About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread


Post 0

Tuesday, June 5 - 2:30pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
The main line: "Right exist by" might lead one to think that the right answer is the line item: "Consequence of defense and retribution" -- but the issue should be made more clear. There are the rights themselves, and then there is the perpetuation of societal respect for the rights. When folks defend them and also perform the proper function of justice -- i.e., measured retribution -- then the respect for rights is perpetuated. So, operationally, that's how rights continually "exist" in society. But this is a shallow form of "existence." It is an existential form.

In the genetic sense, the genesis of rights is man's nature.

So, the word "exist" has at least 2 senses or meanings. One is metaphysical and the other is existential. The metaphysical sense focuses on metaphysical realism -- that things are what they are, and that that matters. The existentialist sense focuses on a "will-to-power" -- rights "survive" only if we exercise our naked wills in order to fight the goblins of reality in order to keep them alive.

Ed




Post 1

Wednesday, July 25 - 1:30pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I voted "consequence of defense and retribution". I believe the concept of rights is a by product of the rule of law which evolves towards objectivity over time. We have no more "intrinsic" right to be left alone in a society of predators than we have an intrinsic "right" to not be eaten by a tiger in the jungle. The concept of "intrinsic" rights in my opinion causes far more problems than it solves. It makes people passive, it ignores the interdependence of members of society and the necessity to be involved to achieve societal values.



Post 2

Wednesday, July 25 - 5:37pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Mike,
I believe the concept of rights is a by product of the rule of law which evolves towards objectivity over time.  
Okay Mike, but I take it that you mean that ...

1) we didn't have rights when we were savage cavemen (that time in our history when there was no proactive, interdependent involvement in common goals and values)
2) we had a small amount of rights when we were caught up in the often-brutal, feudal system of medieval times (some interdependence, some common goals and values)
3) we had more rights when we declared independence from monarchical England
4) and that we could have even more rights if we formed a fully Objectivist society in a Colorado gulch or perhaps somewhere else

Though you didn't say it, do you agree with all of that? It seems to me to be quite a stretch to envision rights as these things getting "created" ex nihilo by some kind of social contract.
We have no more "intrinsic" right to be left alone in a society of predators than we have an intrinsic "right" to not be eaten by a tiger in the jungle. The concept of "intrinsic" rights in my opinion causes far more problems than it solves. It makes people passive ...
But what about the counter-argument that you were born with a right to self-defense? If you were, then you could rightly take up arms against predators, whether they are actual tigers in a jungle or a gang of human thugs who are threatening your life. The reason it'd be right for you to gun down such tigers and gangsters would be because you had a right to live in the first place.

However, if you have no moral right to live in the first place -- at least not until you have had the good fortune to have entered into a social contract with a certain minimal number of other humans -- then it doesn't look like it can be considered "right" to gun down the animals or people who are threatening your life. In this scenario, the only thing that could justify you acting in such strong self-defense is an existentialist "will-to-power." This might be the internal thought-process:
I don't have the right to live, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let someone take away my life. I will muster the will-power to meet all perceived threats with extreme prejudice, and I will take it upon myself to eradicate anyone who poses even the slightest risk to me.
Taken to the extreme, existentialism would result in a contest of wills where the strongest of wills would have both the might and the right to exterminate all weaker human beings. Weak people represent a risk to everyone. They require food, but cannot help to defend it. This places extra burden on the strong people, unless the strong turn against the weak. This is where existentialism -- that philosophy without rights that stem from a common human nature, but with a differential "will-to-live/will-to-power" -- leads.

What do you say about that line of reasoning?

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 7/25, 5:41pm)




Post 3

Wednesday, July 25 - 6:23pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Mike,

Here some issues that I see arising from your position. Let me know what you think.
  • 1. Without rights, there is no standard, external to the law, by which we could hold up any given law and judge it to be right or wrong in the absence of individual rights.
  • 2. In the absence of individual rights we would have nothing to use as a scale to measure when we had reached a state of minarchy.
  • 3. If there is no higher standard of conduct than the law, it would be hard to argue against any particular law, and laws, which are the product of government, and government would be in charge of what is right and wrong and good and evil, with no higher, outside standard to hold them to.
  • 4. Rights, to be technical, are not intrinsic in our nature. The rational capacity and volition are intrinsic to our nature. And from them, and other facts regarding our survival requirements, our rights must be epistemologically derived. I always say they ARISE from our nature. But to ARISE requires the exercise of our conscious faculty. Individual rights are moral principles and as such can't be said to be intrinsic to our nature.
  • 5. I believe they make very clear what we can do as interdependent members of society. We can join together for any purpose, termporary or permanent, in any kind of association - so long as is voluntary and involved no inititaion of force, threat of force, fraud, or theft. I think they make it the full range of desireable human interaction possible and without them, our ability to achieve social values would be artificially limited.
  • 6. Evolution arises from competition effecting relative rates of survival over time. For good laws to arise and 'reproduce' faster than bad law requires a recognition of a laws 'goodness' or 'badness' and that that seen difference to effect which laws became successful and which were abandoned. A uniform, rational standard for judging laws is a code of ethics - and for Objectivists, that part of the of code that deals with Individual rights. The alternative is for some popular cultural believe to hold sway and influence the creation of law - like Green Laws, Blue Laws, Jim Crow Laws, etc.
I would expect that this area of individual rights would be a difficult area to deal with because it is the bridge bewteen politics and ethics, but it is also dealing with foundational material in the philosophy of mind - bridging epistemology and metaphysics. It is also the area in which everyone who would advocate for a system other than minarchy will need to attack if they want to discredit that as a political answer. And todate it is the least defended, least taught of the key foundations that our freedom rests upon.

