Where Do Rights Come From?

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Pantagruel
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pantagruel » May 24th, 2020, 8:35 am

I find that drilling down to the question of an "ultimate utility" or "right" versus "good" or "happy" or "pleasant" is where the dialog among normative theories invariably breaks down. What I particularly like about Mill's position (which I paraphrased in my post) is the way it calls into conjunction several core concepts, obligation, right, duty, and describes their reciprocal inter-relation between self and other.

To me it is a good general-social overview of morality/ethics. We should try to be aware when we have obligations by cultivating our sense of duty. And identify those to whom we owe these duties. Then we have positively instantiated human rights. After all, I cannot "take" my rights (I already have them), they can only be granted to me (i.e. affirmed by the other, and ultimately, the community of others).

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GregRogers » May 24th, 2020, 12:43 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 7:25 am
GregRogers wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 6:58 pm
I don't understand what the relevance "majority opinion" is as to whether gay marriage is acceptable. So, if the majority believes in slavery... is slavery ethical?
In practice, I think we must conclude that it is. There are no objective laws of morality. And there is no morality in the natural world, outside of human society. The morals and laws and rights that we observe are made only by us humans, and they're made (more or less) according to consensus (general agreement). So if the majority assert that slavery is ethical ... then they are.

Of course, to those of us who consider slavery to be (morally) wrong, this will seem ridiculous. But what alternative is there? Our moral views don't come from God, or from Nature or the universe, they come from us. We invent them. Only we are aware of them, and only we abide by them. So the moral consensus of any society defines what is right and wrong. How else could it be?
Wow; hard to know where to start.

"There are no objective laws of morality"; disagree with the assertion. Try reading Adler on this topic.
"There is no morality in the natural world"; disagree with the assertion. Try reading Aristotle and Harris on this topic.
"The morals and laws and rights are made only by us humans"; it depends on what you are referring to. If we both desire to travel by car and run into each other at 100MPH; we will likely both die. That is not something "made up" by humans. However, there may be multiple and equivalent ways to solve this problem; our choice of whether to drive on the right or the left is made up by humans. I would not consider such administrative laws issues of morality.

How else could it be?

To paraphrase Adler. There was a time when there was a diversity of thought with respect to certain elementary natural assertions (e.g. the shape of the earth). Knowledge has progressed and now we have certain truth statements that are generally acknowledged trans-culturally. Although there are still "flat-earthers", most believe the earth is round and countries send up satellites in both the east and west. Note that there are still individuals and groups of flat-earthers; people can be wrong about what is true.

If we consider morality to that which relates to "well-being" (i.e. Aristotle), the assertion is that there are things that improve our well-being as humans trans-culturally (i.e. these are moral truths as much as the shape of the earth could be considered scientific truths). Just as individuals and communities can get scientific truths wrong, so can we get moral truths wrong.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Terrapin Station » May 24th, 2020, 7:24 pm

GregRogers wrote:
May 24th, 2020, 12:43 pm
Pattern-chaser wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 7:25 am


In practice, I think we must conclude that it is. There are no objective laws of morality. And there is no morality in the natural world, outside of human society. The morals and laws and rights that we observe are made only by us humans, and they're made (more or less) according to consensus (general agreement). So if the majority assert that slavery is ethical ... then they are.

Of course, to those of us who consider slavery to be (morally) wrong, this will seem ridiculous. But what alternative is there? Our moral views don't come from God, or from Nature or the universe, they come from us. We invent them. Only we are aware of them, and only we abide by them. So the moral consensus of any society defines what is right and wrong. How else could it be?
Wow; hard to know where to start.

"There are no objective laws of morality"; disagree with the assertion. Try reading Adler on this topic.
"There is no morality in the natural world"; disagree with the assertion. Try reading Aristotle and Harris on this topic.
"The morals and laws and rights are made only by us humans"; it depends on what you are referring to. If we both desire to travel by car and run into each other at 100MPH; we will likely both die. That is not something "made up" by humans. However, there may be multiple and equivalent ways to solve this problem; our choice of whether to drive on the right or the left is made up by humans. I would not consider such administrative laws issues of morality.

How else could it be?

