Where Do Rights Come From?

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Sculptor1
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Sculptor1 » May 26th, 2020, 12:16 pm

GE Morton wrote:
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.
You mean to say that the Aborigines of Australia had no rights to their land since they were unable to defend it?

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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Terrapin Station
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Terrapin Station » May 26th, 2020, 12:51 pm

GE Morton wrote:
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.
I'll wait for Greg.

Ecurb
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Ecurb » May 26th, 2020, 2:29 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 12:00 pm

Actually, they may be. Verbal contracts are legally enforceable. The problem with them is proving that they exist.

Oh, bosh! "I will always love you," whispered across a pillow, is not legally enforceable, nor should it be. Reasonable people know that lovers love making promises to each other, and that those promises are not enforceable.
Once again, bullocks. Marriage is a legal contract that is enforced by the state with regard to (for example) shared financial assets. The marriage vows sometimes mention "endowing with worldly goods", but not always. Also, if an employer agrees to a contract, and then the definition of "marriage" is changed after the fact, isn't that unfair? (Of course the State is also the employer in many situations.) The state is involved in ALL private contracts, because contracts are enforced by the State. If the State has no legitimate role to play in private contracts, how will said contracts be enforced?
The ONLY right to control that ownership confers is the right to control other people vis a vis the property. Using words (like "ownership" or "property") in an idiosyncratic way is just silly. The whole point of language is standardized meaning. Nobody but you says we "own" our own bodies, because the concept of ownership and of rights over one's own person are so distinct. You (as far as I can tell) want to think of control over our own minds and bodies as a form of ownership in order to buoy support for property rights. That's silly. Property rights must stand or fall on their own moral merits. They clearly derive from the State, as is obvious when we look at communist states in which property is viewed differently from how it is seen in capitalist (and other) states.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Ecurb » May 26th, 2020, 2:37 pm

Whoops. I didn't use the quote function properly. Here's my post without the silly quote and respond:

"I will always love you," whispered across a pillow, is not legally enforceable, nor should it be. Reasonable people know that lovers love making promises to each other, and that those promises are not enforceable.

Marriage is a legal contract that is enforced by the state with regard to (for example) shared financial assets. The marriage vows sometimes mention "endowing with worldly goods", but not always. Also, if an employer agrees to a contract, and then the definition of "marriage" is changed after the fact, isn't that unfair? (Of course the State is also the employer in many situations.) The state is involved in ALL private contracts, because contracts are enforced by the State. If the State has no legitimate role to play in private contracts, how will said contracts be enforced?

The ONLY right to control that ownership confers is the right to control other people vis a vis the property. Using words (like "ownership" or "property") in an idiosyncratic way is just silly. The whole point of language is standardized meaning. Nobody but you says we "own" our own bodies, because the concept of ownership and of rights over one's own person are so distinct. You (as far as I can tell) want to think of control over our own minds and bodies as a form of ownership in order to buoy support for property rights. That's silly. Property rights must stand or fall on their own moral merits. They clearly derive from the State, as is obvious when we look at communist states in which property is viewed differently from how it is seen in capitalist (and other) states.

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Newme
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Newme » May 26th, 2020, 8:01 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 7:59 pm
...Empathy is indeed the key. Hey, I had problems reading the small type in the boxes in that image. Is "Anatomy of Peace" the book by Oliver Wyman? I just ordered it for my kindle. I'm in the middle of another book at the moment, but it sounds like a good read.

If the image is in the book then I'll see it there. Thanks for the recommendation.
My pleasure.
Anatomy of Peace is by the Arbinger Institute. Sorry about the poor quality image. Here’s a link for a better image and info.

https://sites.google.com/site/integralc ... y-of-peace
“Empty is the argument of the philosopher which does not relieve any human suffering.” - Epicurus

GE Morton
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
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.
Of course. But how useful it is has nothing to do with whether it exists either.
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.
Yes indeed. I've been giving you the objective evidence for the existence of a right: P has a right to X IFF P is the first possessor of X, or P acquired X via a chain of consent from the first possessor. Whether that condition is satisfied for any claimed right is an objective matter.
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.
No, Marvin, taxes are not "like any other debt." For every other debt there must be some evidence that the alleged debtor freely incurred the debt, via some some instrument such as a mortgage, sale or loan agreement, credit card chit, etc., and has received value from the creditor. If the creditor plaintiff can produce no such evidence, his claim is dismissed.

With taxes there is often --- usually --- no evidence the taxpayer ever consented to the charges imposed, or received anything of value for some portion of those charges.

