Where Do Rights Come From?

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
Post Reply
User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 485
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 23rd, 2020, 6:38 am

gad-fly wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 11:31 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 8:21 pm

But isn't being fair and maintaining orderly peace a benefit and reduction of harm?
Not appropriate. Benefit and harm is utilitarian. Plus or minus. Right is about balance. Give and take. Being fair to self and all. Benefit and harm is out of the picture.
From Pragmatism I naturally tend to look at the utility of things. What things "mean" in terms of what they "do", the consequences. The question I ask myself (and others) is what is the "point" of something. Or, "what is it good for?". So, benefit and harm for me are always in the picture. To me that's the key to understanding morality. Morality seeks the best good and least harm for everyone.

On the other hand, ironically, I really hate Utilitarianism. To me, the Utilitarians chose the WRONG utility! They chose pleasure and pain as the utility of their morality. Achieving the best pleasure and the least pain are NOT reliable guides to what is right and wrong, or what is good and bad. There are too many things that "feel" good but which are objectively bad for us, like heroin or gluttony or all the other bad habits we can get into. And there are some very important things that are very painful, like childbirth, or getting our childhood vaccinations, that are clearly good for us.

So, morality should be about what is actually good or bad for us, rather than what merely feels good or feels bad to us. And feelings are malleable. So the correct order of things is to first discover what is good for us, and second to choose to feel good about it.

User avatar
Pattern-chaser
Posts: 807
Joined: September 22nd, 2019, 5:17 am
Favorite Philosopher: Heidegger
Location: England

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pattern-chaser » May 23rd, 2020, 7:13 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 10:33 pm
When Jefferson speaks of men being “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, he is speaking rhetorically.
Is he? Could it not be that he is making the sort of literal statement that a religious person would make? I think he is saying that humans have rights, and that those rights were given to them by God. Don't you agree?
Pattern-chaser

"Who cares, wins"

User avatar
Pattern-chaser
Posts: 807
Joined: September 22nd, 2019, 5:17 am
Favorite Philosopher: Heidegger
Location: England

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pattern-chaser » 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?
Pattern-chaser

"Who cares, wins"

User avatar
Pattern-chaser
Posts: 807
Joined: September 22nd, 2019, 5:17 am
Favorite Philosopher: Heidegger
Location: England

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pattern-chaser » May 23rd, 2020, 7:28 am

Ecurb wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 9:37 pm
One thing is certain: the "right to life" cannot be "unalienable" in nations that allow capital punishment; the right to liberty cannot be unalienable in nations that imprison criminals. The case for the "pursuit of happiness" is, perhaps, less clear.
👍🙂🙂🙂

Moral matters are rarely consistent or logical. They reflect human values, after all. 😉
Pattern-chaser

"Who cares, wins"

User avatar
Pattern-chaser
Posts: 807
Joined: September 22nd, 2019, 5:17 am
Favorite Philosopher: Heidegger
Location: England

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pattern-chaser » May 23rd, 2020, 7:34 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 6:38 am
From Pragmatism I naturally tend to look at the utility of things.

[...]

On the other hand, ironically, I really hate Utilitarianism.
Do you really find it worthwhile to frame your philosophy in terms of schools of philosophy? I find it difficult. I don't like having to accept the baggage that can accompany a good idea, if I have to accept all of the ideas of the school of philosophy from which the idea emerges. I appreciate the freedom of being able to adopt just one of (say) your ideas, and to reject the rest. Don't we all think and work that way? So is the whole idea of schools of philosophy counter-productive, in the sense that I have described here? 🤔
Pattern-chaser

"Who cares, wins"

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 485
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 23rd, 2020, 11:25 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 7:13 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 10:33 pm
When Jefferson speaks of men being “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, he is speaking rhetorically.
Is he? Could it not be that he is making the sort of literal statement that a religious person would make? I think he is saying that humans have rights, and that those rights were given to them by God. Don't you agree?
There was a drive-by shooting outside. A stray bullet went through the window and killed a baby in her crib. The child's right to life was alienated from her, and the Creator did not step in to prevent it.

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 485
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 23rd, 2020, 11:27 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 7:34 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 6:38 am
From Pragmatism I naturally tend to look at the utility of things.

[...]