To paraphrase Adler. There was a time when there was a diversity of thought with respect to certain elementary natural assertions (e.g. the shape of the earth). Knowledge has progressed and now we have certain truth statements that are generally acknowledged trans-culturally. Although there are still "flat-earthers", most believe the earth is round and countries send up satellites in both the east and west. Note that there are still individuals and groups of flat-earthers; people can be wrong about what is true.

If we consider morality to that which relates to "well-being" (i.e. Aristotle), the assertion is that there are things that improve our well-being as humans trans-culturally (i.e. these are moral truths as much as the shape of the earth could be considered scientific truths). Just as individuals and communities can get scientific truths wrong, so can we get moral truths wrong.
How would you arrive at state x versus state y being objective "well-being"?

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GregRogers » May 24th, 2020, 7:43 pm

Terrapin,

Can you clarify? Not sure I understand your point and would like to ensure I do before I respond. Many thanks...

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 10:33 pm
Rhetorical versus Practical Rights

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson speaks both rhetorically and practically about rights:
Jefferson wrote:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
When Jefferson speaks of men being “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, he is speaking rhetorically. The purpose of rhetoric is to win people over to your viewpoint, often by appealing to their emotions. But, at the time of the American Revolution, the opposite side could equally argue the “divine right of kings”. The problem with this rhetorical position is that it would require the Creator to come down and settle the matter. He didn’t, and war ensued.
Your "rhetorical" adjective is frivolous and vacuous. Jefferson did not need to "win over" anyone with that statement; he was merely stating what many accepted as a truism. The "Creator," BTW, was a euphemism for natural rights, in the same sense that we use "God-given talents," or "Use the brains God gave you." It is just a colorful way of denoting some natural property, phenomena, or event ("acts of God").
"The same may be said when people speak of “natural rights” or “inherent rights”. There are no objective criteria to determine the “naturalness” or the “inherentness” of a given right. Such claims are rhetorical assertions."
I gave you a perfectly objective criterion for determining whether someone has a right to something in another thread, Marvin. And a right to something is "natural" if the possession to which it attaches is natural, such as your life, your body, etc., and you are the first possessor of it --- which is always the case with whatever attributes you brought with you into the world. There is nothing mystical, "rhetorical," or otherwise problematic about that term. It's meaning is crystal clear, specific and concrete.

People who harbor desires and contrive designs for violating those natural rights, of course, despise that idea. They are compelled to reject any facts or arguments which might supply an objective basis for moral principles and judgments, which would thereby thwart those predatory desires.
In the second part of the Jefferson’s statement, he addresses rights from a practical view: “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.

All practical rights arise by agreement. We agree to respect and protect certain rights for each other. For example, we agree to a right to property. We respect this right by not stealing from each other. We protect this right by passing laws against theft, establishing a system of justice to enforce these laws, and, most important, by calling the police if we see someone breaking into our neighbors house while he’s away.
There are no such things as "practical rights." That is a spurious term. There are only natural and common rights, both of which have an objective basis. The only questions are whether or not they generally honored and enforced by law. They exist whether they are honored or enforced (by the State) or not. If they are not enforced by the State, their owners may morally enforce them personally.
We can measure, in a general sense, the moral value of a right. Consider the recently added right of two people of the same sex to marry. We can ask ourselves, “What are the consequences if we agree to respect and protect this right for everyone? What benefits and harms will follow? Will we all be better off adopting this right and creating a rule to protect it?" Assessing consequences in terms of the benefits and harms for everyone, is called moral judgment.
What was added recently was the legal right of same-sex couples to marry --- a natural right they had all along, but which the State declined to honor or enforce. It is simply an instance of the natural right of all person to enter into any desired relationship with any other willing person, for any purpose whatsoever. That right was not "recently added." it was recognized by the US Supreme Court, just as the abolition of slavery, in the UK and eventually in the US recognized the natural rights of all person, including Africans, to their lives and liberties. Unless you have some objective, timeless, abiding criterion for determining what rights people have, you have no rational or morally defensible basis for enacting any legal rights. You only have whim, or "might makes right."