You can't ignore that difference, Marvin.
The real problem is that blacks were routinely denied equal access to restaurants, hotels, bathrooms, housing, and other economic goods in the old south.
Actually, that was not true. Most "places of public accommodation" --- hotels, restaurants, theaters, and the like --- accommodated blacks, although via separate entrances, seating sections, etc. Very few retailers, such as grocery, drug, hardware stores, etc., refused to serve blacks. Most of them realized "money is money."
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.
Yes, it was. The 14th Amendment requires governments, including public school districts, to extend equal protection of the law to all citizens. But it doesn't require private parties to do so.
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.
Well, that begs multiple questions and is incorrect in other respects. What counts as a "good result" is purely subjective. Nor does racial (or any other type of private) discrimination impose any "expense" on anyone. No one denied admittance to a particular restaurant, say, suffers any loss or injury --- his net welfare after he is turned away is the same as when he approached the door. Also, who should be treated with respect is a decision for each moral agent to make; it depends upon criteria that are highly subjective and idiosyncratic. It can't be dictated by the State without violating someone's natural right to free association. And of course blacks have the same rights as everyone else --- but no one, black or white, has any "right" to enter upon private premises where they are not invited, or to associate with someone who does not wish to associate with them, whatever their reasons might be.

I agree, of course, that racial discrimination is irrational, ugly, offensive, and usually stupid. But people have rights to do things others might find irrational, ugly, offensive, or stupid. The solution for that problem is for people who so find it to do some discriminating of their own, and not patronize establishments that practice it --- not to summarily dismiss the bigot's natural rights, oblivious to the precedent that sets.
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.
You seem to be referring there to legal rights. I agree those can arise by popular consensus, and when they do they have no moral significance (unless they conflict with natural or common rights, in which case they're immoral).
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.
There is no "should be" with respect to real rights. No one has a real --- natural or common --- right that others serve them, whether a doctor or a cotton-picker. Or that someone else pay for services rendered to them. Governments may well create legal rights allowing that, but since they violate real rights those "rights" will be immoral prima facie.

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Marvin_Edwards
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 26th, 2020, 10:00 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
I've been giving you the objective evidence for the existence of a right: P has a right to X IFF P is the first possessor of X, or P acquired X via a chain of consent from the first possessor. Whether that condition is satisfied for any claimed right is an objective matter.
First, that only expresses a possible rule for how matters of property might be resolved.

Second, it does not make a moral argument for the rule. It does not explain why that rule is better than any other rule. For example, why is that a better rule than one that says (a) "everything is owned in common", or (b) a rule that says "a person owns whatever he can successfully steal".

You are right that the rule is one that can be objectively applied. But so are rules (a) and (b).
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
No, Marvin, taxes are not "like any other debt." For every other debt there must be some evidence that the alleged debtor freely incurred the debt, via some some instrument such as a mortgage, sale or loan agreement, credit card chit, etc., and has received value from the creditor. If the creditor plaintiff can produce no such evidence, his claim is dismissed.

With taxes there is often --- usually --- no evidence the taxpayer ever consented to the charges imposed, or received anything of value for some portion of those charges.
As we've already gone through several times now, the constitution is a formal contract between us. Your claim to citizenship only exists because the U.S.A. exists. The U.S.A. only exists because of the agreement between us to create a nation for our mutual benefit.

You benefit, as we all do, from membership in this nation. Taxes are your membership dues. They are a valid debt, just like any other.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
Most "places of public accommodation" --- hotels, restaurants, theaters, and the like --- accommodated blacks, although via separate entrances, seating sections, etc. Very few retailers, such as grocery, drug, hardware stores, etc., refused to serve blacks. Most of them realized "money is money."

... The 14th Amendment requires governments, including public school districts, to extend equal protection of the law to all citizens. But it doesn't require private parties to do so.

...Nor does racial (or any other type of private) discrimination impose any "expense" on anyone. No one denied admittance to a particular restaurant, say, suffers any loss or injury --- his net welfare after he is turned away is the same as when he approached the door. ...
And all of that constitutes a moral argument against your ethical formula. The formula you provide allows blacks and other minorities to be treated as a lower caste of citizens. And that is not right.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
Also, who should be treated with respect is a decision for each moral agent to make; it depends upon criteria that are highly subjective and idiosyncratic. It can't be dictated by the State without violating someone's natural right to free association.
Who we choose to respect is a private matter. But the nation has a commitment to every citizen that they not be forbidden to eat in a restaurant because of their race.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
And of course blacks have the same rights as everyone else --- but no one, black or white, has any "right" to enter upon private premises where they are not invited, or to associate with someone who does not wish to associate with them, whatever their reasons might be.
The sign "Restaurant" above the door invites everyone inside, to sit down and have a cup of coffee. It is not a private dwelling. Private ownership of a restaurant does not confer any right to offer services only to people of your own race or your own religion.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
I agree, of course, that racial discrimination is irrational, ugly, offensive, and usually stupid. But people have rights to do things others might find irrational, ugly, offensive, or stupid. The solution for that problem is for people who so find it to do some discriminating of their own, and not patronize establishments that practice it --- not to summarily dismiss the bigot's natural rights, oblivious to the precedent that sets.
There is no natural right to place a "Whites Only" sign in a restaurant window. A restaurant is by definition a public accommodation. The fact that it is privately owned does not change that.
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
You seem to be referring there to legal rights. I agree those can arise by popular consensus, and when they do they have no moral significance (unless they conflict with natural or common rights, in which case they're immoral).
There are no "natural" rights. What is right and what is wrong are matters of moral judgment. Moral judgments are made on the basis of the best good and least harm for everyone. All real rights must stake their claim based upon objective evidence that they meet that criteria better than other alternative rights.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 26th, 2020, 10:04 pm