One of the trickiest parts is that conversion, where we must remember that our right becomes not a right to be safe from an attack. No, instead it becomes that others don't have the right to attack us in certain ways. This fashion in which comes to being at the sharp end of the stick, in which it becomes usable in the form as a negative is confusing. I have a right to my life, and by implication to my property, but this isn't important to me till it needs to be used to see where the actions of another are violating my rights.

I don't have a right to be safe from a thief (that would imply that I had a right to the time and effort of others would protect me), but I do have a right to resist, to defend and to retaliate against theft. This is because my right is really about what a theif can't do. My right to my property says that the thief can't use it without my okay. This doesn't work the same way with a tiger. My right to my property, like my arm, is the same as before I went into the jungle. No thief would have the right to take my arm. But it is neither right nor wrong as an ethical action for a tiger to attempt to eat my arm. Rights are only restrictive for those possessing human nature and only apply in a social consequence - but that is their function! I have the right to shoot the tiger, but the tiger lives in a world where his right and wrong actions are defined by his nature, not mine. There are objective answers to what is right and what is wrong for a tiger, but the tiger can't 'know' them since it doesn't know the way we do with our consciousnesses. It can't behave morally or immorally without having the capacity to choose, without which it can't form and grasp or act upon moral principles. It's right and wrong are set by evolution. The only laws it will answer to are those of science. It has almost no ability to form a set of social laws, not in the way we humans do. It cannot engage in the building of social organizations or pursuing much in the way of social goals... because it doesn't have the power of choice which would allow it to recognize rights and from them lay down laws.



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 4

Friday, July 27 - 7:46amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I always distinguish the rights that a Joan of Arc held while she was being burned alive at the stake by the local mob, to those she actually enjoyed.

One set existed even as the other set did not.

For me, 'exists' needs to be qualified in this poll question;

Exists at all in any form (merely held, as well as held+enjoyed) or effectively exist.

There are intellectually acknowledged rights.

There are politically acknowledged rights, defended by the local mob.

There are (labor leader)A. Philip Randolph's concept of achievable and defendable rights: "At Nature's Table, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take; you keep what you can hold."

He said that in the context of forming special interest mobs.

As crude as it sounds, it is only A. Philip Randolph's concept of rights that have always existed independent of intellectual or political authority to acknowledge them. And yet, such rights as he defines are no more permanent or eternal than either of the other two forms; they exist for as long as A. Philip Randolph's requirements hold. (And then, a more powerful mob kicks in the door.)

Intellectually and politically acknowledged rights are fluid, temporally fleeting things, constantly subject to change.

"God given", IMO, is political leg lifting. Who speaks for God?

In some odd way, all three of intellectual, political, and seized rights can be claimed to be 'God given.'

Does a man deserted on a desert island posses rights that exist? I guess he could. (Imagine a 'right to be searched for if lost.') But even that is a right that involves others actions or absence of actions.

But while in his natural circumstances, does he have a right to even the necessities of life? Provided by whom?

What are his God given/natural rights in that circumstance? They seem to be "Prevail, survive, or feed his carcass to the crabs; crabs have God given rights, too."

Of what use to that man in that circumstances at all are his rights?


Now place him on a crowded island, like Manhattan, and suddenly his need and use for rights -- as well as the inability to ultimately unilaterally realize them -- rears its mob based head.

regards,
Fred



Post 5

Saturday, July 28 - 10:26amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Fred,
There are (labor leader)A. Philip Randolph's concept of achievable and defendable rights: "At Nature's Table, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take; you keep what you can hold."

He said that in the context of forming special interest mobs.

As crude as it sounds, it is only A. Philip Randolph's concept of rights that have always existed independent of intellectual or political authority to acknowledge them. And yet, such rights as he defines are no more permanent or eternal than either of the other two forms; they exist for as long as A. Philip Randolph's requirements hold. (And then, a more powerful mob kicks in the door.)

