Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

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Marvin_Edwards
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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 14th, 2020, 8:22 pm

h_k_s wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 6:10 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 5:46 pm


And that is why rights, to be stable, must be based in objective moral judgments. Yeah, you heard me. Objective moral evaluation, based on the "best good and least harm for everyone", is the only criteria that everyone can agree to. And agreement is essential to make rights practical rather than merely rhetorical.



Rights that are dictated are not agreed to. Only those rights that are agreed to are real.



I think that is what I am doing.
Seems very idealistic to me.

I'll have to agree more with @Terrapin Station philosophically.

There really are no "rights." There are only cultural conventions that are locally agreed on.
I think the notion of "right" means "things as they ought to be". There's right-handed, right angles, "what he did is not right", and so on. So, people do disagree as to how things ought to be. But these things can also be negotiated, and even studied scientifically. The better the information, the more likely that we will find the basis of a meaningful agreement. And, yes, I am idealistic.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by h_k_s » May 15th, 2020, 12:48 pm

GregRogers wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 8:20 pm
h_k_s wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 4:22 pm


Pretty much, yes. Especially yes when political power is involved.
So then you are saying that "rights" do not have normative power? In other words, I cannot say you "ought" to grant me certain rights because it is purely to your individual agency whether you wish to grant them to me?
As @Terrapin Station correctly pointed out, "rights" do not exist, unless graciously granted by someone else in power. Power exists, and there are different kinds. The ability to get someone else to do your bidding is power, whether by force, by persuasion, or by bribery.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by h_k_s » May 15th, 2020, 12:49 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 8:22 pm
h_k_s wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 6:10 pm


Seems very idealistic to me.

I'll have to agree more with @Terrapin Station philosophically.

There really are no "rights." There are only cultural conventions that are locally agreed on.
I think the notion of "right" means "things as they ought to be". There's right-handed, right angles, "what he did is not right", and so on. So, people do disagree as to how things ought to be. But these things can also be negotiated, and even studied scientifically. The better the information, the more likely that we will find the basis of a meaningful agreement. And, yes, I am idealistic.
"... things as they ought to be" are more correctly called "ideals."

"Rights" are concession granted by someone else who is in power.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by GregRogers » May 15th, 2020, 1:47 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 8:22 pm
h_k_s wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 6:10 pm


Seems very idealistic to me.

I'll have to agree more with @Terrapin Station philosophically.

There really are no "rights." There are only cultural conventions that are locally agreed on.
I think the notion of "right" means "things as they ought to be". There's right-handed, right angles, "what he did is not right", and so on. So, people do disagree as to how things ought to be. But these things can also be negotiated, and even studied scientifically. The better the information, the more likely that we will find the basis of a meaningful agreement. And, yes, I am idealistic.
Marvin,

Think I might need to drop a flag and accuse of the naturalistic fallacy. What a community negotiates is not necessarily what they "ought" to negotiate.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 15th, 2020, 9:40 pm

GregRogers wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 1:47 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 14th, 2020, 8:22 pm


I think the notion of "right" means "things as they ought to be". There's right-handed, right angles, "what he did is not right", and so on. So, people do disagree as to how things ought to be. But these things can also be negotiated, and even studied scientifically. The better the information, the more likely that we will find the basis of a meaningful agreement. And, yes, I am idealistic.
Marvin,

Think I might need to drop a flag and accuse of the naturalistic fallacy. What a community negotiates is not necessarily what they "ought" to negotiate.
Oh, I never commit fallacies. Heck, I don't know even know what a "naturalistic fallacy" is. Nor do I care. Switching the discussion to one about fallacies would be a defense mechanism. But, back on topic...

I agree that a community often comes up with bad notions as to what their rights are. A glaring example would be the claim that there was a right to enslave black people, because they were different from us, and worshiped pagan gods. The Southern States passed a law that required anyone who found a runaway slave must return them to their owner, thus guaranteeing the owner's right to own slaves. Obvious to us now, from our perspective, that was not things as they "ought" to have been.

How things ought to be was argued by those who fought the legal and later the military battles to end slavery. The right to own slaves was abolished. However, the right of black people to be treated equally is still being fought for.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by GregRogers » May 16th, 2020, 11:24 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 9:40 pm
GregRogers wrote:
May 15th, 2020, 1:47 pm


Marvin,

Think I might need to drop a flag and accuse of the naturalistic fallacy. What a community negotiates is not necessarily what they "ought" to negotiate.
Oh, I never commit fallacies. Heck, I don't know even know what a "naturalistic fallacy" is. Nor do I care. Switching the discussion to one about fallacies would be a defense mechanism. But, back on topic...