On the other hand, ironically, I really hate Utilitarianism.
Do you really find it worthwhile to frame your philosophy in terms of schools of philosophy? I find it difficult. I don't like having to accept the baggage that can accompany a good idea, if I have to accept all of the ideas of the school of philosophy from which the idea emerges. I appreciate the freedom of being able to adopt just one of (say) your ideas, and to reject the rest. Don't we all think and work that way? So is the whole idea of schools of philosophy counter-productive, in the sense that I have described here? 🤔
Interesting question, but not one I wish to explore in this conversation.

User avatar
Pattern-chaser
Posts: 807
Joined: September 22nd, 2019, 5:17 am
Favorite Philosopher: Heidegger
Location: England

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pattern-chaser » May 23rd, 2020, 12:18 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 21st, 2020, 10:33 pm
When Jefferson speaks of men being “endowed by their Creator” with certain rights, he is speaking rhetorically.
Pattern-chaser wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 7:13 am
Is he? Could it not be that he is making the sort of literal statement that a religious person would make? I think he is saying that humans have rights, and that those rights were given to them by God. Don't you agree?
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 11:25 am
There was a drive-by shooting outside. A stray bullet went through the window and killed a baby in her crib. The child's right to life was alienated from her, and the Creator did not step in to prevent it.
I'm not arguing for or against God. I'm simply wondering what Jefferson meant when he wrote what he wrote. You stated he's "speaking rhetorically", and I think he may be speaking (as a believer) quite literally. What do you think?
Pattern-chaser

"Who cares, wins"

User avatar
Pattern-chaser
Posts: 807
Joined: September 22nd, 2019, 5:17 am
Favorite Philosopher: Heidegger
Location: England

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pattern-chaser » May 23rd, 2020, 12:19 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 11:27 am
Interesting question, but not one I wish to explore in this conversation.
Fair enough. So let's continue this conversation without diverting into schools of philosophy, as you did (and which I commented on). What do you say?
Pattern-chaser

"Who cares, wins"

User avatar
Terrapin Station
Posts: 3390
Joined: August 23rd, 2016, 3:00 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Bertrand Russell and WVO Quine
Location: NYC Man

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Terrapin Station » May 23rd, 2020, 3:27 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
May 22nd, 2020, 7:49 pm
Well, our brains work with both reason and emotion. And sometimes one brain comes up with a different set of rights than another.
Yes, that happens often.

User avatar
Pantagruel
Posts: 202
Joined: July 2nd, 2019, 5:26 pm
Favorite Philosopher: George Herbert Mead

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pantagruel » May 23rd, 2020, 7:33 pm

I believe Mill says that obligations of perfect create duties which give rise to corresponding rights in assignable persons. That has always worked for me.

User avatar
Pantagruel
Posts: 202
Joined: July 2nd, 2019, 5:26 pm
Favorite Philosopher: George Herbert Mead

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pantagruel » May 23rd, 2020, 7:34 pm

Sorry. I should have read more carefully. I forgot about the no-edit thing.

I believe Mill says that obligations of perfect justice create duties which give rise to corresponding rights in assignable persons. That has always worked for me.

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 485
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 23rd, 2020, 8:16 pm

Pantagruel wrote:
May 23rd, 2020, 7:34 pm
Sorry. I should have read more carefully. I forgot about the no-edit thing.

I believe Mill says that obligations of perfect justice create duties which give rise to corresponding rights in assignable persons. That has always worked for me.
Can you describe or give an example of how that works?

User avatar
Pantagruel
Posts: 202
Joined: July 2nd, 2019, 5:26 pm
Favorite Philosopher: George Herbert Mead

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Pantagruel » May 24th, 2020, 6:03 am

Well, I found a summary online better than anything I could come up with in short order:

http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/p ... rights.htm

I thought it a little long to post.

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 485
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: Where Do Rights Come From?

Post by Marvin_Edwards » May 24th, 2020, 7:49 am

Pantagruel wrote:
May 24th, 2020, 6:03 am
Well, I found a summary online better than anything I could come up with in short order:

http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/p ... rights.htm

I thought it a little long to post.
It sounds like Mill is using "perfect" duty to refer to ethical duty (arising from an existing agreement, e.g., law), and "imperfect duty" to refer to moral duty (arising out of a good will, e.g., love, a desire to benefit others or reduce their harm).

Using "perfect" and "imperfect" seems to be less explanatory to me (they carry less utility 🙂).

The notion of utility is "what is something good for" or "how can we use it". Morality is good for goodness. Ethics is good for rightness. Morality does not serve happiness. Rather, happiness should serve goodness. We should feel good about being good and doing good.

Post Reply