Intellectually and politically acknowledged rights are fluid, temporally fleeting things, constantly subject to change.
This is just the kind of existentialism I was talking about. It involves operating in a universe of personal feelings. In order to make decisions, you never have to leave the comfort and guidance of your own heart. You are not just the center of the universe -- you are the universe. It's the philosophy of a 3-year-old (sorry Heidegger, Nietzsche, Rorty, and Singer!). Now, if you are going to be following-your-feelings like that, then you are going to bump up against others who are doing the same. They are following their feelings, you are following yours. When the clash comes, the contest of wills begins -- and ends with 'mountains of corpses and rivers of blood.'

By redefining rights merely as: things-successfully-defended, we lose our grip on reality and enter into subjectivism which inevitably leads to solipsism, which inevitably leads to death and destruction.

Ed




Post 6

Saturday, July 28 - 11:23amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ed:

Joan of Arc might have had the ethically and intellectually superior definition of rights, but she was stilled burned at the stake by the local mob.

The antidote to the universe as it is(ultimately ruled by force)is to try to ethically and intellectual fetter the biggest beast in the Jungle, the local tribe. That is not something that can be done unilaterally by wishes, or even, by superior intellectual and ethical argument.

It can only be attempted. To me, the acknowledgement that force ultimately rules is simply an acknowledgement of what is. It is not what should be, but that has no bearing on what can be. Force rules because it can; that is the only attribute -required- in order for it to rule; the rest are totally optional.

The attempts to intellectually and ethically fetter the use of force-- ultimately via wishes on paper -- is a kind of wishful thinking. But as soon as we leave that desert island solely inhabited by ourselves, it is all we have between us and the biggest slobbering beast in the jungle.

TJefferson recognized the cultural foundation necessary for that freedom, and that was the impetus for him building what he believed was the prototypical American culture public university, tasked with shoring up the cultural foundation of freedom

As well, smart, totalitarian leaning adversaries in the 20th century also recognized that, and that is why they included our universities as targets of deliberate attack, to undermine that required culture.

They partially succeeded, even as they themselves failed. What was left behind of that attack has transformed what was once an external threat to freedom into an internal threat to freedom. We haven't coughed up all the phlegm left over from the Cold War yet.

regards,
Fred



Post 7

Saturday, July 28 - 12:01pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Fred,
The antidote to the universe as it is(ultimately ruled by force)is to try to ethically and intellectual fetter the biggest beast in the Jungle, the local tribe.
Here is evidence that we are not of one mind -- as I disagree with you. In my mind's eye, the universe is not something that you ever need an antidote to (or for) --though I am in total, you might even say perfect, agreement with your characterization of the fundamental alternative that this country faced: The advent of 'Thomas Jefferson' (and all that that entailed), subsequently hampered by the 'enculturalization of evil' that was and is most thoroughly enacted by our universities.

You have the ideological history down-pat, but we differ subtly on interpretations and, therefore, more profoundly on how we evaluate the implications -- as a very subtle difference in interpretations multiplies into a much larger difference in evaluations.

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 7/28, 12:04pm)




Post 8

Saturday, July 28 - 1:39pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Ed:

I don't seriously think we are that far apart in our views.

For example, I don't really believe that you believe that the universe is a 100% universally benevolent place free of pits and sharp edges (not to be confused with a largely benevolent place, which I do believe; it is a perfectly wonderful, hospitable place...even as it yet is ultimately locally rule-able by force as one of its cold consequences.)

I don't think the universe has a dog in our hunt, in the sense of, must mankind survive, prevail, get it right, avoid all the rough edges (much less human constructs such as the USA.) It has cold, uncaring rules, it deals from the top of the deck, period. What we do is up to us, no skin off its nose. We can eat the crabs, or the crabs can eat us; as far as I can tell, there is nothing other than us and the crabs in this universe that cares one way or the other about which of those occur, though it is mostly us in that instance.

Perhaps I inartfully used the term 'antidote to the universe as it is.' In context I meant, to the consequences of the fact that force can rule because force can rule, period, with no other attribute necessary or required. Antidote to -that- cold, hard fact of the universe, as it is.

Not in total.

The universe is not all light and health; it is also darkness and disease. With some active thought, we actively seek one and actively avoid the other, even as success is not guaranteed in that seeking, but IMO, we do need to do that, and I'm sure you believe that as well.

One of the universes rules is risk; it is not ultimately repeal-able on any unilateral basis. We can manage it, we can analyze it, but we can't eliminate it. We can at most try to avoid it, minimize it, or shed it onto others, but it is a permanent fact of reality. We can't eliminate it.