Newme wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:01 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 7:59 pm
...Empathy is indeed the key. Hey, I had problems reading the small type in the boxes in that image. Is "Anatomy of Peace" the book by Oliver Wyman? I just ordered it for my kindle. I'm in the middle of another book at the moment, but it sounds like a good read.

If the image is in the book then I'll see it there. Thanks for the recommendation.
My pleasure.
Anatomy of Peace is by the Arbinger Institute. Sorry about the poor quality image. Here’s a link for a better image and info.

https://sites.google.com/site/integralc ... y-of-peace
Much Better! Thanks!

GE Morton
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 27th, 2020, 10:50 am

Ecurb wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 2:37 pm

"I will always love you," whispered across a pillow, is not legally enforceable, nor should it be. Reasonable people know that lovers love making promises to each other, and that those promises are not enforceable.
You've heard of "palimony" suits? Your example is not enforceable for two reasons: it is not substantive (it involves nothing tangible or having any economic value), and there is no objective evidence the promise was ever made.
Marriage is a legal contract that is enforced by the state with regard to (for example) shared financial assets.
All contracts are enforceable by the State, unless the parties are minors or the contract is "contrary to public policy." That is the chief purpose of civil courts.
Also, if an employer agrees to a contract, and then the definition of "marriage" is changed after the fact, isn't that unfair? (Of course the State is also the employer in many situations.) The state is involved in ALL private contracts, because contracts are enforced by the State. If the State has no legitimate role to play in private contracts, how will said contracts be enforced?
It is definitely the job of the State --- namely, civil courts --- to enforce contracts. That is one of the classical (Lockean) rationales for creating a government, to establish a "neutral arbiter" to settle private disputes that would otherwise be settled by violence. It is not the role of the State, however, to dictate the content of private contracts, including what shall count as a "marriage." A marriage is whatever the contract before a court says it is.

Yes, if an employer is forced, by the State, to extend insurance coverage, or provide any other benefit, to persons not included in his definition of "marriage," then that is unfair --- and a violation of his rights. When interpreting contracts judicial doctrine holds that the court should try to ascertain what the parties intended by a particular provision of the contract. The attorneys supply evidence they claim reveal that intent. It is not the court's job to impose its own definitions on terms in the contract.
The ONLY right to control that ownership confers is the right to control other people vis a vis the property.
Er, no. Per common law "ownership" entails 3 broad powers (and rights) over the owned property: the right to any and all benefits the property might yield, the right and power to control use of and access to the property, and the right and power to dispose of the property (by gift, sale, bequest, abandonment, or destruction).
Using words (like "ownership" or "property") in an idiosyncratic way is just silly.
??? To what way are you referring?
The whole point of language is standardized meaning. Nobody but you says we "own" our own bodies . . .
Well, yes, they do. The concept of "self-ownership" has been ubiquitous in liberal political philosophy since Hobbes and Locke, if not earlier.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-ownership

There is also a thriving commercial market for various body parts, and you can't sell what you don't own:

https://www.rd.com/advice/body-parts-you-can-sell/
You (as far as I can tell) want to think of control over our own minds and bodies as a form of ownership in order to buoy support for property rights. That's silly. Property rights must stand or fall on their own moral merits.
Control over our minds and bodies is not a "form" of ownership. It derives from that ownership; it embraces all three of the powers of ownership listed above. Anything over which you may rightly exercise those powers is your property, by definition.
They clearly derive from the State, as is obvious when we look at communist states in which property is viewed differently from how it is seen in capitalist (and other) states.
How property "is seen" by someone is irrelevant to what property is. Re-defining common words, such as "rights," "property," "justice," etc., is a favorite tactic of demagogues and despots intent on violating them. The legitimate role of the State is protect rights, not to define them.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Ecurb » May 27th, 2020, 2:51 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 27th, 2020, 10:50 am


Er, no. Per common law "ownership" entails 3 broad powers (and rights) over the owned property: the right to any and all benefits the property might yield, the right and power to control use of and access to the property, and the right and power to dispose of the property (by gift, sale, bequest, abandonment, or destruction). .....


