Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Saturday, December 31, 2016 - 3:55pmSanction this postReply

Steve, I don't like parts of my formulation above.  Rand said in VoS there is only one fundamental right, a man’s right to his own life.


So in the case of the x-ray glasses person, I have a right to life which also means the right to my own body, which doesn't change in the social context.  When I get clothed and go into public someone with x-ray glasses doesn't have a right to my body, so he's violating an individual right.  Same with the upskirt photographer perv.


With the hypothetical mind reading device, I have a right to life thus my own mind, so if someone uses a mind reading device on me without my consent he's violating an individual right.


Are these examples consistent with Objectivism if no force was involved?  I will say if no device was involved, then it would take an act force to accomplish the same goal.  The devices in these examples are clearly being used to circumvent using force.

Post 21

Sunday, January 1, 2017 - 10:13amSanction this postReply

...someone with x-ray glasses doesn't have a right to my body, so he's violating an individual right. 


So far as I know, my understanding of rights is in agreement with Ayn Rand's (I got all of the basic concepts from her).  You do have a right to your body.  To be more precise you have many rights that relate to your body.


Rights are best thought of as a bundle of defined actions that a person can take relative to a specific entity without anyone's permission.  You have a moral right to breath (an action you can take relative to your body that needs no permission).   Rand was clear in saying that moral rights only pertain to actions.  For an example of a bundle of actions: I own my car (it is my property) and my property is best thought of as a bundle of actions I can take that require no one's permission relative to that object - the car (I can start it, drive it, sell it, repair it, etc.)  If it were a rental car, my property - my bundle of rights - would be fewer.  I would have the right to possess it, but only during a specified time period and only if I'm paid up on the rent, I have the right to drive it, but not the right to sell it, etc.


In the absence of any contractual relationship to the contrary, you are the only one with a bundle of rights (set of actions) relative to your body.  You are the only owner of your body.

Rand was clear in saying that the only way an individual right could be violated was through force, threat of force, fraud or theft (because those are the only way to abrogate choice.  And rights don't just arise from man's life, but also from choice, which he must use to support that life).


Now, can you tell me which of the actions that make up your bundle of rights to your body have been violated via force, threat of force, fraud or theft when the person looks at you with the x-ray glasses?  That is where I get hung up.  For example, if a powerful person squeezed me, against my will, so hard that I couldn't breath we could see the action that I have by right that is being denied and we can see the use of force that is the act of violation. 


If we imagine that x-ray glasses were to be invented next year, then I imagine that within weeks you would be able to buy underwear that blocked the x-ray function.   Kind of like glass windows and window shades.



Are these examples consistent with Objectivism if no force was involved?  I will say if no device was involved, then it would take an act force to accomplish the same goal.  The devices in these examples are clearly being used to circumvent using force.


That's an excellent argument.  But, if I rent a car, I can drive it - even though I don't own it.  It wouldn't make sense to say that the 'rental process' was a way to circumvent the use of force.  The rental process is mutually consensual.  It involves choice on both sides.  The x-ray glasses and mind reading don't involve choice on both sides.  But what is taken (if nothing is taken there is no theft or fraud or extortion)?  What is being prohibited that would otherwise be open to choice (threat of force)?  What action that one has a right to is being denied (force)?

I think that you would have to say that (in the case of x-ray glasses) that somehow the image of an unclothed body is property (part of a bundle of rights) and that the viewing of that body by another without their choice (and no trespass or force in use) is denying them some action they would otherwise be able to take.


I am arguing in the fashion of a Devil's advocate since in my heart I think that individual rights (based more on the issue of choice than anything else) should exclude mind-reading at a distance devices that use no coersive or damaging force or physical trespass.  Maybe that one is just an issue of theft of ideas.  But the x-ray glasses.... that's more of a borderline issue.


In the case of moral philosophy, what we are doing is what should happen - chewing on borderline issues to help clarify the concepts.  But the law can't have a grey area.  It has to take the best moral principle stating individual rights and define specific laws that prohibit any action that would violate the stated moral right (action or actions).  For the law, I clearly agree with Bill Dwyer that it should be defined in terms of recognized property rights and it would require some kind of theft or trespass as a violation.  Better to have people use window shades if they choose to have windows then to make laws against looking through a window as you walk by on public property or from your own property. 

Post 22

Sunday, January 1, 2017 - 8:11pmSanction this postReply

In The Fountainhead, Rand wrote about privacy during Roark's speech, "All the functions of body and spirit are private."  The 1828 Webster's Dictionary has a good definition of private, "1. Properly, separate; unconnected with others; hence, peculiar to one's self; belonging to or concerning an individual only."  Surely when I venture out into public I expect to be perceived, but I don't expect to be looked at through my clothing with x-ray glasses, or have my mind read with a device.  These are clear violations of privacy.  I think what I said before, that without the devices it would take physical force to accomplish the same goals, is a reasonable interpretation.  The intent of the perpetrator is to use the device and get around the law about physical force.  If there were an Objectivist society, I would hope the courts would see it this way.  Regarding the x-ray glasses, it might not be so far fetched.

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Post 23

Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 3:54pmSanction this postReply

I have always thought that 'public', meaning the commons area outside each person's private property, meant 'open to all', tho that is not how it seem to be accepted, as if it were, then one should be able if one wished to go about naked for instance regardless if offends some puritan, else it'd be discriminating against a nudist in a public place - and that it is only in a private property that said restrictions validly should be imposed...  is this objectively in error?


and yes, am back, after losing all my bookmarks when the old computer fudded, have finalle remembered this place and now able to get on...


(Edited by robert malcom on 6/10, 3:56pm)

Post 24

Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 5:35pmSanction this postReply

Robert, you were missed.  I'm glad you found your way back.  My sympathies on the crashed computer.



Private can be opposed to public in the meaning who knowns about something.  E.g., something is being kept private (secret or only known to a few) and the public doesn't yet know.


===Other People===

It is interesting that the you can put "the" in front of "public" and make it a kind of open-ended group of people.



In terms of ownership, things become private when ownership isn't open to the public, like a privately held corporation - even if the corporation is a set of stores open to the public.  Another use of 'private' relating to ownership: "He took us to a private home in the area." - belongs to some specific person or persons, and not to all people - like a private club.


===Spaces and Commons===

I think that public is a word used about spaces open to anyone (to the public), whether the space is privately owned or publically owned or a government managed space (and that last is what I think of when I think of commons - a government managed space that is open to anyone).


===Going Naked?===

Robert, you lost me regarding going naked in public, and restrictions discriminating against public nudists, and that restricting nudity being valid on private property. 


What about the other way around.  I want to protect myself from seeing old, unattractive people running around naked.  Maybe we can do that voluntarily - "I hereby swear and promise not to expose myself in public places if others will agree to do the same."  I think that the privacy of body and spirit that Korben refered to in his quote of Ayn Rand derives from her aesthetics and romantic view of life.  But it would also go to property.  My spirit (the revealing of) and my body (what I do with it) are mine by right and don't belong to others.  I'm incensed when my spirit is insulted or invited to get in the mud, so to speak, and I rebel at the thought of others telling me what I can or cannot do with my own body.  My body and my spirit are private to me and I like that to be so (I am a private kind of person, I like my privacy, etc.)

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