seeking a guarantee here. I’m asking where the evidence is that a right objectively exists. Any at all. Even if it can’t stop a bullet.

What I have is a world where only my actions and the actions of my fellow man seem to stand between me and the infringement of these "rights" I cherish so deeply. If the enforcement is so obviously negotiable, why do we assume that the terms are not?

And where did that rugged individualist tripe come from? I’m a hard determinist, which pretty much makes everything un-special and unoriginal.
It may be that some higher force is protecting you right now. If that is the case, you are quite the unique individual in history, which we can see by looking at all the people who have been deprived of life liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and property.
Actually, given our relative place in history as a nation on the scoreboard of freedoms,(As in... we live in the greatest single expression of freedom in history, else this conversation wouldn’t be taking place...) I would suggest I am far from unique.
You seem to be confusing "other people" for "some higher force." You don’t give other human beings credit for the freedom you enjoy?
That point aside, what seems to be your problem is your perception of morality, as I mentioned in another thread. Allow me to suggest something to you... and I don’t expect an immidiate response;

There is no individual morality. Moraliy is a group thing, else it doesn’t exist. The individual choice enters the picture when they choose identifying themselves with one group or another, as seems best to them. Your arguments about how you’re not a moral foundationalist fly in the face of that, but I’m starting to think this is your biggest problem as regards your conception of rights in general, and how they are enforced, in particular.

I think, on the whole, you under-estimate the linkage between the western Judeo-Christian ethic, their concept of morality, and what their moral basis did for the recognition of rights.... I suggest it to be no accident that the best expression of freedom ever to come down the pike, came inside of that basic framework.

Shorter: The reason you’re having such a problem understanding the nature of the building is because you refuse to acknowledge the nature of it’s foundation.
Ah, is that "my problem"?

I don’t recall using the words "moral foundationist," so let’s not get quite so fancy. I’m an amoralist. I deny the validity of all moral distinctions until proven otherwise... and that means individual morality as well as group morality.

Whether or not the belief in morality played a role in the establishment of "rights" really is no concern of mine in this debate, and essentially useless to your position. I couldn’t care less how so-and-so justified the system to themselves.

Perhaps you are too quick to say it’s my problem. The most troubling possibility, between us, is on your side: that you may have no objective underpinning to your concepton of morality, and thus no foundation for a whole series of beliefs except other articles of faith. I, on the other hand, am the skeptic, well used to the idea that I can’t fall back on some eternal verities when the chips are down.

Either you can prove that these "rights" exist outside our minds, or you cannot. I’m betting you cannot. And since these rights are within our minds, and seemingly enforced by us alone, they are a fully negotiable useful fiction.

Your subsequent appeal to the success of our country is fine and dandy, but has absolutely squat to do with proving the moral grounds of your argument.
-=-=-=-=-
Brian Macker -
There is certainly no consensus in our society — though we’re pretty close to a consensus on many related points — that you have a right to live.
I’m sorry, but what a crock of ____. What you say is false by both definitions of consensus in the American Heritage dictionary.

1) As a group we have reached the opinion that people do have a right to live. That’s evidenced by the fact that murder is illegal.
2) There is a general agreement that people do have a right to live. That’s the majority position to somewhere north of 95%. The psychopathic position is the minority position.

Perhaps you meant some other word.
Nope, I meant consensus.

Your point #1 is a blatant tautology. Murder — that is, "unlawful killing" — is by definition illegal. Unlawful killing is unlawful? Go figure!
What your argument really adds up to is that the politically relevant — particularly the state — have declared that attempts (successful or not) at ending of life processes of specifically privileged creatures ("persons," which is defined by political decision) under certain circumstances will, if discovered, be punished or prevented by agents of the state (whether they be private citizens acting under the authority of the Constitution or not).

That’s a long way from natural rights.

Your point #2 assumes the looser definition of consensus (since obviously there is no unanimity on this issue), which is derived directly from something particularly objective — us sensing the same thing (break it down: con-sensus) — but which makes exceptions for the sake of convenience. It’s always inconvenient to have several people telling the larger group that what they think they’re sensing is a useful delusion.

Most people don’t understand the nature of the fiat money they carry in their wallet. They simply believe it has value, and so does everyone else, it seems. Yet the reality if the situation is quite different. Try getting them to prove $100 has X amount of value; they can’t do it except by getting someone else to agree it has value.

