Isaac3 wrote: ↑
May 3rd, 2019, 2:31 am
Firstly, some people believe that beating a child, for example, when they've misbehaved will actually increase their welfare in the long-term.
Couple of problems there. First we need to define "beating." I take a "beating" to mean a physical attack that leaves bruises, abrasions, lacerations, broken bones, lost teeth, etc. A swat on the rear doesn't count. I doubt that many believe beating a child (in that sense) yields any increase in his welfare, short- or long-term. But even if some do believe that it benefits the child in the long term, that belief is speculative and dubious, while there is no doubt that it harms the child in the short term.
Don't forget your original claim was that we have a 'right' to anything obtained or done without 'harm'. So a police officer does not have the 'right' to take back a stolen watch if he used any injurious force in apprehending the thief?
Force used to retrieve stolen property may harm the thief, but that harm is justifiable. Force employed to right a previous wrong is always justifiable, provided it inflicts no more harm than necessary to right the wrong. The thief's loss of the stolen property does not count as a harm to him, however. He may not count goods not legitimately acquired by him as contributors to his welfare.
You don't even have the 'right' to your coffee because it was farmed in such a way as to damage the welfare of the farmer?
Now, why would a farmer farm in such a way as to damage his own welfare? Are you suggesting he is a slave, working under duress?
But I think your point is that persons who knowingly accept benefits of an immoral act share guilt for that act. I agree that they do, but there are practical limits on what beneficiaries can be expected to know, and what efforts they are obliged to exert to learn the provenance of every item they buy.
Health, welfare and wealth are all subjective terms.
No, they are not. They are somewhat vague, but that is not the same as subjective. There are no "subjective terms." There are only subjective/objective propositions. A proposition is objective if its truth conditions are public, verifiable by any suitably situated person. It is subjective if its truth conditions are private, verifiable only by the speaker.
"Welfare" is the key term there. I define it as a measure of the extent to which an agent's interests and desires are satisfied. Since those are idiosyncratic, "welfare" is always relative to agents (what I would count as an improvement in my welfare may not be so counted by you). But that does not make it "subjective." A proposition asserting that x
welfare can be verified (or disconfirmed) by anyone; the proposition is objective.
Are you healthier after a run even though you are in pain?
I have no idea. That the health effects of some behaviors is unknown does not make the term "subjective." To say a person is healthy is to say that he is free of injuries, diseases, and disabilities, physical or "mental." The meaning of the term is not controversial. What may be controversial is what effects various activities and external factors may have on health.
Is wealth only measurable in material property?
Yes. By definition. Applying the term to anything else is metaphorical.
1 : abundance of valuable material possessions or resources
2 : abundant supply : PROFUSION
3a : all property that has a money value or an exchangeable value
b : all material objects that have economic utility
especially : the stock of useful goods having economic value in existence at any one time
What about communally owned property?
Not sure of the point of that question, but every member of the owning community owns a share of such property. It contributes to his welfare.
What about non-assigned natural resources?
Not sure what you mean by a "non-assigned" resource. Do you mean an unknown/undiscovered one, which therefore benefits no one?
Also, are you seriously suggesting that our common understanding of 'harm' is sufficiently described by injury and wealth. If I killed your life-partner have I done you no harm because I haven't injured you or reduced your wealth? But if we are to admit that I have done you harm, then our notion of harm includes psychological well-being, and as soon as it does, it becomes subjective.
No, it doesn't. (See distinction between relative and subjective, above). That a person suffers emotional/psychological distress is an objective fact, verifiable by anyone who knows that person (and by physicians and other professionals). It can be easily inferred from changes in his behavior and demeanor. While what may induce that stress is relative to agents, and how it may be compensated (via lawsuits for emotional distress or loss of consortium) is notoriously arbitrary, the presence of the condition is quite objective. A person's welfare is clearly reduced by such a loss.
Right, so we don't have the 'right' to any of our land because it was taken by force in war? Or are you suggesting that who owns what land is all just a "matter of fact"? Who owned the Americas at the time of Columbus? And who owns it now, by 'right'? And how did we, purely on the basis of fact, get from the former to the latter position?
That issue has been debated often on this forum. In general, we can claim rights to land to the extent title can be traced without encountering a forcible dispossession (ideally, to the first possessor). As for who owned the Americas, no one owned most of it; it was res nullius
. In some cases, of course, natives were forcibly dispossessed. If their descendents are still around they are entitled to compensation (which has been awarded in some cases).
You're forgetting your own argument. We're not simply arriving at a working definition of 'harm'. If you want to limit the meaning of the word 'harm' to just physical injury and loss, then fine, but you cannot then also argue (as you have) that this limited definition captures exactly what we mean when we say that something was obtained 'righteously', that someone has a 'right' to it.
Why not? What do you think we mean when we say that something was obtained righteously? I take it to mean exactly that: that it was obtained without inflicting harm or loss on anyone else. If you think it means something more, or something else, please explain.
It seems widely agreed on that each sovereign state has a 'right' to their land despite the fact that it was obtain in bloody war.
Well, I'm not sure how widely agreed upon that claim is. Or even whether states have any rights to any land. Claiming sovereignty over a territory is not the same as claiming title to it.
It is widely agreed upon that I do have a 'right' to items you freely give me, despite the fact that you have suffered a material loss in wealth doing so . . .
I may have suffered a loss of wealth, but not a loss of welfare. Giving gifts does not reduce the giver's welfare; it usually enhances it. The giver gains something in return, which he considers more valuable that what he has given up. Losses of wealth represent losses of welfare only when they are imposed upon unwilling agents by external forces or events.
'Right', as we commonly, and legally, use the term, has entirely to do with justification. It is about whether someone is justified in their expectation of a thing, it is now, and always has been, entirely subjective.
That is inconsistent. If whatever considerations underlie that expectation are subjective, it cannot possibly justified. To say that an expectation is justified is just to say that it is based on facts. If it is not, it is unjustified prima facie