Control over our minds and bodies is not a "form" of ownership. It derives from that ownership; it embraces all three of the powers of ownership listed above. Anything over which you may rightly exercise those powers is your property, by definition.



How property "is seen" by someone is irrelevant to what property is. Re-defining common words, such as "rights," "property," "justice," etc., is a favorite tactic of demagogues and despots intent on violating them. The legitimate role of the State is protect rights, not to define them.
Hmmm. Do children own their own bodies, by embracing the powers of ownership? Can't parents force them to go to school, do their chores, and eat broccoli? At what age to we magically own our own bodies?

I haven't read your links yet (I'm so busy posting on the internets), but I don't think any country with which I am familiar allows people to sell their own kidney.

Besides, no nation allows ownership which "entails 3 broad powers (and rights) over the owned property: the right to any and all benefits the property might yield, the right and power to control use of and access to the property, and the right and power to dispose of the property (by gift, sale, bequest, abandonment, or destruction). ....."

The "benefits the property might yield" are subject to both tax and regulation; the power to dispose of the property is subject to tax and regulation; and the right and power to use the property is subject to regulation. If you drive your car at 100 mph, you will be arrested. Indeed, if you drive someone else's car that fast you will also be arrested, unless you are on the autobahn. Ownership (in fact) makes no difference in your right to legally drive any car at that speed, and controlling access is (of course) controlling the freedom of other people.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 10:00 pm
GE Morton wrote:
May 26th, 2020, 8:26 pm
I've been giving you the objective evidence for the existence of a right: P has a right to X IFF P is the first possessor of X, or P acquired X via a chain of consent from the first possessor. Whether that condition is satisfied for any claimed right is an objective matter.
First, that only expresses a possible rule for how matters of property might be resolved.
No, Marvin. That is not merely a "possible" rule; it is the rule that has been followed almost universally, everywhere, since time immemorial. It is the rule embodied in such adages as "first come, first served" and "finders keepers." It is the rule underlying title searches and title insurance, obligatory in real estate purchases; it is the rule followed in all common law courts when adjudicating property disputes. It is the rule followed instinctively by everyone who prefers not to settle a property dispute with violence.
Second, it does not make a moral argument for the rule. It does not explain why that rule is better than any other rule.
Have you fogotten the moral basis for that rule outlined earlier? That rule is moral because if Alfie is the first possessor of X, then he will necessarily have obtained it without having inflicted loss or injury on anyone else. First possession is per force innocent possession. And that is a morally significant fact.
For example, why is that a better rule than one that says (a) "everything is owned in common" . . .
Because there is no basis for such a claim. A claim of ownership, if it is to be cognitive, must have some factual basis. If it doesn't then it has no determinable truth value; it is cognitively meaningless.

And, of course, if everything is declared to be owned in common you have no means of settling disputes over who may occupy this tipi, eat this apple, use this spear.
. . .or (b) a rule that says "a person owns whatever he can successfully steal".
Because stealing entails inflicting a loss or injury on someone, which, I assume you agree, is immoral prima facie..
As we've already gone through several times now, the constitution is a formal contract between us.
Well, if you're going to persist with that gratuitous and obviously false assertion, despite the indisputable evidence of its falsity, there is probably no point in continuing this discussion. Contracts exist only among people who have positively assented to them. No person is party to any contract to which he has not positively assented. If you deny that then you simply don't understand what a contract is.
You benefit, as we all do, from membership in this nation. Taxes are your membership dues. They are a valid debt, just like any other.
Membership by definition, as distinguished from membership by enlistment, as explained earlier, does not involve any dues. You do not owe anyone any "dues" because someone has defined you into a set. I agree, of course, that I do benefit from living in this nation. But most of those benefits --- 99% of them --- derive from the relationships, personal, professional, commercial, etc., I've formed with other private individuals, not from any services provided by government, for which taxes pay. And I'm quite willing to pay for those government services from which I do benefit.

But that comment is telling. It reveals that you conceive "membership" in a society to be like membership in a club, which members voluntarily join because they share the club's goals and agree to contribute to the attainment of those goals and abide by the club's by-laws. That conception of the structure of modern civilized societies is false. "Members" of such societies have not voluntarily joined, they do not share any common goals, and they've entered into no agreements with all other members. Assumptions to the contrary can only be maintained as quasi-religious "articles of faith," stubbornly held in the face of obvious empirical evidence refuting them.
And all of that constitutes a moral argument against your ethical formula. The formula you provide allows blacks and other minorities to be treated as a lower caste of citizens. And that is not right.
I agree it is "not right." But one moral agent may not impose his personal moral views on other moral agents.