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 25th, 2020, 3:04 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
Your "rhetorical" adjective is frivolous and vacuous.
Ironically, your use of "frivolous and vacuous" is rhetorical. 🙂
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
The "Creator," BTW, was a euphemism for natural rights, in the same sense that we use "God-given talents," or "Use the brains God gave you." It is just a colorful way of denoting some natural property, phenomena, or event ("acts of God").
Appeals to God and Nature are both rhetorical devices. Neither God nor Nature will act in any way to protect our rights. It is only by our mutual agreement that we ought respect and protect certain rights for each other that they become real. For example, our right to our property is protected by laws against theft and our willingness to call the police if we see someone stealing your property.
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
... a right to something is "natural" if the possession to which it attaches is natural, such as your life, your body, etc., and you are the first possessor of it --- which is always the case with whatever attributes you brought with you into the world. There is nothing mystical, "rhetorical," or otherwise problematic about that term. It's meaning is crystal clear, specific and concrete.
That certainly sounds reasonable at first. But when it is used by someone to refuse to pay his taxes because he "owns" the money and the government is presumed to be a "thief", then we have a problem. And we also have a problem when the owner of a restaurant claims that his ownership gives him the right to post a "Whites Only" sign in his restaurant window.

That formula is deficient, and we cannot agree to it.
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
People who harbor desires and contrive designs for violating those natural rights, of course, despise that idea. They are compelled to reject any facts or arguments which might supply an objective basis for moral principles and judgments, which would thereby thwart those predatory desires.
You mean like when government requires us to pay taxes and requires us to allow people of all races to sit in a restaurant and have breakfast ?
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
...They exist whether they are honored or enforced (by the State) or not. If they are not enforced by the State, their owners may morally enforce them personally.
So, you're justifying the restaurant owner's decision to forcefully defend his "right" to only allow white people to buy breakfast and a cup of coffee?
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
What was added recently was the legal right of same-sex couples to marry --- a natural right they had all along, but which the State declined to honor or enforce. It is simply an instance of the natural right of all person to enter into any desired relationship with any other willing person, for any purpose whatsoever.


And yet the notion of natural rights can just as easily be used to deny same-sex marriage on the basis that the act is "unnatural", that the bodies that "God gave them" were naturally designed to function a certain way. No, we cannot use "natural" rights to leverage moral progress.

The right of same-sex couples to marry was the result of an agreement. The Supreme Court's jurisdiction is to interpret the Constitution, that original agreement that created the nation. After many states had already agreed to embrace same-sex marriage, it became a matter of fairness to remove the different treatment by different states.
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
Unless you have some objective, timeless, abiding criterion for determining what rights people have, you have no rational or morally defensible basis for enacting any legal rights. You only have whim, or "might makes right."
When a consensus of the people agree that a certain right ought to be respected and protected for everyone, and they formally agree to this as a matter of law, then that right exists. That is objective and timeless.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Greta » May 25th, 2020, 4:52 pm

I note that the debate has broken into chunks. When people's thoughts are broken into chunks, the bits are analysed as if stand-alone statements, and are thus taken out of context. This approach usually leads to extended debate over some small technical issue that's not especially relevant. It's also rather unapproachable for readers.

Reading text on a screen is much more difficult than reading text on paper (look it up, if you doubt me). So forums become less approachable to potential readers when replies are chunked in this way. The other issue write as if for an essay for university, with huge slabs of text unbroken by paragraph breaks. It turns people off.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pattern-chaser » May 26th, 2020, 7:44 am

GregRogers wrote:
May 24th, 2020, 12:43 pm
"There are no objective laws of morality"; disagree with the assertion. Try reading Adler on this topic.
Instead of referring us to further reading, how about you tell us what is wrong with my assertion? Why don't you explain how, if morality is objective, it is not universally recognised and accepted? If there is widespread disagreement as to moral judgements, then morality can't be universal (objective) can it?

GregRogers wrote:
May 24th, 2020, 12:43 pm
"There is no morality in the natural world"; disagree with the assertion. Try reading Aristotle and Harris on this topic.
Instead of referring us to further reading, how about you tell us what is wrong with my assertion?

