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Thoughts on Heller ...
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, June 26, 2008

From the SCOTUS blog, speaking of the Supreme Court's majority opinion:
It does remove all doubt — and there has been doubt about this for years — that the Amendment means that there is an individual right to have a pistol to keep in one’s own home, in operating condition, for purposes of “confrontation” — warding off intruders, or perhaps, aggressive family members.

It also seems to mean (though this is only implicit) that there is, for the first time, a constitutional right to self-defense — or, at least, a common-law right of self-defense that is close to being of constitutional rank.
For the first time?

Hardly.

The amendment was written to acknowledge the inalienable human right of self defense and to protect it via the Constitution (something which had never been done before). And it's a good thing too - otherwise we'd have seen guns banned by government decades ago.

This isn't about the establishment of any "right". The right to self-defense pre-existed this court and this country.

The Constitution simply acknowledges that fact and prohibits this government from infringing upon it. It seems that people have to be reminded that the Bill of Rights places restrictions on the power of government, not individuals. That was and remains its entire purpose.

To somehow believe that individual right to self-defense has been finally established "Constitutionally" by this ruling is nonsense.

On incorporation:
It is absolutely clear that the Bill of Rights’ specific guarantees of individual rights do not apply to any level below the federal government – that is, to state, county and city governments — unless the Court has ruled explicitly that they are to apply at those levels by a process that is called “incorporation.” The Court has read into the Fourteenth Amendment — an amendment written to restrict state and local government powers — many of the rights in the first ten amendments. That process began in the late 19th Century, and continued up through the first three quarters of the 20th Century.

But the process has not meant a total absorption of the Bill of Rights in the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment right to be charged by a grand jury has not been applied to the states; neither has the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial in a civil case. And neither has the Second Amendment.

But conservative jurists, like those who made the majority in the Heller case, usually are not fond of lifting parts of the Bill of Rights out for inclusion under the Fourteenth Amendment. Given the glowing rhetoric applied to the virtues of an individual right to have a gun, perhaps that reluctance might be overcome.
This is going to be a very interesting part of the case. While it is easy to argue the legal particulars of this case in an effort to narrow the ruling (DC is a federal entity, not a state), there's no question the 2nd Amendment was written for all Americans. Whether or not the Court sees fit to incorporate the ruling will tell us how far-reaching the decision will be.

A court challenge to the NY or Chicago gun laws may provide that legal opportunity.

There are some additional interesting questions asked at the SCOTUS blog concerning the ruling:
Second among the issue not resolved Thursday is the standard of review that the Court will apply to judge the constitutionality of any other law that differs, even in a small detail, from the District of Columbia handgun ban that was nullified.

[...]

Third, there is uncertainy about just why some forms of gun regulation already appear to have passed whatever test the Court did apply, perhaps only temporarily, in Heller. Why does the Amendment not protect, for example, carrying a concealed weapon, as the opinion seems to say? Or, why wouldn’t the right apply, as the opinion also seems to imply, to a gun being carried innocently into the Senate Office Building, as a U.S. senator’s aide once did?

[...]

Fourth, the Court opts not to rule on whether laws requiring a license to have a gun, even to have it only at home, so that part of the District of Columbia law survives — but perhaps only until the next test case. The NRA surely would not leave licensing controls in repose.

[...]

Fifth, what kinds of guns does one have a constitutional right to possess, even if that right is limited to one’s own home? The opinion gives some hints — “weapons typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes” — but the most that one can say with confidence is that pistols, easily loaded and easily handled, are definitely within the right of possession, in operable condition in the home, for self-defense. Is a rifle something one can constitutionally have at home, even though not readily useable if one is suddenly attacked? Or a repeating pistol?

[...]

Sixth, does a gun owner carry the constitutional right with him (or her) when he leaves the house or the apartment? The right explicitly recognized in the Heller decision is strictly confined to “hearth and home.” Does that include the front porch, a balcony, the yard, the front sidewalk, the street, the neighborhood? The Court does not set the limits.
The opportunity, on both sides, to carry the legal wrangling on for years is obviously there.

In the meantime, I plan to exercise my inherent and inalienable human right to self-defense as I have these past decades - as I see fit to do so, not as some court decides for me. And, of course, that means yes, I am prepared to pay whatever perverse "legal" penalty which may come with the exercise of what should be a common sense right we all understand (although I am encouraged by this ruling). But then I've always said I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6. To paraphrase Patton - I'll leave the latter for the poor dumb bastard that threatens my life.
 
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Comments
"...the inalienable human right of self defense..."
Can someone suggest to me one or two well written pieces on the origin of this (and other) inalienable human right? I’d like to understand the libertarian underpinnings for assertions such as this, which I assume are secular in nature.



 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Politic and morality are confusing only to people who’ve lost their principles, Grim.

Take a good long look at yourself, and then write those articles yourself.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Whose life are you living? Whose thoughts are you thinking?

That’s the quick method for locating the origin of inalienable rights.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Can someone suggest to me one or two well written pieces on the origin of this (and other) inalienable human right?
From Wikipedia (for starters):
The right of self-defense (also called alter ego defense, defense of others, defense of a third person) is the right for civilians acting on their own behalf to engage in violence for the sake of self-defense of one’s own life or the lives of others, including the use of deadly force.
I don’t normally refer people to W, but in this case they have a fairly decent discussion fo the origins of Self Defense as a right.

One of the other things I also look to is the history of jurisprudence regarding self defense. You can go as far back into history as you may wish and virtually every civilization accepted as normal the right to self defense, even to the act of killing another in yours or anothers defense. It is not a stretch to include the use of deadly weapons in the act of deadly force for survival.