I agree that a community often comes up with bad notions as to what their rights are. A glaring example would be the claim that there was a right to enslave black people, because they were different from us, and worshiped pagan gods. The Southern States passed a law that required anyone who found a runaway slave must return them to their owner, thus guaranteeing the owner's right to own slaves. Obvious to us now, from our perspective, that was not things as they "ought" to have been.

How things ought to be was argued by those who fought the legal and later the military battles to end slavery. The right to own slaves was abolished. However, the right of black people to be treated equally is still being fought for.
Naturalistic fallacy is from Hume; also known as the "is-ought" problem. One should be careful in asserting that something "ought" to be based on what "is". My point, as you note, that what is negotiated is not necessarily ethical.

If we say that there was a right to enslave black people but the right was ethical, then we have to say that "rights" are a relative matter of convention. I could deprive you of your "rights" and be acting ethically.

Although this is consistent, I don't know if this is how the idea of rights is generally understood.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by GE Morton » May 17th, 2020, 1:59 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 13th, 2020, 2:11 pm
Bill Glod has a video called “The Nature of Rights” on the libertarianism.org website. He explores two views of rights.
That video is here, for anyone interested:

https://www.libertarianism.org/media/ar ... ure-rights

While Blod does a fairly good job of explaining the differences between the consequentialist and deontological approaches to morality, he does not at all make it clear just what "rights" are, or how they can be derived from either of them.

The term "rights" --- as it is understood in most of the West --- does not have its origin in philosophy, but in law, particulary English common law, primarily in cases involving disputes over property --- whose claim to this cow, this tract of land, this wagon, this game animal, should be considered valid? I.e., who should be considered the rightful owner of that thing? When the facts of the case lead to the conclusion that Alfie, not Bruno, is the rightful owner, that his claim and not Bruno's is valid, then we attach a pseudo-property to Alfie to mark that fact --- we say that Alfie has a "right" to the cow. We speak of that fact about him and his relationship to the cow as though it is a property he has.

What are the facts that give rise to a decision in favor of Alfie's, and not Bruno's claim to the cow?

Nearly always, it is the fact of first possession, or first occupancy. The legitimate claimant to any disputed good is the person who either first had possession of it, or who acquired it via a "chain of consent" from that first possessor. Normally, one becomes the first possessor of a thing by either discovering it or creating it. If I find a deposit of gold on unowned land, then it becomes my property the moment I unearth it and state a claim to it. If you fashion a spear from an unowned, unclaimed stick you found in the forest, it becomes your property the moment you find it aand take possession of it. I have a right to the gold, you have a right to the spear.

So questions about who has rights to what, and what rights anyone has, are not moral question, but factual ones. The real moral question is, What duty does anyone have to honor others' rights?

Those questions cannot be answered by working backwards from some moral preconception or theory. Someone who approaches the such questions from that direction does not understand what the term "rights" means, historically speaking. Rights are not things people ought to have, or ought to be granted to them, because it would be "good" for them to have them, per someone's notion of what counts as a good, or someone's moral intuitions. They denote, instead a historical fact about that person and the things to which he claims rights.

Blod also declares himself to be mystified by the term "natural rights." There is nothing mysterious about that term. Rights, remember, are claims to things of which the claimant is the first possessor. Most such things are things which, as mentioned, were either discovered or created by the claimant. But one is also the first possessor of certain other things he did not discover or create --- instead, they are things he brought with him into the world, things with which he was born --- his natural possessions, such as his life, his body and all its parts, his natural talents and capacities and abilities. Rights to those things are the natural rights.

Though they do not have their origin in moral philosophy, rights, as classically understood, do have a powerful moral justification: if you are the first possessor of something, then you will have acquired it without inflicting any loss or injury on any other moral agent, since no one could possibly have benefited from that thing until it was discovered or created. Your possession of it is innocent. Anyone who subsequently takes it from you, on the other hand, does inflict a loss or injury on someone --- you.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 17th, 2020, 4:08 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 1:59 pm
...
Nearly always, it is the fact of first possession, or first occupancy. The legitimate claimant to any disputed good is the person who either first had possession of it, or who acquired it via a "chain of consent" from that first possessor. Normally, one becomes the first possessor of a thing by either discovering it or creating it. If I find a deposit of gold on unowned land, then it becomes my property the moment I unearth it and state a claim to it. If you fashion a spear from an unowned, unclaimed stick you found in the forest, it becomes your property the moment you find it aand take possession of it. I have a right to the gold, you have a right to the spear.