GregRogers wrote:
May 24th, 2020, 12:43 pm
"The morals and laws and rights are made only by us humans"; it depends on what you are referring to. If we both desire to travel by car and run into each other at 100MPH; we will likely both die. That is not something "made up" by humans.
Once again you mistake factual judgements for moral judgements. Is your straw man deliberate?
Pattern-chaser

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 26th, 2020, 9:56 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 7:44 am

Instead of referring us to further reading, how about you tell us what is wrong with my assertion? Why don't you explain how, if morality is objective, it is not universally recognised and accepted? If there is widespread disagreement as to moral judgements, then morality can't be universal (objective) can it?
While I agree that bare links don't contribute much to the discussion, your argument there concerning objectivity is specious. Whether or not a proposition expressing a moral judgment (or anything else) is objective has nothing to do with how widely it is accepted as true. Indeed, many objective propositions are not universally accepted, typically for emotional or other subjective reasons. A proposition is objective if its truth conditions are public --- verifiable by any suitably situated observer.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 26th, 2020, 10:35 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 3:04 pm

Appeals to God and Nature are both rhetorical devices. Neither God nor Nature will act in any way to protect our rights. It is only by our mutual agreement that we ought respect and protect certain rights for each other that they become real. For example, our right to our property is protected by laws against theft and our willingness to call the police if we see someone stealing your property.
Well, you keep confusing having rights with protecting, honoring rights, Marvin. Whether a right exists and whether it is widely respected are two different questions. And, of course, references to "God-given rights" is not an "appeal" to God. They are merely popular euphemisms for natural rights.
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
... a right to something is "natural" if the possession to which it attaches is natural, such as your life, your body, etc., and you are the first possessor of it --- which is always the case with whatever attributes you brought with you into the world. There is nothing mystical, "rhetorical," or otherwise problematic about that term. It's meaning is crystal clear, specific and concrete.
That certainly sounds reasonable at first. But when it is used by someone to refuse to pay his taxes because he "owns" the money and the government is presumed to be a "thief", then we have a problem. And we also have a problem when the owner of a restaurant claims that his ownership gives him the right to post a "Whites Only" sign in his restaurant window.
Are you suggesting that someone who earns some money does not own it? That the government is the real owner? Per what criterion of ownership?

What is the "real problem" with someone who puts up the "Whites Only" sign? The only problem I can see with it is that he is foolishly alienating potential customers, not only the non-whites he wishes to exclude, but many whites who will avoid his place because of his racist views.
You mean like when government requires us to pay taxes and requires us to allow people of all races to sit in a restaurant and have breakfast ?
When it requires us to pay taxes to pay for programs from which we receive no benefit, then yes.
So, you're justifying the restaurant owner's decision to forcefully defend his "right" to only allow white people to buy breakfast and a cup of coffee?
Yes. Though I would not advise it, as a practical course of action. Sometimes submitting to threats is the only prudent response to them, until some opportunity to effectively counter them appears.
And yet the notion of natural rights can just as easily be used to deny same-sex marriage on the basis that the act is "unnatural", that the bodies that "God gave them" were naturally designed to function a certain way. No, we cannot use "natural" rights to leverage moral progress.
Er, no. whether or not homosexuality is "natural" (which it is) has nothing to do with natural rights. Your natural rights are simply your rights to those things you naturally possess. No behavior on your part has anything to do with them, or provides anyone with any pretext for violating them, except when you exercise them in a way to violate someone else's.
The right of same-sex couples to marry was the result of an agreement. The Supreme Court's jurisdiction is to interpret the Constitution, that original agreement that created the nation. After many states had already agreed to embrace same-sex marriage, it became a matter of fairness to remove the different treatment by different states.
The natural right of same sex couples to marry came with them into the world; it was not a result of any "agreement" or Supreme Court decision. The legal right was not a result of any agreement either, but of application of the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court does not make decisions based on what the states are doing.
GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm
Unless you have some objective, timeless, abiding criterion for determining what rights people have, you have no rational or morally defensible basis for enacting any legal rights. You only have whim, or "might makes right."
When a consensus of the people agree that a certain right ought to be respected and protected for everyone, and they formally agree to this as a matter of law, then that right exists. That is objective and timeless.
Egads. You're claiming that popular opinions, perhaps the paradigm of things subjective, volatile, ephemeral, transitory --- are "objective" and "timeless"? Are you trying to re-define those terms?