As far as "the libertarian underpinnings for assertions such as this" you will have to do a bit of digging on your own. I know what I need to know and as McQ says:
"I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6."
For myself, ’Nuff said!

(Side Note: Anyone know the source of that quote?)
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Can someone suggest to me one or two well written pieces on the origin of this (and other) inalienable human right? I’d like to understand the libertarian underpinnings for assertions such as this, which I assume are secular in nature.
You can start with John Locke - I believe it is his "Second Treatise on Government". Gives you a good foundation for the "assertion".

On of my favorites for explaining inherent rights is Tibor Machan - 2 books: "Human Rights and Human Liberties" as well as "Individuals and Their Rights". Also Fredrich Hayek’s "The Constitution of Liberty".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Gives you a good foundation for the "assertion".
Do recall, McQ, that this is the guy that thinks the cops can just wander into your house whenever they want...

Cause kids might have been let alone...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Politic and morality are confusing only to people who’ve lost their principles, Grim.

Take a good long look at yourself, and then write those articles yourself.
Sure they are Billy only to zealots such as yourself as Mao, Hitler, John Calvin, John Brown are things self-evident...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Grimshaw, re:
Can someone suggest to me one or two well written pieces on the origin of this (and other) inalienable human right? I’d like to understand the libertarian underpinnings for assertions such as this, which I assume are secular in nature.
Will this do?

"I am a human being. I am no one’s property and no one’s rightful subject, and I am likewise properly subject to no deity or deities."

I say so.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Hey Scott Jacobs, just for fun, try reading (because I assume you didn’t the first time) what I actually wrote, take notes, and then see if I ever asserted that "the cops can just wander into your house whenever they want..."

To paraphrase Billy, "Cite it, I dare you."

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
To the rest of you, thanks for the suggestions. It was a sincerely asked question void of sarcasm or veiled criticism. And yes, McQ, it is an assertion. What else would you call it? It’s not provable after all.

"Politic and morality are confusing only to people who’ve lost their principles, Grim."
Billy, lots of people have principles and they differ. So is someone confused or are principles relative and equally valid from person to person? Now maybe you’d conclude that anyone with principles that vary from yours doesn’t really have principles, at least if you’re talking about foundational, cosmic principles.






 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Ron, what if you’re wrong? It’s possible, after all. You can’t disprove that you’re not the property or subject of some unknown, higher level being. Hypothetically, if true, then what?

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
what if you’re wrong

I’m not wrong.

Hypothetically, if true, then what?

But you asked for a well written piece on the origin of my inaleinable rights. I gave you one; it’s from *me*. Am I not authoritative enough when it comes to *my* life?

Or do you think that somehow I have to make anticipatory "what if" allowances for the possible existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or His Noodleship’s more ancient and admitedly more thoroughly discussed predecessors?

Tell you what: you prove the existence of a deity, and that I’m his/her/its subject, and I’ll retract what I wrote.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Grim:

In an attempt to bridge the gap, I would suggest looking at the issue from the other way around — i.e. what gives anyone else the right to take your life, master your person, or control your brain? Even animals instinctually balk at anyone or anything trying to do so.

Other than that, I would second McQ’s suggestions of Locke and Hayek. Mills is also a good place to look. If you’re really adventurous you could try Hegel’s "Philosophy of Right" but it’s incredibly difficult to grasp (I’ve been slowly going over it for a few years now, but I can’t say that I understand it any better).
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I would second McQ’s suggestions of Locke and Hayek
Touching those books would cause him pain...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
what gives anyone else the right to take your life, master your person, or control your brain?
The ability to do so. See: Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Il Sung, Jong Il, Hussein, etc.

I think you have it half right, Ron. Your natural rights are those you declare as a sovereign being, as long as you can protect them by force - either force of arms if you’re a loner, or through force of law if you live in civilization.

If you’re lying in a jail cell or in a mass grave, did you ever really have rights? Or did you just think you did?
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
If you’re lying in a jail cell or in a mass grave, did you ever really have rights? Or did you just think you did?

I would still have them while alive; I am would just be being prevented from exercising them.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
The ability to do so. See: Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Il Sung, Jong Il, Hussein, etc.
So having the power to do so gives one the right to do so? At least you cited those who agree with you.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Touching those books would cause him pain...
They caused me pain when I first read them too. Won’t kill him.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
This guy, they might...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Ron, I did ask for that. Then I asked some follow-up questions which occurred to me. I wasn’t attempting to claim you’re wrong about anything you wrote. I did assert that you can’t prove you’re not ’owned’ by something else and then I asked, out of curiosity, what then. Sure, you can state this:
"I am a human being. I am no one’s property and no one’s rightful subject, and I am likewise properly subject to no deity or deities."
but you can’t prove it. You can only believe it. I’m not saying it’s not true but I wonder if it was true, what that would mean to you. It’s a stretch hypothetical I’m sure, so it’s no big deal if you don’t even want to discuss it. Just curious.

 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
"i.e. what gives anyone else the right to take your life, master your person, or control your brain? Even animals instinctually balk at anyone or anything trying to do so."
MichaelW -

To the first question, I’m not sure, but I could counter with:

Someone else claims the right to take or master your life. Why does your claimed right supersede his?

Your word vs. his? Because you own your life? Why do you own your life and not the guy who claims he does?

Seems that Jeff is right - your right exists to the extent that you can enforce it. If it exists outside of that, by who’s authority? I assume you’ll say your own, but that just puts us right back to the beginning I think.