Always beware the people who mistake internal consensus for the real deal.
There are people out there who will deny you your life and feel no remorse at all, so clearly (when combatting psychopaths, at least) you’re relying on people who do believe in your "inalienable rights" to stop that psycho from killing you.
These few psychopaths do not destroy the consensus not only because of the definiition of the word consensus either. Even if consensus meant unanimity we could still discount those people. Why? Because they have defective brains. Why should the opinions of psychopaths be considered on moral issues?
Consensus does mean unanimity if you want to apply it to the entire group, though if you check different dictionaries and thesauri you will find some disagreement. Merriam-Webster is not Roget’s is not American Heritage. Check out the roots of the word sometime. It’s easy to achieve your brand of "consensus" if you just count out everyone who disagrees with you.

And it’s definitely not fair to say psychopaths have "defective brains." Many of those psychopaths, people who feel no remorse when they kill, are concentrated in the Special Forces (cited from "On Killing" by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman). It’s a minority condition, to be sure — perhaps 2-3% of the male population — but why call it a defect? Because it doesn’t allow them to fit into your precious consensus?
It can be a very powerful survival tool in given environments, meaning that if the right pressures were applied, it would likely assert itself more broadly in the population and no longer be in such a minority position. "Defects" are what some people ignorantly call anything causing immoderate behavior in their given environment.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
I’m not seeking a guarantee here. I’m asking where the evidence is that a right objectively exists. Any at all. Even if it can’t stop a bullet.
Good luck with that. I’ve tried asking that question — of what consequence is a "natural right"? — in a dozen different ways, to no avail. I think McQ and Dale have taken their ball and gone home.

This is a bit like arguing about the existence of a "soul". Those who believe in it find it self-evidence as they look at nature. How else to explain their worldview and basis for morality? Those who don’t believe in it wonder what’s causing that mass delusion.

I’m also reminded of the Proofs of God (which I will paraphrase:

TRANSCENDENTAL ARGUMENT
(1) If reason exists then rights exist.
(2) Reason exists.
(3) Therefore, rights exist.

ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT (I)
(1) I define Rights to be X.
(2) Since I can conceive of X, X must exist.
(3) Therefore, Rights exist.


ARGUMENT FROM INTELLIGENCE [aka Billy Beck argument]
(1) Look, there’s really no point in me trying to explain the whole thing to you stupid [abject morons] — it’s too complicated for you to understand. Rights exist whether you like it or not.
(2) Therefore, Rights exist.


And my own addition — the appeal to consequences — which pops up often:

1) If there were no natural rights, then I couldn’t be upset about totalitarian governments.
2) I’m upset about totalitarian governments.
3) Therefore, natural rights exist.

 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
You seem to be confusing "other people" for "some higher force." You don’t give other human beings credit for the freedom you enjoy?
Actually, yes, I am they’re entitled to recognition, as well... but that wasn’t the topic, was it?

As to the rest.... thread scramble... the comment on Morality, et al was aimed at Jon. My fault, sorry.

At least, though, it did create an interesting response;
Your subsequent appeal to the success of our country is fine and dandy, but has absolutely squat to do with proving the moral grounds of your argument
To the contrary, it does, unless you’re going to argue that immoral countries thrive at the same rates ours has. You do know that’s not true, right?
Either you can prove that these "rights" exist outside our minds, or you cannot. I’m betting you cannot. And since these rights are within our minds, and seemingly enforced by us alone, they are a fully negotiable useful fiction.
And we go back to the question of cultural success; In my view it’s a signpost one cannot ignore.

Jon;
I’ve tried asking that question — of what consequence is a "natural right"? — in a dozen different ways, to no avail
Apparently, becuase you choose to ignore the answers you get.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Try your question this way, Jon;

What are the consequences of breaking a law if you don’t get caught? Are there none at all?


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
What are the consequences of breaking a law if you don’t get caught? Are there none at all?
For the person who broke the law? With the caveat that my answer might vary depending on the circumstance, I’d venture to say "no". (except insofar as any action has a consequence) The mere fact that it was against the law imposes no additional consequence in itself, unless the person is caught.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Your subsequent appeal to the success of our country is fine and dandy, but has absolutely squat to do with proving the moral grounds of your argument
To the contrary, it does, unless you’re going to argue that immoral countries thrive at the same rates ours has. You do know that’s not true, right?
Oh, I do, I do.