So questions about who has rights to what, and what rights anyone has, are not moral question, but factual ones. The real moral question is, What duty does anyone have to honor others' rights?
...
So, an early explorer stakes out his claim to a piece of land at the base of a mountain. The value of this land is enhanced by a perpetual spring that is fed by the underground runoff from the rain on the mountain. It is the only source of water for a hundred miles in any direction. So, he shares this water with his neighbors who have come to farm the land around his property. And, all is well.

But the man passes away and leaves all he owns to his son, who is not so generous. The son charges his neighbors for the water. The neighbors have no choice but to pay. Each year he raises the price of water. One by one, the neighbors find it impossible to meet the price, and are forced to sell their property to the son in exchange for the water. Over time, all of his neighbors become sharecroppers, working for the son, and paying him an ever-increasing share of their crops. They have lost all of their land and their property to the son. But they must eat. And to eat they must farm. And to farm they must have water. And the water is owned by one man.

What shall they do?

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by GE Morton » May 17th, 2020, 6:34 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 4:08 pm

So, an early explorer stakes out his claim to a piece of land at the base of a mountain. The value of this land is enhanced by a perpetual spring that is fed by the underground runoff from the rain on the mountain. It is the only source of water for a hundred miles in any direction. So, he shares this water with his neighbors who have come to farm the land around his property. And, all is well.

But the man passes away and leaves all he owns to his son, who is not so generous. The son charges his neighbors for the water. The neighbors have no choice but to pay. Each year he raises the price of water. One by one, the neighbors find it impossible to meet the price, and are forced to sell their property to the son in exchange for the water. Over time, all of his neighbors become sharecroppers, working for the son, and paying him an ever-increasing share of their crops. They have lost all of their land and their property to the son. But they must eat. And to eat they must farm. And to farm they must have water. And the water is owned by one man.

What shall they do?
Well, first, that a spring fed by mountain runoff is the "only source of water for a hundred miles in any direction" is highly implausible. Water runs off mountains in all directions.

But be that as it may, the farmers who naively rely on someone's generosity need to develop better judgment. They insist on a renewable lease or a water easement, and if those are not granted they seek somewhere else to stake their claims and plant their beans, one where their water supply is not so tenuous. If they accept the risk of not doing so, then they live with the consequences.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by Ecurb » May 17th, 2020, 7:22 pm

All legal rights are nothing more than the legal ability of one person to control other people. Property rights (beloved of Libertarians) don't involve anyone's relationship with the property. How could they? Your car doesn't care who owns it. However, if someone tries to drive your car without your permission, or sleep in your house without your permission, you can call the police and have him handcuffed, dragged away, and locked up.

The same is true of all rights. The "right to life" does not protect anyone from covid19, grizzly bear attacks, or cancer. It merely confers a legal obligation on other people not to kill you, under penalty of law. Rights can be properly viewed only when we see them as legal obligations on the part of our fellow citizens, enforced by the violence and majesty of the law, or by the consciences of our morally astute neighbors. The are "inalienable" only if other people respect their obligations vis a vis your rights, or if the state enforces the obligations your rights confer upon others.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 17th, 2020, 7:42 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 6:34 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 4:08 pm

So, an early explorer stakes out his claim to a piece of land at the base of a mountain. The value of this land is enhanced by a perpetual spring that is fed by the underground runoff from the rain on the mountain. It is the only source of water for a hundred miles in any direction. So, he shares this water with his neighbors who have come to farm the land around his property. And, all is well.

But the man passes away and leaves all he owns to his son, who is not so generous. The son charges his neighbors for the water. The neighbors have no choice but to pay. Each year he raises the price of water. One by one, the neighbors find it impossible to meet the price, and are forced to sell their property to the son in exchange for the water. Over time, all of his neighbors become sharecroppers, working for the son, and paying him an ever-increasing share of their crops. They have lost all of their land and their property to the son. But they must eat. And to eat they must farm. And to farm they must have water. And the water is owned by one man.