Not all animals balk at being ’mastered’, do they? All sorts of domesticated animals are happily mastered (as far as can be ascertained anyway).


 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Ron -

I wrote:

I’m not saying it’s not true but I wonder if it was true, what that would mean to you

but I meant:

I’m not saying it’s not true but I wonder if it was not true, what that would mean to you
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
So having the power to do so gives one the right to do so?
Doesn’t it? If are rights are any that we declare for ourselves as sovereign beings, isn’t the right to rule over weaker beings one of those rights? Does the wildebeast have the right to live without molestation from the lion? According to Ron he does, up until the lion tears him apart. Did his rights ever really exist?

It seems to me that these are all philosophical constructs, not rights, per se. Just like morality - is it an absolute? What is it informed by - religion? Philosophy? Whose religion? Whose set of precepts?

Likewise, did the Africans born into and dying in slavery in this country ever really have rights? How can a right exist without the means to secure it?
At least you cited those who agree with you.
I never said I agree with them, LIAR.
Where did I say that?
Cite that. I dare you.[/billybeck]
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
To the first question, I’m not sure, but I could counter with:

Someone else claims the right to take or master your life. Why does your claimed right supersede his?


Your word vs. his? Because you own your life? Why do you own your life and not the guy who claims he does?

Seems that Jeff is right - your right exists to the extent that you can enforce it. If it exists outside of that, by who’s authority? I assume you’ll say your own, but that just puts us right back to the beginning I think.
If you are correct, then "rights" are something that either someone else gives you or that you must exact from them. In your example, you have to "enforce" in order to have the "right."

The way I’m suggesting to look at it separates "right" from "enforcement." In other words, would one be justified in "enforcing" the alleged "right" absent any other acknowledgment of it? You’re not wrong to say that "rights are only as good as the ability to enforce them" but that doesn’t answer the question of where those rights are derived.

At base, self defense is a natural reaction to an attempt to take one’s life. Everyone has this reaction, regardless of how successfully we defend ourselves, or what manner we choose to actually do so. Does that make it a right? I would argue that it does simply because if my reaction is no different than anyone else’s in the same situation, I must implicitly recognize that each and every other person’s reaction is as correct as my own. If we are all therefore "correct" in our reactions, there must be a "right" to defend one’s life. Otherwise, all of our reactions are "incorrect" and nature is somehow perfectly flawed.
Not all animals balk at being ’mastered’, do they? All sorts of domesticated animals are happily mastered (as far as can be ascertained anyway).
Sure, but they had to be trained/bred to be that way. Humans can be trained to be slaves too, but that doesn’t mean it’s a natural way of being. Spend some time with a two year old (if you haven’t already) and I’ll bet you’ll find that "No!" is a common word. People don’t naturally want to be subjected to someone else’s will, but like animals they can be trained to be subservient.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Doesn’t it? If are rights are any that we declare for ourselves as sovereign beings, isn’t the right to rule over weaker beings one of those rights?
Where did that construct come from? Who said that rights = anything we declare for ourselves?
Does the wildebeast have the right to live without molestation from the lion? According to Ron he does, up until the lion tears him apart. Did his rights ever really exist?
You’re conflating "right" with the ability to "enforce". Of course the wildebeast has the right to defend itself. Whether it will be successful in doing so is another matter altogether.
It seems to me that these are all philosophical constructs, not rights, per se.
I don’t disagree. Our entire world is made up of philosophical constructs. Unless you’re prepared to deal with literally everything on a solely physical, material level, you have to deal with philosophical constructs.
Likewise, did the Africans born into and dying in slavery in this country ever really have rights? How can a right exist without the means to secure it?
I would argue that they did have such rights. The ability to enforce them is an entirely different matter. What you are really trying to differentiate is "civilization" from "the wild." In the wild rights don’t matter so much as your ability to defend them. In contrast, the foundation of any civilization, whether its a village or a nation, requires that at least some rights are recognized amongst the citizenry. But, again, that doesn’t approach the issue of whether or not rights exist or where they come from. All that deals with is how rights are enforced.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Ron:
"Am I not authoritative enough when it comes to *my* life?"
"’Self-appointed’ suits me fine."

(Hitchens — "Young Contrarian", p. 81) Goddamned right.

Grimshaw:
"Billy, lots of people have principles and they differ. So is someone confused or are principles relative and equally valid from person to person? Now maybe you’d conclude that anyone with principles that vary from yours doesn’t really have principles, at least if you’re talking about foundational, cosmic principles."
I don’t know exactly what you mean with "cosmic".

Would you please put up with what follows? I’m taking you seriously here.

"Principles" are almost always contextual. (The ones that aren’t are known as "axioms".) There is nothing logically wrong with calling a "principle" some truth that stands on others. For instance: it is a principle of aerodynamics that flush-riveted stressed metal-skin airframes will cause less induced drag than wires/struts rigging. We can call this a "principle" because of its necessary implications. (For instance: there are necessary implications to this principle for aircraft design.) Note that as a matter of formal logic, the designation — "principle" — is set within the context of its use: it can be safely discarded if induced drag is not a show-stopping problem in an aircraft design. (Lots of homebuilts are examples, here.)

The very idea of a metal wing itself, for instance, stands on the truth of all kinds of lower principles. These have to do with things like structure and materials properties, for two examples. Now, while some "principles" can be discarded as in the example above, many of them cannot. For example: one must always attend the basic properties of the materials involved. There are principles there that can only be discarded on pain of death. One crucial aspect of all this is that the lower one goes in the logical hierarchy of principles, the fewer of them there are, and they are less discardable, as well.