There are "public moralities" and "private moralities" (distinguished at length in other threads). Public moralities --- moralities binding upon all agents in moral field (a social setting) --- are concerned only with interactions between agents that inflict loss or injury on one or more agents. They do not embrace interactions that some people --- third parties --- may find unpleasant or distasteful or offensive, per some private morality they may hold. No agent has any duty to conform to the tenets of someone else's private morality.
Who we choose to respect is a private matter. But the nation has a commitment to every citizen that they not be forbidden to eat in a restaurant because of their race.
That is self-contradictory. The "nation" is nothing but private individuals. Every restaurant is the property of some private individual. If "who we choose to respect is a private matter," then who restaurant owners choose to serve is a private matter.

Nations, and other groups of people, are not moral agents; only their members are. To say that "the nation" has committed to some policy is just to say that some private individuals have committed to imposing their private moral judgments on other private individuals.
The sign "Restaurant" above the door invites everyone inside, to sit down and have a cup of coffee.
It does, unless some more specific invitation or exclusion is posted on the door.
It is not a private dwelling. Private ownership of a restaurant does not confer any right to offer services only to people of your own race or your own religion.
Where did you get the idea that the rights attaching to private property extend only to dwellings? Property rights attach to ALL of your property, your house, your car, your shoes, your wristwatch, your savings account, your lawnmower, the novel you wrote, your tools and place of business. The distinction you're trying to draw is arbitrary and specious.
There is no natural right to place a "Whites Only" sign in a restaurant window.
Well, then you'll need to outline your definition of a "natural right." The one I gave --- the one classically understood --- certainly does include that action. It is implicit in the natural right of free association --- the right to freely enter into any desired relationship with any other willing person, on any mutually agreeable terms, without interference from any third party. The exclusion you're proposing there is ad hoc and arbitrary.
A restaurant is by definition a public accommodation. The fact that it is privately owned does not change that.
The former is a legal definition. You have it backwards --- the fact that a law declares otherwise does not change the fact that the restaurant is private property, to which the owner has a natural right to operate as he pleases, as long as he inflicts no loss or injury on any other person. Morally speaking natural rights trump laws.
There are no "natural" rights.
Ah. So you're just summarily dismissing the definition given earlier? Rights so defined obviously exist.
What is right and what is wrong are matters of moral judgment. Moral judgments are made on the basis of the best good and least harm for everyone.
I agree.
All real rights must stake their claim based upon objective evidence that they meet that criteria better than other alternative rights.
I agree there too. That is precisely what natural and common rights do. And any law that violates someone's natural rights manifestly does NOT yield "the best good and least harm for everyone." It benefits some by inflicting harms on someone else.

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Marvin_Edwards
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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 28th, 2020, 7:38 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
No, Marvin. That is not merely a "possible" rule; it is the rule that has been followed almost universally, everywhere, since time immemorial. It is the rule embodied in such adages as "first come, first served" and "finders keepers." It is the rule underlying title searches and title insurance, obligatory in real estate purchases; it is the rule followed in all common law courts when adjudicating property disputes. It is the rule followed instinctively by everyone who prefers not to settle a property dispute with violence.
Again, what you're describing is a convention, a customary way of doing things. A rule. Your argument for the rule is basically that (a) it is the convention and (b) that it settles issues of property without violence.

But there are exceptions to that convention. One of the primary exceptions is "eminent domain", which is the right of the state or nation to buy your property, whether you choose to sell it or not, at a fair price, in order to provide a public good, such as a highway. According to Wikipedia, this concept dates back at least to 1066 AD, when William the Conqueror claimed ownership of all land. So, this too has a long history of precedence in common law. And it is noted in the 5th Amendment of the U.S. constitution as part of the Bill of Rights, that when private land is taken for public purpose the owner will be justly compensated.

Eminent domain also settles a property dispute without violence.

The notion here is that the public itself, through its legislature, has eminent domain over all private property. The public is the nation. The ultimate ownership of all land within the nation is held by the nation itself.

There are also many laws that restrict what a private land owner can do with her property. She cannot burn her trash when it may cause unintended fires elsewhere. She even has to clear the snow and ice from her walkways in winter. And so on.

Oh, and of course, the owner of a restaurant cannot place a "Whites Only" sign in the window.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Have you fogotten the moral basis for that rule outlined earlier? That rule is moral because if Alfie is the first possessor of X, then he will necessarily have obtained it without having inflicted loss or injury on anyone else. First possession is per force innocent possession. And that is a morally significant fact.
And racial discrimination in public accomodation is also a morally significant fact. One that outweighs the owner's rhetorical claim that he can do whatever he wishes because the restaurant belongs to him.
Marvin wrote:For example, why is that a better rule than one that says (a) "everything is owned in common" . . .
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Because there is no basis for such a claim. A claim of ownership, if it is to be cognitive, must have some factual basis. If it doesn't then it has no determinable truth value; it is cognitively meaningless.