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Terrapin Station » May 26th, 2020, 10:42 am

GregRogers wrote:
May 24th, 2020, 7:43 pm
Terrapin,

Can you clarify? Not sure I understand your point and would like to ensure I do before I respond. Many thanks...
So re this comment from you:

"If we consider morality to that which relates to 'well-being' (i.e. Aristotle), the assertion is that there are things that improve our well-being as humans trans-culturally (i.e. these are moral truths as much as the shape of the earth could be considered scientific truths). Just as individuals and communities can get scientific truths wrong, so can we get moral truths wrong."

That only works if we're claiming that one given state that we can be in, contrary to a different state that we can be in, is "well being" objectively. I'm asking you to explain how it could be well-being objectively, rather than just being well-being subjectively (so that it's just well-being to the people who have a preference for the state in question).

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Ecurb » May 26th, 2020, 10:54 am

GE Morton wrote:
May 25th, 2020, 12:03 pm

What was added recently was the legal right of same-sex couples to marry --- a natural right they had all along, but which the State declined to honor or enforce. It is simply an instance of the natural right of all person to enter into any desired relationship with any other willing person, for any purpose whatsoever. That right was not "recently added." it was recognized by the US Supreme Court, just as the abolition of slavery, in the UK and eventually in the US recognized the natural rights of all person, including Africans, to their lives and liberties. Unless you have some objective, timeless, abiding criterion for determining what rights people have, you have no rational or morally defensible basis for enacting any legal rights. You only have whim, or "might makes right."
Your notion that property rights derive from "discovery or creation" is not "objective". What constitutes "discovery or creation"? Does the astronomer who "discovered" Pluto (I forget his name) now own the entire planet? If so, are scientific exploratory probes required to pay rent to his heirs?

The "right" to marry is only a "right" when it obliges other people to behave in particular ways. Of course people can enter into contractual agreements with each other (lovers whisper promises across their pillows)- but that doesn't obligate those who have not agreed to the contract. The whispered promises may be morally binding, but are not legally binding. An employer (as one example) may have agreed to pay spousal health insurance back in the day when gay marriage was not legally recognized. Does the legal recognition of gay (same sex) marriage now oblige him to pay health insurance to people for whom he never agreed to pay it? (Isn't spousal health insurance unfair in general? Why should a married worker get $6000 a year more than an unmarried one? But that's beside my point.)

Where your argument falls apart is when you try to extend the "natural right" to freedom over one's own body to (for example) property rights. Property rights clearly LIMIT freedom over one's own body -- freedom of movement, for example, is limited by trespassing laws. There are plenty of ways in which we can JUSTIFY such limits on personal freedom, but comparing ownership of land to "ownership" of one's own body isn't one of them. We don't "own" our own bodies, although we have a natural right to control them (subject to certain limitations). Amundsen didn't
"own" the South Pole.

Of course it is true that we can (legally and morally) control the behavior of other people vis a vis our bodies, just as we can control the behavior of other people vis a vis our property. That one similarity, however, does not confer identity. One can be a "natural right", and the other a social contract.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 26th, 2020, 11:21 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:42 am

That only works if we're claiming that one given state that we can be in, contrary to a different state that we can be in, is "well being" objectively. I'm asking you to explain how it could be well-being objectively, rather than just being well-being subjectively (so that it's just well-being to the people who have a preference for the state in question).
We've covered this before, in previous threads. That Alfie counts X as contributing to his well-being is subjective on his part. That he does so count it is objective --- we can see what he so counts by observing his behavior.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 26th, 2020, 11:24 am

GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:35 am
Whether a right exists and whether it is widely respected are two different questions.
You are right of course. But a right that is widely respected is more useful than a right that is not. There are moral arguments for rights that are not merely rhetorical claims, but which can be backed up with objective evidence. And it is that evidence that gains wide respect for a right.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:35 am
Are you suggesting that someone who earns some money does not own it? That the government is the real owner? Per what criterion of ownership?
Well, when Jesus was asked that question he asked whose face is on the money. But a person is allowed to keep all that he earns, unless he fails to pay his bills. In that case the person with a valid legal claim can have the person's wages attached to collect what he is owed. Taxes are just like any other debt that is lawfully owed.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:35 am
What is the "real problem" with someone who puts up the "Whites Only" sign? The only problem I can see with it is that he is foolishly alienating potential customers, not only the non-whites he wishes to exclude, but many whites who will avoid his place because of his racist views.
The real problem is that blacks were routinely denied equal access to restaurants, hotels, bathrooms, housing, and other economic goods in the old south. Racism was so widespread that Virginia and other states shut down public schools rather than allow a black child to sit with their white children in class. That was a real problem.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:35 am
Your natural rights are simply your rights to those things you naturally possess. No behavior on your part has anything to do with them, or provides anyone with any pretext for violating them, except when you exercise them in a way to violate someone else's.