Here’s where I’m going with all this:

Depending on the context, some principles are "relative". Some never are. They’re the ones that are so completely "foundational" (although the hip coin these days is "fundamentalist") that — in a context like the one in which your question was asked — to lose sight of them is to lose sight of one’s very self. And not only that, but this, too: "logic" is not a game. It’s the rules of thought. There is such a thing. And here is something very important about it: a defective premise extended with accurate logic will result in a simulation of insanity.

This is the largest implication of my choice of the word "confusing", in my first remark above.

McPhillips and I gave you very good advice, in good faith. I believe you understand that.

McQuain did, too. I especially endorse Machan.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I dunno, Michael. I still don’t think there are universal "rights." I think the only universal human condition is selfish interest. You brought up kids. If any example will bear this out most clearly, kids do. It’s easily observable, and is evident long before they can conceptualize "right and wrong", much less declare their rights as sovereign beings.

There are four kids in my household. Two of them are just turning two, and the others are no more than a couple years older.

Believe me, they think it is their "right" to take each other’s sh*t. That is what has to be trained out of them. They have to be taught to suppress their selfish interest and learn to respect the "rights" of others. And the way that is done is by rewarding behavior that respects the "rights" of others and punishing the behavior that does not. And that only takes into account the rights that I determine are to be respected, according to my personal guiding principles. Right now some Palestinian dad is teaching his kids that Jews don’t have the right to exist. Which of us is correct, and why?

If anyone is the Diane Fossey of this field right now, it’s me. I’m up to my knees in monkeys. And I’m telling you, we are all born expressing the most fundamental declaration of rights - "Mine!"
Humans can be trained to be slaves too, but that doesn’t mean it’s a natural way of being.
That’s correct, but it would be more correct to say, "The natural condition of humans is to be slave-masters. This natural selfish interest, combined with force, allows them to train other humans to be slaves."
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
"Likewise, did the Africans born into and dying in slavery in this country ever really have rights? How can a right exist without the means to secure it?"
There you go, ladies and gentlemen. There is no need for moral outrage over the lives destroyed by black slavery in this country, or to ever carry any moral lesson from it into the future. Those people were just losers, and Jeff has done us the favor of closing that case forever.

Just get over it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Oh man, Billy, now I have to change my ethics and principles. Dammit and I thought that they had rights all along.
 
Written By: Reader
URL: http://
Where did that construct come from? Who said that rights = anything we declare for ourselves?
I was paraphrasing Ron’s first post.
You’re conflating "right" with the ability to "enforce". Of course the wildebeast has the right to defend itself. Whether it will be successful in doing so is another matter altogether.
But doesn’t the lion have the right to eat? How do you resolve the conflict between their rights?
I don’t disagree. Our entire world is made up of philosophical constructs. Unless you’re prepared to deal with literally everything on a solely physical, material level, you have to deal with philosophical constructs.
Besides Erb, who can avoid dealing with the physical and material world on a daily basis? I don’t exist in this comment thread - I exist in Louisiana.

(Insert ignorant Southerner joke here.)
I would argue that they did have such rights. The ability to enforce them is an entirely different matter. What you are really trying to differentiate is "civilization" from "the wild." In the wild rights don’t matter so much as your ability to defend them. In contrast, the foundation of any civilization, whether its a village or a nation, requires that at least some rights are recognized amongst the citizenry. But, again, that doesn’t approach the issue of whether or not rights exist or where they come from. All that deals with is how rights are enforced.
I disagree. In the wild, whatever rights you think you have are much less likely to come into conflict with the rights others think they have. Would they not be more real if you were free from interference to enjoy them?


And a roadie shall lead them...
There you go, ladies and gentlemen. There is no need for moral outrage over the lives destroyed by black slavery in this country, or to ever carry any moral lesson from it into the future. Those people were just losers, and Jeff has done us the favor of closing that case forever.

Just get over it.
Thanks for chiming in with your usual obtuseness before I hit the "Add Comment" button, a$$clown.

Where did I say that "There is no need for moral outrage over the lives destroyed by black slavery in this country, or to ever carry any moral lesson from it into the future. Those people were just losers..." ???

Cite that. I dare you.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
There are four kids in my household. Two of them are just turning two, and the others are no more than a couple years older.
My condolences. I have an almost 5 year old and a soon-to-be 3 year old, but I can’t imagine having four of them running around doing what two of them do.
I dunno, Michael. I still don’t think there are universal "rights." I think the only universal human condition is selfish interest. You brought up kids. If any example will bear this out most clearly, kids do. It’s easily observable, and is evident long before they can conceptualize "right and wrong", much less declare their rights as sovereign beings.
Ah, but isn’t that the centralizing rule of all libertarian thinking? That what’s mine is mine right up until it butts against someone else? The whole "training it out of them" is just introducing civilization to the wild beast. The kids aren’t wrong when it comes to their own bodies, something I’m sure you teach them when it comes to strangers or even other kids encroaching upon their persons. What we teach them is that others have the same rights to have their persons encroached upon. That’s the difference between the wild (where might makes right) and civilization. But that’s not the explanation of where rights come from.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
"Cite that. I dare you."
Easiest thing in the world: I’m the one who wrote it and it’s right up there where you first read it. It’s original to me — not you — and it’s a necessary implication of what you believe. There is no way to hold moral outrage over the crime of slavery (or any other crime at all), hold at the same time the conviction that might makes right (which is exactly the essence of what you’re saying), and hope to have anyone of ordinary intelligence respect your thinking. No way.