And, of course, if everything is declared to be owned in common you have no means of settling disputes over who may occupy this tipi, eat this apple, use this spear.
Well, I was in college in the 1970's and communes were very popular back then. They have existed all over the world (see Wiki) and decisions are made by simple non-hierarchical consensus. And many of them claim that is the best way to live. So, common ownership is a valid alternative way of doing things.
Marvin wrote: . . .or (b) a rule that says "a person owns whatever he can successfully steal".
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Because stealing entails inflicting a loss or injury on someone, which, I assume you agree, is immoral prima facie..
Prima facie? Actually, it is an interesting exercise to try to come up with the moral reasoning behind a rule against theft. What would be the consequences if theft were generally allowed, as it may have been before it was declared morally wrong (perhaps back when we lived in caves)?

There is an economic harm caused by theft. A man invents and builds a chair. Another man steals the chair. Is the inventor more or less likely to build another chair? Well, he has to feed his family, so he may instead concentrate on his farm instead. Consequnce: fewer chairs.

But suppose there is a rule against theft, that is enforced by the community. The inventor builds a chair. Another farmer offers him food for the chair. The inventor builds another chair, selling it to another farmer for food. He becomes both proficient and efficient at building chairs, and finds he can support himself by trading his chairs for things that he needs. The consequence: everyone in the community has a chair and the inventor has plenty of food for his family.

The consequence of a rule against stealing is that the community has a greater variety and quantity of goods that they can exchange with each other for everyone's mutual benefit.

Therefore, it is morally better to have a rule against stealing (and a right to property that the rule creates) than it is to allow stealing.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Contracts exist only among people who have positively assented to them. No person is party to any contract to which he has not positively assented. If you deny that then you simply don't understand what a contract is.
Every time you refer to yourself as a citizen of the United States, you are implicitly assenting to the Constitution that created the nation that you claim to be a citizen of. No constitution, no nation. No nation, no citizenship.
You benefit, as we all do, from membership in this nation. Taxes are your membership dues. They are a valid debt, just like any other.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
But that comment is telling. It reveals that you conceive "membership" in a society to be like membership in a club, which members voluntarily join because they share the club's goals and agree to contribute to the attainment of those goals and abide by the club's by-laws. That conception of the structure of modern civilized societies is false. "Members" of such societies have not voluntarily joined, they do not share any common goals, and they've entered into no agreements with all other members. Assumptions to the contrary can only be maintained as quasi-religious "articles of faith," stubbornly held in the face of obvious empirical evidence refuting them.
Membership is given to you freely at birth, when you were too young to make your own choice.

But now you are old enough to decide for yourself whether you wish to remain a citizen. If you are still here, then you have deliberately chosen to be a part of this nation. No one is forcing you to stay. You are a citizen today because you have chosen to be a part of this nation of your own free will.
Marvin wrote:The formula you provide allows blacks and other minorities to be treated as a lower caste of citizens. And that is not right.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
I agree it is "not right." But one moral agent may not impose his personal moral views on other moral agents.

There are "public moralities" and "private moralities" (distinguished at length in other threads). Public moralities --- moralities binding upon all agents in moral field (a social setting) --- are concerned only with interactions between agents that inflict loss or injury on one or more agents. They do not embrace interactions that some people --- third parties --- may find unpleasant or distasteful or offensive, per some private morality they may hold. No agent has any duty to conform to the tenets of someone else's private morality.
A "Whites Only" sign in a restaurant window inflicts loss and injury upon any black person who wishes a convenient place to buy his lunch. To deny them a job, a house, or simply a place to eat lunch because they are black is a real loss and a real injury. While requiring the restaurant owner to accommodate them, like he does everyone else, causes no real loss and no real injury to the restaurant owner. Thus a law against racial decrimination is morally superior to any rule protecting the owner's right to discriminate.
Marvin wrote:Who we choose to respect is a private matter. But the nation has a commitment to every citizen that they not be forbidden to eat in a restaurant because of their race.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
That is self-contradictory. The "nation" is nothing but private individuals. Every restaurant is the property of some private individual. If "who we choose to respect is a private matter," then who restaurant owners choose to serve is a private matter.
The nation is assigned authority by private individuals to decide matters of common interest.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Nations, and other groups of people, are not moral agents; only their members are. To say that "the nation" has committed to some policy is just to say that some private individuals have committed to imposing their private moral judgments on other private individuals.
We have constituted our nation and our states with the authority to make laws in matters of public interest. Everyone has an equal right to vote for a legislator to represent them in making such laws. By our prior agreement, the laws passed by congress apply to all of us, whether we personally agree with them or not. If we disagree, then we can continue to advocate for our views, and perhaps prevail ourselves eventually. This is how we agreed to do things in America. This provides a means of peaceful social progress.

