The notion of "right" derives from a sense of how things ought to be. It is not derived from issues of property. For example, if Alfie punches Bruno in the nose, for no reason, that is considered wrong. And it is not "wrong" because Bruno "owns" his nose. It is wrong because Bruno was unjustly harmed.GE Morton wrote: ↑May 17th, 2020, 1:59 pmThat 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.
In Alfie and Bruno's argument over the cow, it was properly settled in a court of law. That the court would be the means of settling disputes was by common agreement. Both Alfie and Bruno must agree to the court's authority if the matter is to be settled.
All rights arise by agreement.
In your second example, where you discover gold on unowned property and claim ownership of the gold, and I create a spear and claim ownership of the spear, what is it that prevents me from using my spear to take your gold?
It is our mutual agreement that we should each have a right to what we discover or create. Without that agreement, and a community to enforce it, your gold becomes mine.
In the case I presented earlier, where one person claims sole ownership of a natural resource (water) that everyone needs to survive, that right of ownership can only be sustained as long as everyone has sufficient water to thrive. Once that ownership is abused, and used to enslave others, that right of ownership is gone.
It has always been the right of the public, through its elected representatives, to forge agreements into law, and to provide a court system to enforce them.
The history of the claims of the public against the claims of private owners is filled with precedents where the private owner has abused his property rights at the expense of others. The rights of a manufacturer to hire children at low pay to do dangerous work and discard them when they are injured was abolished by laws preventing child labor, minimum wage laws, workman's compensation, and other rules guaranteeing the rights of workers.
The rights of owners of public accommodations, like restaurants and hotels, to refuse service on the basis of race has also been abolished.
All rights arise from agreements.