Now, you can tell me what you want, but that’s the whole menu on offer. That’s all there is to it.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Ah, but isn’t that the centralizing rule of all libertarian thinking? That what’s mine is mine right up until it butts against someone else?
I wouldn’t know. I’m not a libertarian, I just hang out here. ;)
The whole "training it out of them" is just introducing civilization to the wild beast. The kids aren’t wrong when it comes to their own bodies, something I’m sure you teach them when it comes to strangers or even other kids encroaching upon their persons. What we teach them is that others have the same rights to have their persons encroached upon. That’s the difference between the wild (where might makes right) and civilization. But that’s not the explanation of where rights come from.


No, that doesn’t explain where rights come from at all, if Daddy has to explain to you what rights are. If Daddy’s understanding of "rights" is informed by, for example, Western values and Judeo-Christian principles, what makes that correct vs. an atheist’s understanding of rights?

A tangential line of questioning would be, how can an atheist who believes in evolution believe in the concept of "universal rights" at all?

And just to preempt you, Billy, where did I say that anyone here is an atheist who believes in evolution?

Cite that. I dare you.
My condolences. I have an almost 5 year old and a soon-to-be 3 year old, but I can’t imagine having four of them running around doing what two of them do.
It’s kind of like being punished by a Greek god. A tornado comes through your house and you are condemned to clean it up. As soon as you are done, another tornado comes through and f*cks it up again.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
But doesn’t the lion have the right to eat? How do you resolve the conflict between their rights?
I don’t understand why I have to. How does the lion have the right to eat the wildebeast? And what difference does it make if I recognize a right in either one of them? They aren’t capable of recognizing any of my rights are they? They are not part of my civilization, which is the only place where recognition of rights even matters. In the wild, only enforcement matters.
Besides Erb, who can avoid dealing with the physical and material world on a daily basis?
Who can exist without philosophical constructs?
I don’t exist in this comment thread - I exist in Louisiana.
Your "existence" and "Louisiana" are both philosophical constructs.
(Insert ignorant Southerner joke here.)
I’ll pass;) I live in the South (although, I expect that many would disagree), and one of my favorite people is from Louisiana.
I disagree. In the wild, whatever rights you think you have are much less likely to come into conflict with the rights others think they have. Would they not be more real if you were free from interference to enjoy them?
Again, this is just the difference between civilization and the wild. It doesn’t address the existence of rights or where they come from.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
It’s kind of like being punished by a Greek god. A tornado comes through your house and you are condemned to clean it up. As soon as you are done, another tornado comes through and f*cks it up again.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
That, I understand. And on that note, I’m done for tonight. Adios.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
A common confusion:
"Of course the wildebeast has the right to defend itself."
Nonsense. If you don’t think so, then try to imagine a wildebeest lodging a formal criminal complaint against a lion. The thing that makes this comparison so absurdly false is that there is never any hope of reason between these two entities. Brute force is the only resort because they have no other, in the very nature of what they are.

To attempt this sort of comparison to a matter of human politics is just grotesque.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Easiest thing in the world: I’m the one who wrote it and it’s right up there where you first read it. It’s original to me — not you — and it’s a necessary implication of what you believe.
You don’t know what I believe because I haven’t stated it and you haven’t asked. You’re to busy being... Billy Beck to bother thinking about what others write. Nope, too busy thinking about what YOU are going to say NEXT to pay attention to what is being said NOW.
There is no way to hold moral outrage over the crime of slavery (or any other crime at all), hold at the same time the conviction that might makes right
I don’t hold the conviction that might makes right, I am merely pointing out several instance where history and human nature proved to ignore the very concept of human rights. I think your ponytail is too tight. Just because I write the word "Hitler," it does not mean I admire his accomplishments.
(which is exactly the essence of what you’re saying)
Wrong again, Beck.
and hope to have anyone of ordinary intelligence respect your thinking. No way.
I think your estimate of your intelligence is way too high.
Now, you can tell me what you want, but that’s the whole menu on offer. That’s all there is to it.
Well, geez! I wish I had gotten to this part sooner - I could have saved some typing. Billy Beck has spoken! That’s all there is to it!

You are one giant pouch of vinegar and water, Beck.


Michael, I’m with you - in that I’m going to bed. You are one slippery cuss, but I am determined to pin you down.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
Jeff: plausible deniability has been widely known as the scoundrel’s tack at least as far back as Nixon.

I don’t know who you think you’re fooling, but I’m not one of them.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Billy,

"There is no way to hold moral outrage* over the crime of slavery (or any other crime at all), hold at the same time the conviction that might makes right (which is exactly the essence of what you’re saying), and hope to have anyone of ordinary intelligence respect your thinking. No way."


Well, of course Jeff can hold "moral outrage" as long as he sticks to ethical emotivism, it’s just "moral outrage" that no one "of ordinary intelligence" is bound to "respect" since it has no more correlation to external reality than an emotion-induced stomach-ache. If he were foolish enough to argue that we should ever act on -his- "moral outrage," -then- we’d have a horselaugh on his his whining attempt to inject emotionalism into policy decisions. You can hold this view, but at the cost of cutting yourself off from serious discussion of social values.

These jokers always confuse predication and possession. Just because someone can deprive me of my life, it does not mean that they can retroactively deprive me of the status of ever having been a human being.

 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://
Read that very last sentence of Ernest’s again, kids.