Here is what I mean by that; human beings can do everything right in this universe, make all the right moves, and still lose. Human beings are not omnipotent beings in this universe. They are intelligent, and that is enough of a rigged hand. But we are still playing a game subject to risk. In that sense, the universe is not a rigged game, waiting for mankind simply to answer all the riddles correctly. We can answer all the riddles correctly...and still lose. That, too, is a characteristic of the universe. In that sense, the universe does not have any built in sense of human 'justice' no matter how defined(rule based or outcome based, those are purely manufactured by human kind.)

That boundary condition of the universe frightens some people, filling them with existential terror. Some of that drives our human politics.

For others, it's just the universe as it is. It's as good as it gets, and it is plenty good enough. It beats all the available alternatives.

Fortunately, risk is finite and largely manageable. But it is finite, not zero, in almost every human endeavor worth pursuing.

Including purely trivial things, like, going to a movie premier of Batman at midnight.

regards,
Fred



Post 9

Saturday, July 28 - 2:52pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

(Edited by Mike Erickson on 7/28, 11:06pm)




Post 10

Saturday, July 28 - 2:54pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Fred,
 ... the universe does not have any built in sense of human 'justice' no matter how defined(rule based or outcome based, those are purely manufactured by human kind.)
Indeed, Rand once said that if you pull back the scope of your focus all the way to the universe as a whole, then there is no such thing as justice on that scale -- there is only existence, and it can only be accepted without a potentially-arrogant moral evaluation. You don't get anywhere by saying:

"I would have written reality differently, if I were its author."

The only thing that that statement proves is an unearned, inauthentic, overblown sense of self-esteem/importance -- usually just a crude compensation for a self-perceived character deficiency. Anyway, more to the point, Rand -- in her interview with Johnny Carson -- said that America would not ever internally fall to communism. She admitted that she didn't know what kind and level of pain that the citizenry would have to go through in order to break the chains of collectivist politics, only that those chains would, eventually, be broken.

She based her statement on the kind of country this is -- a thing cannot act contrary to its nature, not completely or sustainably. I agree. I think that there are more than 100 million U.S. citizens who will not ever accept collectivism (about a third of the country who would fight to the death against it). I think the breakdown looks like this:

**************************
30% of Americans would "pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" to defend individualism (unwaveringly, and without any needed prompting or cajoling)

30% of Americans might also "pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" to defend individualism (if exposed to the correct moral reasoning on the matter)

20% of Americans might work to advance collectivism in the interim, but -- being lazy-minded and preferring not to engage in principled thought -- they would drop collectivism like a hot potato as soon as opposition to it is made evident

20% of Americans would remain recalcitrant collectivists, even in the face of superior reasoning and a mighty opposition
**************************

Now, if I am right about this, then it boils down to 20% of us trying to control 60% of us (with 20% of us sitting on the sidelines because they think it's too dangerous to pick sides). That's 3:1 odds in favor of individualism over collectivism. Now, if I were a gambler, I'd bet on individualism. There are a lot great fighters (soldiers, boxers, wrestlers, etc), but I've never heard of a fighter who could enter the ring and beat 3 opponents simultaneously.

Ed




Post 11

Saturday, July 28 - 3:19pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Mike,
The intrinsic view has many problems not the least of which it creates passivity and pacifism. It can also be used to justify any kind of rights, positive vs negative. Or animal rights or "natures" rights. ... "Intrinsic" rights impede and obscure the right to self defense by somehow equating the attacker and defender with equal value.
You are alluding to something I debated here before: the notion that rights, and the unfettered exercise of those rights, are one and the same. If you think that they are one and the same -- if you think that having a right to life makes capital punishment into a rights violation -- then you will be led to this anti-"intrinsic" (non-metaphysical) view of rights. But my reasoning doesn't require rights and their unfettered exercise to be one and the same thing. Under my reasoning, everyone can have these 'natural' rights, and we can still kill murderers. It's not murder to kill a murderer. It's (retaliatory) justice.

There is a difference between murder and justice.

So there isn't any equivalence ("equating attacker and defender") between predator and victim -- no reason for passivity or pacifism -- not when you think about rights in the manner in which I do. Also, this proper conception of rights precludes the justification of positive rights (rights to enslave others). Also, this proper conception of rights precludes the justification of animal rights, and even the so-called rights of nature (rights of even inanimate objects such as stones and trees).

If you equivocate between rights and their unfettered exercise, then your reasoning follows -- and even I would have to agree with you. But another option -- the one I like -- is to not equivocate in the first place. A right to life isn't -- never was -- a right to get away with murder. It is not something that morally protects you -- that prevents from being killed -- in all kinds of circumstances (including when you have criminally behaved).

Ed




Post to this thread
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.