All practical rights arise by mutual agreement. Agreements are reached by making moral arguments based on objective evidence as to which rules/rights ought to prevail.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 28th, 2020, 10:46 pm

Ecurb wrote:
May 27th, 2020, 2:51 pm

Hmmm. Do children own their own bodies, by embracing the powers of ownership?
Yes.
Can't parents force them to go to school, do their chores, and eat broccoli?
Yes. Children are not moral agents; they're "moral patients," or "moral subjects" (same thing). Others may make some decisions for them until they're mature enough to make them for themselves.
I haven't read your links yet (I'm so busy posting on the internets), but I don't think any country with which I am familiar allows people to sell their own kidney.
That is correct. Those laws are arbitrary and have no moral significance. Someone who wishes to sell a kidney has every right to do so (and probably will), regardless of any laws.
The "benefits the property might yield" are subject to both tax and regulation; the power to dispose of the property is subject to tax and regulation; and the right and power to use the property is subject to regulation. If you drive your car at 100 mph, you will be arrested. Indeed, if you drive someone else's car that fast you will also be arrested, unless you are on the autobahn. Ownership (in fact) makes no difference in your right to legally drive any car at that speed, and controlling access is (of course) controlling the freedom of other people.
The exercise of every right is subject to regulation, because most of them can be exercised in ways that violate others' rights, or threaten to do so. Regulations having that purpose are morally defensible.

If you own a private road or racetrack you may drive your car as fast as you wish. But not on public highways. The owners of those highways, the public, may set limits on the way their property may be used, just as a private owner could.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Greta » May 30th, 2020, 3:13 am

Rights come from wrongs.

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Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by GE Morton » May 30th, 2020, 11:56 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 7:38 pm

Again, what you're describing is a convention, a customary way of doing things. A rule. Your argument for the rule is basically that (a) it is the convention and (b) that it settles issues of property without violence.
No, Marvin. The argument for that rule is a moral one, which I've articulated several times: property first possessed is held righteously, because it was acquired without inflicting loss or injury on anyone. That is what "rightful" possession means. Why do you ignore that argument?
But there are exceptions to that convention. One of the primary exceptions is "eminent domain", which is the right of the state or nation to buy your property, whether you choose to sell it or not, at a fair price, in order to provide a public good, such as a highway. According to Wikipedia, this concept dates back at least to 1066 AD, when William the Conqueror claimed ownership of all land. So, this too has a long history of precedence in common law. And it is noted in the 5th Amendment of the U.S. constitution as part of the Bill of Rights, that when private land is taken for public purpose the owner will be justly compensated.
Wrong again. Per US constititutional law eminent domain does not equate to, or presume, that the government is the owner of all land. If it were the owner, it would not need to compensate anyone for using it. You don't need to pay anyone to use what is yours. Moreover, the purposes for which the government can seize land are limited to "public use." The owner of property may use it for anything he wishes (subject to the "do no harm" constraint).

Eminent domain is a power sometimes "necessary and proper" for the government to carry out its other constitutional duties. It has been frequently abused, notably by the Supreme Court's infamous Kelo decision in 2005.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._C ... New_London

In the wake of that decision many states tightened their own eminent domain statutes, restricting what may count as a "public use."
There are also many laws that restrict what a private land owner can do with her property. She cannot burn her trash when it may cause unintended fires elsewhere. She even has to clear the snow and ice from her walkways in winter. And so on.
Yes. To the extent those restrictions are aimed at preventing harms to others they are morally defensible. That restriction applies to the exercise of all rights.
Oh, and of course, the owner of a restaurant cannot place a "Whites Only" sign in the window.
That one is not morally defensible, because placing such a sign, or refusing to do business with certain people, does not inflict loss or harm on anyone. It merely offends some people's sensibilities.
And racial discrimination in public accomodation is also a morally significant fact. One that outweighs the owner's rhetorical claim that he can do whatever he wishes because the restaurant belongs to him.
Only moral anarchists claim they can "do anything they wish" with their property. But if they claim they can do anything they wish with it that does not inflict losses or injuries on others, or create risks of doing so, then they are on solid moral ground. That is what having a right to something entails, what it means.
Well, I was in college in the 1970's and communes were very popular back then. They have existed all over the world (see Wiki) and decisions are made by simple non-hierarchical consensus. And many of them claim that is the best way to live. So, common ownership is a valid alternative way of doing things.
Communal ownership is fine in communities of people who have voluntarily joined and agreed to that arrangement. But, of course, most people in modern political societies have not voluntarily joined them, and have not agreed to any such arrangement. The first possession rule is the default rule, the one that applies among persons who have agreed to no alternative principle for determining ownership.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Because stealing entails inflicting a loss or injury on someone, which, I assume you agree, is immoral prima facie..
Prima facie? Actually, it is an interesting exercise to try to come up with the moral reasoning behind a rule against theft. What would be the consequences if theft were generally allowed, as it may have been before it was declared morally wrong (perhaps back when we lived in caves)?
Surely the answer to that is obvious.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
Contracts exist only among people who have positively assented to them. No person is party to any contract to which he has not positively assented. If you deny that then you simply don't understand what a contract is.
Every time you refer to yourself as a citizen of the United States, you are implicitly assenting to the Constitutionthat created the nation that you claim to be a citizen of. No constitution, no nation. No nation, no citizenship.
We've covered that, Marvin. When I refer to myself as a citizen, I'm merely acknowledging that I satisfy a widely understood definition of "citizen." That I satisfy it is a matter of fact. It has no moral implications and imposes no moral obligations on anyone who satisfies it, any more than does being an "Elmer" impose them on persons who happen to satisfy that definition. I also refer to myself as an "American." That, too, merely expresses a matter of fact --- that I was born and raised in a certain part of the world. It imposes no obligations or carries any moral implications either. Acknowledging those facts does not constitute "implicit assent" to anything; that is a gratuitous non sequitur. No fact implies any sort of assent or agreement by anyone to anything. You seem to be trying to derive an "ought" from an "is" there.
GE Morton wrote:
May 28th, 2020, 11:51 am
But that comment is telling. It reveals that you conceive "membership" in a society to be like membership in a club, which members voluntarily join because they share the club's goals and agree to contribute to the attainment of those goals and abide by the club's by-laws. That conception of the structure of modern civilized societies is false. "Members" of such societies have not voluntarily joined, they do not share any common goals, and they've entered into no agreements with all other members. Assumptions to the contrary can only be maintained as quasi-religious "articles of faith," stubbornly held in the face of obvious empirical evidence refuting them.
Membership is given to you freely at birth, when you were too young to make your own choice.