I wish I’d written that.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I wrote the above -before- I saw this:


"Just because I write the word ’Hitler,’ it does not mean I admire his accomplishments."

Aside from speaking ethics in emotive terms (as I suspected you would), to agree with someone on a point of ethics is not the same thing as admiring them. You happen to agree with the Nazis that their ability to kill Anne Frank proved their contention that Miss Frank was not a human being with rights worthy of being respected.
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://
Correction:

"speaking about ethics"
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://
Grimshaw, re: I’m not saying it’s not true but I wonder if it was not true, what that would mean to you

It would mean I live in a different world.

I appreciate that you’re being polite and please don’t misunderstand my having fun while I explain things as disrespect.

Now, to business...Instead of answering your hypotheticals, I’m going to keep things relative to the existence you and I both actually lead.

For starters, look at this quote from Jeff
[H]ow can an atheist who believes in evolution believe in the concept of "universal rights" at all?
Did you notice the jump, the hidden premise?

Here..a hint: who said anything about "universal" rights?

The hidden (and incorrect) premise is that rights (if they exist at all) are somehow not individual, but I’m here to tell you that any legitimate rights are only understood as individual: as having to do with only one’s own life. Therefore, the *only* sense in which rights are universal is that they apply equally to all human beings—but, again, only as individuals.

Now, Jeff (if I understand him) questions whether rights are real, whether they exist in reality or only as some sort of ethereal, solopsist construct based on "selfish interest", which is why he refers to a child’s desires as "they think it is their "right" to take each other’s sh*t."—but it’s not like that at all.

Kids don’t think something is their right—they don’t "think about rights", period. They just want what they want. It is only as their appreciation for the fact that they are unique and individual just like everybody else that concepts anything like "rights" come into view...to be discovered.

Now, rights or ethical principles are every bit as real as diamond mines, except that they are discoveries of philosophy and not of geology or geography. And, just like Billy notes: the rights we speak of are not invented, they are instead necessarily and logically derived as we discover and better understand the requirements of existence as individual human beings. That’s "where rights come from".

Further, properly understood: rights give you no legitimate pre-emptive control over the actions of others because they apply only to you, not them.

You have your rights and they have theirs—they are held only individually and they cannot therefore logically be "shared" or granted. And I’ll add that anything legitimately defensible as a right cannot conflict with any other properly understood right. I’ll also add that there is no magic number where something that isn’t "right" for one becomes a "right" for many just because some number of people say so—morality is not a numbers game.

Therefore it follows, for examples, you may censor yourself; you (or a group of "you"s) may not censor others. You may choose to live a certain way; you may not decide for others how they must live. Although you can protect your rights, you cannot instigate coercion against another. You have the right to be left alone and you have the right to leave others alone. All else must be matters of free agreement.







 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
"Now, rights or ethical principles are every bit as real as diamond mines, except that they are discoveries of philosophy and not of geology or geography. And, just like Billy notes: the rights we speak of are not invented, they are instead necessarily and logically derived as we discover and better understand the requirements of existence as individual human beings. That’s "where rights come from".

Further, properly understood: rights give you no legitimate pre-emptive control over the actions of others because they apply only to you, not them."

They are also not directly or automatically self-enforcing, either, any more than scientific facts are. The Flying Spaghetti Monster (TM) does not send out its Flaming Meatball of Justice (TM) to smite flat-earthers. Likewise, Anne Frank’s rights are not social antibodies that leap out to kill typhus-carrying lice or gun -toting SS guards.
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://
Wow - I see the Billy Beck Admiration Society had a busy night!

Had fun with your e-psychoanalyses?
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
"Had fun with your e-psychoanalyses?"

Since you have engaged in a pathology of reason by making an emotive ad hominem attack rather than engage any substantive points that have been made, yes.

Thanks for proving my point.
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://
A common confusion:

"Of course the wildebeast has the right to defend itself."
Nonsense. If you don’t think so, then try to imagine a wildebeest lodging a formal criminal complaint against a lion. The thing that makes this comparison so absurdly false is that there is never any hope of reason between these two entities. Brute force is the only resort because they have no other, in the very nature of what they are.

To attempt this sort of comparison to a matter of human politics is just grotesque.
The only thing grotesque here is you relegating your concept of anything as gospel. "Predication" indeed.

You confuse "recognition" with the derivation of rights. That a wildebeast and a lion are not capable of recognizing rights in one another, because they each lack the ability to reason and to self-reflect, is irrelevant. The only reason we ever restrict the discussion to human rights is because only humans have these abilities. Without them, rights are not recognizable. But that doesn’t have anything to do with the derivation of rights.

In other words, if every living being exhibits self-defense, the only thing that differentiates man from beast is the ability to reason. But "reason" doesn’t create rights, it is merely the capacity by which they are recognized. Hence, the answer of where rights are derived is not answered here.
Now, rights or ethical principles are every bit as real as diamond mines, except that they are discoveries of philosophy and not of geology or geography. And, just like Billy notes: the rights we speak of are not invented, they are instead necessarily and logically derived as we discover and better understand the requirements of existence as individual human beings. That’s "where rights come from".
So they aren’t invented, but they are "necessarily and logically derived" because we think about them? By that logic, did you think that Descartes meant he invented himself (Je pense donc je suis)? The logically consistency here is lacking.

How does this answer anything about the derivation of rights? I’ll help; it doesn’t. According to this premise, rights are derived simply by us recognizing them ("the rights we speak of are not invented, they are instead necessarily and logically derived as we discover and better understand the requirements of existence as individual human beings.") Either rights are "real as diamond mines" or they are "necessarily and logically derived" from our search for them. Does our search for diamonds create them? Of course not, then how does our discovery, understanding or recognition of rights create them? It doesn’t.