I also know that Fascism achieved a fantastic deal of success durings its time, and but for several strings of luck, probably could have won the war. Then we’d have some blond-haired, blue-eyed boy sitting in your place saying how self-evident it is that National Socialism is the moral way to live, and gosh, ain’t it so dandy we finally killed the last Jew last year. I’m sure they’d be thrilled that they’d made so much progress in genetics and biology, and would soon be able to engineer out the last traces of homosexuality and other signs of unfitness.

The Communists and democratic republics never could have achieved such a thing, they’d say. The parliamentarians had been screwed ever since bad weather sank their "D-Day" operation — they would have had so much more success if they had gone the next day, with that break in the weather! The Commies’ way of life was thoroughly delegitimized after Operation Barbarossa took down Moscow two months ahead of the first snows, and the game was over for the democracies when Rommel ordered the Bomb dropped on New York. I mean, historical inevitability and all that — natural law said it must be so.

We owe some things to plain good luck — the plausible counterfactuals are just too easy to build. Or are you asserting that this was all calculated by a naturally superior style of government that was never in any real danger?

It’s clear: imperfect people fought damn hard, and nearly lost this time around, trying to preserve the various freedoms we have today. History is not the long straight march of freedom. So appeals to success don’t persuade me. Democracy didn’t survive its first experiment in Greece; by your logic, what were people supposed to believe for the next few millennia, that freedom and democracy were the way to go but just hadn’t gotten off the ground? That there was no reason other countries thrived?
Either you can prove that these "rights" exist outside our minds, or you cannot. I’m betting you cannot. And since these rights are within our minds, and seemingly enforced by us alone, they are a fully negotiable useful fiction.
And we go back to the question of cultural success; In my view it’s a signpost one cannot ignore.
Fine. Explain how the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire, and how the Empire fell to a bunch of wandering barbarians. You seem to have it all figured out.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Jon;
For the person who broke the law? With the caveat that my answer might vary depending on the circumstance, I’d venture to say "no". (except insofar as any action has a consequence) The mere fact that it was against the law imposes no additional consequence in itself, unless the person is caught.
Fair enough. However as you might have expected there’s a bit of a problem with your answer. There are many consequences that come to mind. First being a breakdown of the rule of law. The effects of that arguable at least in the short term, but not in the long term. In the longer term the breakdown of the rule of law intended to get a little on the messy side to say the very least. that way lies Lebanon for example. I am not suggesting that all laws are just. However, that certainly is a consequence of lawbreaking without getting caught.

Perhaps, of greater import, is the idea that under those circumstances the culture and its values take a hit. We seem to agree that this country that were living in and its people and its culture, are so far the single best expression of individual freedom and the history of the world. What happens to those individual freedoms, with all those little tiny hits on the culture wearing away at the foundation? It’s as I said previously. The reaction to such action, the consequences you and I might never lived to see. That, however does not make them less real. OrneryWP ’s example of the Roman Empire fits here rather well; The little tiny hits on the culture that most certainly at the time they thought to be without consequence, ended up having significant consequence in a long term... Longer than most of them could see forward. Keep reading.

OrneryWP:

For all of the detail you put into that long answer, (and, well done by the way)... he seem to have left something out. The thousand years only lasted four.. And that, only because of the military might applied to keep its standing. So, it’s as I said; there are certainly other things that can prop up a culture and a people, such as raw power. But in the end, such efforts fail.
Fine. Explain how the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire, and how the Empire fell to a bunch of wandering barbarians. You seem to have it all figured out.
That’s actually rather easy, Government expands.

THe rest of their ability to expand, byeond what mere military might would explain, was addressed... in, I thought, a rather succinct fashion in a film of some years ago... perhaps you’ve heard of it...
...apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
Bread and circuses you see does work for a while... even for a conquered people.

As to how they fell to a bunch of barbarians... that, too, is rather simple;

The Romans took on luxury. They forgot that they were conquerors. They turned over many of the functions of their rule over to one time enemies. They got contemptuous and lazy and tried to absorb these onetime enemies, forgetting to fear them. They paid lip service to their ancient laws while not understanding the vision upon which they were founded.

Tell me, does that whole scenario sound like any country you’ve heard of recently?

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com

 
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