But now you are old enough to decide for yourself whether you wish to remain a citizen. If you are still here, then you have deliberately chosen to be a part of this nation. No one is forcing you to stay. You are a citizen today because you have chosen to be a part of this nation of your own free will.
Now you seem to be assuming that I need someone's permission to remain here, and that I must agree to some hypothetical "contract" to secure that permission. I suppose that assumption rests on the assumption, refuted above, that "the nation" and all the territory witihin it is some sort of collective property, owned in common by all citizens. That is, of course, false.

I remain here because it is the place with which I am familiar and am comfortable here. I need no one's permission to do so, and no one has any morally defensible authority or license to impose conditions on my doing so.
A "Whites Only" sign in a restaurant window inflicts loss and injury upon any black person who wishes a convenient place to buy his lunch. To deny them a job, a house, or simply a place to eat lunch because they are black is a real loss and a real injury.
No, Marvin, it is not. A loss or injury is a reduction in someone's welfare --- some act that makes someone worse off than he was before that act occurred. A person refused entry to a restaurant, or with whom someone else declines to enter into any other kind of relationship, has not sustained any reduction in his welfare. He is just as healthy, just as wealthy, when he walks away as when he approached the door. He's lost nothing and suffered no injuries. A refusal to confer a benefit does not constitute imposing a loss.

You need to consider the implications of your claim there. If everyone with whom someone else has declined to enter a relationship can claim he was "injured," and may force the other to enter that relationship or pay "damages," you've created a regime of universal State slavery.
While requiring the restaurant owner to accommodate them, like he does everyone else, causes no real loss and no real injury to the restaurant owner. Thus a law against racial decrimination is morally superior to any rule protecting the owner's right to discriminate.
Well, that depends on your criteria for evaluating/comparing the moral worth of various acts. But per any objective criteria your claim is false. As just argued, the person turned away suffers no loss or injury; nothing is taken from him. But the owner does suffer a loss, in the pleasure and satisfaction he gains from operating his business, and possibly from the loss of other paying customers. Suppose the State dictated that you must make that spare bedroom of yours available to a homeless person referred by the State. Would you consider the invasion of your privacy, your autonomy, and having no place to accommodate your kid when she comes to visit, a loss?

As I said, I agree that racial discrimination is ignorant and offensive. But that doesn't make it immoral. As Voltaire said with regard to speech, "I may disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."
The nation is assigned authority by private individuals to decide matters of common interest.
There is no "common interest" in outlawing racial discrimination, or in anything else. That is a term used much too glibly and thoughtlessly. It is always inaccurate. Everything asserted to be in the "common interest" or the "public interest" proves, with the most casual examination, to be in the interest of some people only.
By our prior agreement, the laws passed by congress apply to all of us, whether we personally agree with them or not. If we disagree, then we can continue to advocate for our views, and perhaps prevail ourselves eventually. This is how we agreed to do things in America. This provides a means of peaceful social progress.
Oh, my. You're still hanging your hat on a mythical "agreement" which obviously does not exist and for which you can produce no iota of evidence. Please produce a copy of this agreement signed by all persons you claim are parties to it. No presumptuous "implicit" agreements illogically deduced from non-moral facts, please. If you can't do that, then please abandon this fiction.

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