The rest of you prattle on about what rights are, and how they belong to an individual, and (inexplicably) introduce ethics into the conversation, all with deeply condescending attitudes and remarks. Very little, if any, of what you all are discussing has to do with the topic at hand.

I know, I know: "You don’t understand, because you weren’t part or our usenet group for years and years, blah, blah, blah ..." Who gives a flying fu[k? You all have so insulated yourselves from any other views that you can’t hold an intelligent conversation. You think if you talk in enough circles mixed with enough philosophical words (that it’s apparent you don’t always understand) that your authority on the matter will somehow just be accepted. And if not, well then the non-believers are derisively cast aside as mewling children incapable of comprehending your oh-so lofty intellect. Please. You all simply come across as pompous a$$es, which is what I expect you really are.

 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Since you have engaged in a pathology of reason by making an emotive ad hominem attack rather than engage any substantive points that have been made, yes.
Yeah? And you’re ugly.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://repatriate.blogspot.com
"You all have so insulated yourselves from any other views that you can’t hold an intelligent conversation."
Don’t flatter yourself.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Don’t flatter yourself.
Right back at you, Billy.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
"So they aren’t invented, but they are "necessarily and logically derived" because we think about them?"

No, not because we merely "think about them."
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://
Ron,

"they are instead necessarily and logically derived"

I think that MichaelW takes you to be arguing that rights possess logical necessity.
 
Written By: Ernest Brown
URL: http://
The right to one’s own life is the predicate of reason itself.

A natural right is an empirically and analytically secure just claim. While prior to the occurrence of conscious reflective reason human beings have rudimentary and essential logical insight, it is not until they intuitively take hold of themselves as themselves ("I am the person living this life" and "I am the person thinking these thoughts") that they begin to reason in reflexion and logically connect their logical insights into primoridal data.

And, not only are these foundational rights the predicate of reason itself, but because they are analytically secure and the empirical foundation of abstract thought, this means that reason is founded in truth—the predicate truth that "I am the one living this life and thinking these thoughts."

That truth is re-established every morning when one wakes up, before one settles into the accumulated logical errors of one’s life.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
The right to one’s own life is the predicate of reason itself.

Thanks Martin.

So: Does our search for diamonds create them? Of course not, then how does our discovery, understanding or recognition of rights create them? It doesn’t

I didn’t say our discovery, understanding or recognition of rights "creates" rights; in fact, I said the opposite: "the rights we speak of are *not* invented".

Michael: was "A = A" invented or, instead logically derived from the facts of existence? In other words, was A not A before we were able to understand and communicate the idea? Is "A = A" real?
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Martin: You are presenting a claim based on circular logic.

IF the foundational right exists, THEN recognition vel non is irrelevant as to the source of the right.

IF the foundational right exists BECAUSE it can be reflected upon and recognized THEN it is a right because recognition says so.

First you claim:
The right to one’s own life is the predicate of reason itself.
This is a dubious claim, but even accepting it as true it does not speak the derivation of rights. It only speaks to the derivation of reason.

Next:
A natural right is an empirically and analytically secure just claim.
If I understand your premise here, the existence of a right is both based on evidence ("empirically") and logic ("analytically") that withstands all other arguments against existence. Whether or not a right is "just" depends necessarily on its ability to withstand this test.

But again, that does not explain the derivation of rights.
While prior to the occurrence of conscious reflective reason human beings have rudimentary and essential logical insight, it is not until they intuitively take hold of themselves as themselves ("I am the person living this life" and "I am the person thinking these thoughts") that they begin to reason in reflexion and logically connect their logical insights into primoridal data.
OK, so before reason comes basic logic and and the ability to self reflect. Using those tools allows one to ponder their own existence. Connecting that existence to "primordial data" is a bit vague — what do you mean by that term? Do you mean something existing prior to this particular thinker’s existence or is the data something being formed by connecting reason and insights? You seem dangerously close to saying that reasoning about rights is what creates them.
And, not only are these foundational rights the predicate of reason itself, ...
Wait, what "foundational rights"? You simply assert their existence without every explaining their provenance. If you are skipping past your prior paragraph back to your first statement ("The right to one’s own life is the predicate of reason itself.") then we haven’ gotten anywhere. Instead we are now left with two propositions:

(1) reason is derived from rights, and
(2) reasoning allow one to ponder their existence and connect that pondering to "primordial data"

Neither proposition explains where rights come from UNLESS you are suggesting that the reasoning about rights is what creates them.
... but because they [foundational rights] are analytically secure and the empirical foundation of abstract thought, ...
By "abstract thought" I’m assuming you mean "reason" based on your forgoing statements. So this is simply a restatement of the premise. However, you do add that rights are the "empirical foundation" of reason, which seems a bit odd since there has been no empirical basis established OTHER THAN our ability to recognize rights.
... this means that reason is founded in truth—the predicate truth that "I am the one living this life and thinking these thoughts."
Once again, this perhaps explains the derivation of reason, but it doesn’t explain the derivation of rights. "Je pense donc je suis", which is what you are restating in different form, is the logical maxim explaining existence not provenance.
That truth is re-established every morning when one wakes up, before one settles into the accumulated logical errors of one’s life.
What truth? The one giving birth to reason which you have equated with rights? Therefore, rights = truth? Ok fine, then where to rights/truth come from? You still have offered any explanation. At best you are suggesting that self-recognition of one’s rights is what creates them, but that is circular logic — rights allow me to reason, which reason allow me to recognize rights.

