|Ed, you said:|
If, as Rand stated in 1972, men are endowed with rights by Nature (i.e., if men are metaphysically endowed with rights); and if, as Rand stated in 1973, rights are independent existents to be "recognized" (or -- in some cases -- not sufficiently recognized) -- then we can morally judge any society (based on whether it respects these "really-existing" rights of humans).
However, if rights are only "products" of a very specific and refined line of thinking (i.e., if they're epistemologically "born"), then we can't judge societies thusly -- because we can't be sure that these countries' leaders are mentally following along with the correct thinking that leads one to the correct conceptual adoption and integration of Individual Rights.
Have I just made this difference in real-world outcomes clear to you?
I think this is a non-sequitor. You're stating you don't care whether a person recognizes rights or not, that you think it is morally proper to use violence against them. And then you state, without cause, that if rights are moral principles, then we can't respond with violence unless they accept these principles. Why is that? You seem to be treating the moral view of rights as if it were simply convention. But if, as Robert and I have stated repeatedly, they are grounded in facts of reality, then those facts are still there.
Let me turn it around on you again. If you view rights as metaphysical, as you keep saying you do, then they just exist, for everyone, including the dictator. How can you use violence against him, by your theory? At some point, you have to say that while he may have these intrinsic rights, it's morallly acceptable to ignore them and use violence against him anyway. In other words, you think it's acceptable to violate his rights in those cases. But why do you get to? Isn't a theory that tells you when its okay to violate his rights be "a very specific and refined line of thinking", as you said? If he doesn't agree, wouldn't you have to let him be?
The difference between the your intrinsicist view of rights and our objective view of rights is that you consider the murderer still has rights, whereas I don't. You think they just exist. They're just "out there". I think rights are a moral sanction. I don't say that the murder has the right to live his life free of coercion from others, and we violate those rights as a necessary evil. I say that when he initiates force against others, he no longer has a right to be free of coercion.
Robert has already pointed out why he doesn't find any value in debating you. Let me add my own version. We've established over and over that rights are not some kind of metaphysical existent, that you can point to, carry, or whatever. And while claiming some of the time that you don't think that's true, you continue to use the terminology. While we have gone to great lengths to discuss the idea behind the concept, and why there is confusion on its use, you simply throw the word "rights" around as if nobody has spoken a word. What are these magical things called rights that exist out there? The requirements for living? Moral sanctions? Your last post says:
Recognizing that rights exist independently of our thought about them -- is what it is that justifies our current actions in the Middle East, for example.But you don't even both stopping to ask how we would justify it. It doesn't take that much. We aren't idiots who think rights are some subjective whim. We have repeatedly said that we recognize that rights are grounded the in the requirements of men to live free, so they can live by their minds. Absolutely we are able to justify going and stopping a murderer or a dictator. We recognize that it is within our interests to stop those people who prevent men from living free, and to help those people willing to live harmoniously with us. I've said it repeatedly in this thread. The facts are there, and our position is not ignorant of them.
So I get the impression that you have no idea what you're arguing for or against here. When we look for clarification, you're unable to provide it for your own position, and you certainly can't even come close to describing our position. And you don't seem the slightest bit concerned.
So again, let me point out the problem of your "rights just exist" theory. By that theory, the dictator has the right to be free, so your theory of rights should say that we can't attack him. But you conveniently ignore your own theory of rights and claim you have to do what you have to do. So then, violation of rights does not mean anything. It's not a good thing. It's not a bad thing. Your "rights" are by themselves morally content-free. You say
And, being metaphysical, they allow us to judge governing bodies (as to whether and how much they respect rights).Since you think dictators and murderers have rights, it would appear that a government that violated the rights of them would be judged negatively. And if you tried protecting yourself, at the cost of killing innocent civilians (collateral damage), you would be a rights violator.
And in fact, we have here an admission of Robert's original criticism. That this is what the intrinsic view of rights leads to. You can't oppose dictators, because you would be violating their rights, and the rights of any bystander that got hurt. It does directly lead to pacficism.
So far, the big difference between your view and our view of rights is that your view of rights is useless as a moral guide at best, and at worst a call for sacrifice of your life to this metaphsyical, intrinsic value.