But clearly that doesn't produce good results. If it allows racial discrimination to flourish at the expense of others, then it is immoral. There is a morally defensible right of the black person to be treated with the same respect and to have the same rights as any other person.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:35 am
You're claiming that popular opinions, perhaps the paradigm of things subjective, volatile, ephemeral, transitory --- are "objective" and "timeless"? Are you trying to re-define those terms?
No. I guess not. After all, racial discrimination against black persons was itself the agreement between the citizens of the old south, and even slavery was agreed to by the northern states until the anti-slavery movement made the moral argument and supplied the objective evidence that convinced them that slavery was wrong.

However, what is objective is that the practical rights, the ones that people enjoyed (the slave owners), or were legally denied (the slaves), were matters of consensus. And what is timeless is that it has always been so. It has always been the case that practical rights, even those we consider to be immoral today, are a matter of common agreement.

Moral progress continues to be made in the matter of rights. For example, more people today believe that universal health insurance should be a right that everyone enjoys.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 26th, 2020, 12:00 pm

Ecurb wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:54 am

Your notion that property rights derive from "discovery or creation" is not "objective". What constitutes "discovery or creation"? Does the astronomer who "discovered" Pluto (I forget his name) now own the entire planet? If so, are scientific exploratory probes required to pay rent to his heirs?
No. Not all discoveries confer rights. Only discoveries of things of which you can take possession and which confer benefits on you, and you can defend.
The "right" to marry is only a "right" when it obliges other people to behave in particular ways.
Yes. Having a right to marry imposes a moral constraint on others not to interfere in that relationship. It doesn't oblige anyone to applaud it or associate with the persons involved.
Of course people can enter into contractual agreements with each other (lovers whisper promises across their pillows)- but that doesn't obligate those who have not agreed to the contract. The whispered promises may be morally binding, but are not legally binding.
Actually, they may be. Verbal contracts are legally enforceable. The problem with them is proving that they exist.
An employer (as one example) may have agreed to pay spousal health insurance back in the day when gay marriage was not legally recognized. Does the legal recognition of gay (same sex) marriage now oblige him to pay health insurance to people for whom he never agreed to pay it?
Yes, it does. But the right to marry doesn't impose that obligation, an arbitrary and indefensible law does.

The State has no legitimate interest or role to play in marriage at all; marriages are purely private contracts between consenting adults. The State has no business licensing marriages, in conferring any differential benefits depending upon marital status, or in compelling third parties to acknowledge them or associate with the married persons.
(Isn't spousal health insurance unfair in general? Why should a married worker get $6000 a year more than an unmarried one? But that's beside my point.)
It is not unfair, unless that benefit is dictated by the State. Any employment contract to which employer and employee have freely agreed is "fair."
Where your argument falls apart is when you try to extend the "natural right" to freedom over one's own body to (for example) property rights. Property rights clearly LIMIT freedom over one's own body -- freedom of movement, for example, is limited by trespassing laws. There are plenty of ways in which we can JUSTIFY such limits on personal freedom, but comparing ownership of land to "ownership" of one's own body isn't one of them.
The exercise of every right is limited by the like rights of others. Your right to swing your fist ends where the other fellow's nose begins, just as your right to wander the Earth ends where someone's private property begins. That land and your nose are both your property, gained though first possession.
We don't "own" our own bodies, although we have a natural right to control them (subject to certain limitations).
A "right to control" IS ownership, or derived from someone's ownership.
Of course it is true that we can (legally and morally) control the behavior of other people vis a vis our bodies, just as we can control the behavior of other people vis a vis our property. That one similarity, however, does not confer identity. One can be a "natural right", and the other a social contract.
True, they are not identical. The right to control our bodies is a natural right; the right to control our external property is a common right. Natural rights are your rights to things you brought with you into the world; common rights are your rights to things you acquired after arriving. Both derive from your first possession of those things.

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