None of this explains where rights come from or, as Grimshaw put it at the beginning of this post, "the origin of this (and other) inalienable human right?" You’ve delivered a fine exposition as to tell that rights exist, and provided some inkling as to what you consider their substance, but in terms of derivation.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I didn’t say our discovery, understanding or recognition of rights "creates" rights; in fact, I said the opposite: "the rights we speak of are *not* invented".
Actually, Ron, you said both.
Michael: was "A = A" invented or, instead logically derived from the facts of existence? In other words, was A not A before we were able to understand and communicate the idea? Is "A = A" real?
In fact, it depends on what you mean by "invented". The logical phrase "A=A" (and its converse) was invented as a means of explaining a basic logical premise. That something "is what it is" and "not what it is not" are not inventions, but they don’t have anything to do with where that something came from.

If instead you are soliciting an agreement that rights exist prior to our ability to recognize them, you have it. I agree that rights exist whether or not we recognize them. If this is true, then all the discussion about how we recognize them, or how we prove their existence, is completely irrelevant to the task at hand — i.e. explaining the derivation of rights.

Rights can not be derived from reason because reason does not create anything but artificial constructs for comprehending ourselves and our world, and it helps provide a language for communicating those insights to others. And, if we judge from what Martin suggests, that rights are the foundation of reason, then it is a logical impossibility for reason to create itself.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Martin: You are presenting a claim based on circular logic.
No, actually, I’m not.

The claim: "The life I am living is my own; I am the one thinking these thoughts" is the ground experience, the consciousness of consciouness, of human reason. It is an empirically true and analytically secure logical intuition that observes one’s own person as object (being) as well as subject (consciousness) together as one ("My life; my thought").

(It’s "every gentleman is himself" not "every gentleman is all the people in the room" if you need to see how it is not "circular".)

Hence the justness of the claim (the right) to one’s own life.

Hence the foundation of reason (where logical insight becomes a consciousness of consciousness), the ground of truth (the initiation of conscious thought in conformity with reality), and the original state of justice (where the rightness of one’s claim is perfect).

Your suggestion that it is "circular" logic is simplistic. What I’m describing is inherent to, and the functioning state of, functional human ontology.

The world is intelligible, and unreflected-upon consciousness has logical insight into things: upness and downness, this way and that, duration, others, given in their primordial states, making them real to a self that is not yet identified as itself by itself, but heading inexorably in that direction.

Now, why individual human beings have this inherent experience of themselves is another question. I’m not trying to answer that question here. The Declaration of Independence, for instance, in its briefer statement about "truths self-evident" and "inalienable rights," says that they are an endowment from the Creator. Materialists say evolution. Both could be correct.

I’m discussing it in the immediacy of human experience, as an existential and ontological ground truth.

However, as the moral and ethical world unfolds from these rights through the reason that they give birth to, a commonality of experience with other human beings extends rights by proxy to those who have not yet "come to" and those who have "passed from" the ability to make their claim on their own lives.

Because rights are essentialized in this way, they are also transcendent to experience: they are ideas that represent the conformity of the human mind to reality and they impose themselves, by virtue of their foundational status, as the basis for ethical judging.

Hence the authority of reason to seek right and wrong and to make moral judgments about human possibilities.

Our human world is not founded on nothing, but rather on the founding right that each person has to his own life, the fundamental operating principle of humanity. It is the most obvious thing about human beings, which explains the difficulty human beings have with it. The correct means for dealing with it is that special form of intuition called empathy, which gives us the ability to relate the experience of others to ourselves. Empathy properly guided by proportionality is charity, as in the ability to allow others their humanity. Hence the Golden Rule.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I appreciate all the follow-up. I probably won’t compose a response until tonight or this weekend, so if you’re still interested in maintaining the exchange, look for something then.
 
Written By: Grimshaw
URL: http://
Now, why individual human beings have this inherent experience of themselves is another question. I’m not trying to answer that question here.

Michael, was that the question you were asking: "why individual human beings have this inherent experience of themselves"?

Because if it wasn’t (and thanks, Martin, for putting it in words), I don’t understand what you are getting at.

I could say "rights ’come from’ or ’are derived from’ the facts of human existence" because, when properly understood, they are non-contradictory identifications of philosophic fact(s) discovered through the process of acquiring knowledge about human-ness in relation to the requirements of human existence. But if, using Martin’s example, you are asking something akin to "where does ’up’ come from", I only know that ’up’ exists and I can identify it, just as certainly as I know that rights exist.

But, again, maybe I don’t understand what you’re asking.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Perhaps it is enough to, as the founders did, accept that such rights exist and operate at a level beyond the proper reach of government. They expressed such rights as "God given", which suggests they either really thought them God Given, or perhaps that it was something beyond their full understanding and therefore from God.personally, I take them literally at their words. But their wording, however that falls out, left no doubt in their cultural parlence that such rights were of a nature that no government could rightly touch.

More, they identified a set of values that was unique to our culture. Clearly, "We hold these truths to be self-evdident, that all men are created equal" was a statement of our culture’s unique belief in that statement. As in "We, the new American culture". Equally clear is the fact that not all cultures of the time... indeed.... damned few, then AND now, think the same way. We still have both kings and slaves in the world.

And perhaps the truth of those statements of the founders can be measured by means of measurement of the quality of life both individually and collectively, of both the culture held those values to heart,and those that have not... I’m convinced we would find, in such survey, a trend directly connecting the two.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us

 
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