What shall they do?
Well, first, that a spring fed by mountain runoff is the "only source of water for a hundred miles in any direction" is highly implausible. Water runs off mountains in all directions.

But be that as it may, the farmers who naively rely on someone's generosity need to develop better judgment. They insist on a renewable lease or a water easement, and if those are not granted they seek somewhere else to stake their claims and plant their beans, one where their water supply is not so tenuous. If they accept the risk of not doing so, then they live with the consequences.
Hey! It's my example. I set the constraints. So, our mountain is on an island in the ocean (salt water). The island was discovered by the man and his wife. They raised a family. He divided the island among his children, who intermarried (see the film "Hawaii") and raised families of their own. After several generations, the great great grandson who inherited the land with the only water supply, started to charge his neighbors (cousins) for the water.

The rest proceeds as originally outlined. The son leveraged his control of the only water on the island to deprive all of his cousins of their land and their freedom. So, what do his cousins do?

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by GE Morton » May 17th, 2020, 9:27 pm

Basically the same answer, Marvin. Siblings from the first generation whose land did not include water rights either negotiate easements with the water-rich sibling, invest in a desalinization plant, or abandon the island. Perhaps they can sell their bequests to someone who doesn't need fresh water, such as the operator of a landfill.

In any case none of them have any rights to anything on the island not granted to them in their father's will.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by GE Morton » May 17th, 2020, 9:41 pm

Ecurb wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 7:22 pm
All legal rights are nothing more than the legal ability of one person to control other people.
Sometimes that's true. Legislatures are notorious for concocting fiat rights "(frights") out of thin air. But rights as understood in the common law tradition have a clear and rationally defensible moral basis, as mentioned earlier.
Property rights (beloved of Libertarians) don't involve anyone's relationship with the property. How could they? Your car doesn't care who owns it.
Whether some item of property "cares" about who owns it is not the criterion for determining whether there is a relationship between it and its owner. If P is the discoverer or creator of x, that is a relationship between P and x.
However, if someone tries to drive your car without your permission, or sleep in your house without your permission, you can call the police and have him handcuffed, dragged away, and locked up.
Yes, if the local criminal justice system works as it should.
The "right to life" does not protect anyone from covid19, grizzly bear attacks, or cancer. It merely confers a legal obligation on other people not to kill you, under penalty of law.
Yes. That is their purpose --- to constrain the actions of other moral agents with respect to you and those things to which you have rights. They do not constrain or apply to the workings of natural laws, "acts of God," or the fickle finger of fate.
Rights can be properly viewed only when we see them as legal obligations on the part of our fellow citizens . . .
Oh, no. Good laws enforce rights, but the concept of a right precedes any laws. We need to know what rights people have BEFORE we can enact any morally defensible laws.

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 17th, 2020, 9:59 pm

GE Morton wrote:
May 17th, 2020, 9:27 pm
Basically the same answer, Marvin. Siblings from the first generation whose land did not include water rights either negotiate easements with the water-rich sibling, invest in a desalinization plant, or abandon the island. Perhaps they can sell their bequests to someone who doesn't need fresh water, such as the operator of a landfill.

In any case none of them have any rights to anything on the island not granted to them in their father's will.
Well, they could not leave the island as it was the only spot of land on the planet and they had no technology for desalinization. So, they were forced to negotiate easements with their water-rich sibling. And here is how that negotiation went:
Water-rich Sibling: "I will give you water for one year in return for ownership of your land".
The rest: "We have no choice but to comply."
Water-rich Sibling next year: "I will give you water for one year if I can deflower your virgin daughters."
The rest: "We have no choice but to comply."
Etc.
What are the rest to do?

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Re: Explaining Rights to Libertarians (e.g. Bill Glod)

Post by Steve3007 » May 18th, 2020, 7:31 am

GE Morton wrote:...if you are the first possessor of something, then you will have acquired it without inflicting any loss or injury on any other moral agent, since no one could possibly have benefited from that thing until it was discovered or created. Your possession of it is innocent. Anyone who subsequently takes it from you, on the other hand, does inflict a loss or injury on someone --- you.
The description of rights that you've set out in the post which ended with the above quote broadly makes sense. But in previous conversations, in related topics, the disagreement with other posters has usually arisen when the concept of "commons" is considered. At that point, arguments usually break out as to what should be considered to be a "common" and to what extent we should regard individuals as inadvertently interdependent. I think Marvin's increasingly imaginative thought experiment vaguely touches on that.

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