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Thu Aug 22, 2013, 02:55 PM

Do rights exist?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights

Rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.


I see rights as attributes of people. Others see them as conventions or social inventions.


Your thoughts please.

52 replies, 10868 views

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Arrow 52 replies Author Time Post
Reply Do rights exist? (Original post)
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 OP
ZombieHorde Aug 2013 #1
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #3
ZombieHorde Aug 2013 #5
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #6
ZombieHorde Aug 2013 #13
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #14
ZombieHorde Aug 2013 #15
delrem Nov 2013 #22
Sweeney Nov 2014 #29
delrem Nov 2014 #31
Sweeney Nov 2014 #32
rrneck Aug 2013 #2
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #4
rrneck Aug 2013 #7
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #10
rrneck Aug 2013 #11
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #12
Fortinbras Armstrong Aug 2013 #8
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #9
Sweeney Nov 2014 #30
Fortinbras Armstrong Nov 2014 #33
Sweeney Nov 2014 #35
Fortinbras Armstrong Nov 2014 #36
Sweeney Dec 2014 #37
Fortinbras Armstrong Dec 2014 #38
Sweeney Dec 2014 #39
Fortinbras Armstrong Dec 2014 #40
Sweeney Dec 2014 #41
Fortinbras Armstrong Dec 2014 #42
Sweeney Dec 2014 #43
Fortinbras Armstrong Dec 2014 #44
Sweeney Dec 2014 #45
Fortinbras Armstrong Dec 2014 #46
Sweeney Dec 2014 #47
Fortinbras Armstrong Dec 2014 #48
Sweeney Dec 2014 #49
Tuesday Afternoon Aug 2013 #16
discntnt_irny_srcsm Aug 2013 #17
delrem Sep 2013 #18
discntnt_irny_srcsm Sep 2013 #19
delrem Nov 2013 #20
discntnt_irny_srcsm Nov 2013 #21
delrem Nov 2013 #23
Sweeney Nov 2014 #27
Sweeney Nov 2014 #34
CloptonHavers Feb 2014 #24
discntnt_irny_srcsm Feb 2014 #25
Sweeney Nov 2014 #28
Sweeney Nov 2014 #26
PavelKO Oct 2016 #50
discntnt_irny_srcsm Oct 2016 #51
Name removed May 2017 #52

Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 03:03 PM

1. Rights, organizations (including governments), human laws,

countries, etc., are all imaginary. The people and geographical locations are real, but these other things are projected onto them. Rocks, stars, gravity, etc., will exist whether we perceive them or not, but rights can only be projected onto other collections of atoms from our imaginations.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 03:16 PM

3. Can I infer...

...that, in your system, laws, fairness, love and anger are also imaginary?

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 06:13 PM

5. Yes for laws and fairness, but no for love and anger. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 06:20 PM

6. I'm unable to understand what system you have...

...for deciding. What would you say about someone who loves the law but is often angered by lawyers.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #6)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 09:26 PM

13. Ha!

Laws, rights, governments, etc., are created by language. They exist the same way Harry Potter exists, except people much more likely to be moved to action by laws, etc.

Love and anger are emotions. Emotions are subjective, but their existence is objective, and can be proven by science.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #13)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 09:35 PM

14. So then...

...if rights are imaginary, do they exist?

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #14)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 11:11 PM

15. I don't think so. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 14, 2013, 03:31 AM

22. I don't think so.

Human Rights (I capitalize the idea) are only projected on the actions of humans.

Newton didn't deal with human rights. Newton only dealt with the innate characteristics of matter that was by definition inert without force determining transformations.
For example, suppose you're on an excursion and confront a baboon, in the baboon's territory. Newton's laws won't help you.

The notion of "universal human rights" is projected only on humans.
It's the most basic notion of the enlightenment.

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Response to delrem (Reply #22)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #29)

Sun Nov 30, 2014, 01:01 AM

31. Your subject line isn't true. bye.

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Response to delrem (Reply #31)


Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 03:07 PM

2. Rights are attributes of people.

Humans have the ability to respond to their environment and to the dictates of their conscience. Given the ability to respond individually, the right to do so must be assumed.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 03:35 PM

4. I'm having a bit of confusion...

...over the use of "assumed". Could you please rephrase?

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 22, 2013, 06:31 PM

7. I would rephrase if I could think of a better way to say it.

I think I would have to assume a right, since I cannot confer it nor prove it exists beyond the evidence given when someone exercises it. For me, and not having given the matter much thought before now, a right is not a social convention or law, but the expression of one's own being. Birds fly, fish swim, and people do whatever it is that people do. Rights do not exist unless they are exercised, and the social conventions that surround them are the result of that exercise.

Rights are attached to actions, and the expectation of action exists in the future.

I don't know if that makes any sense, since I just made it up. The implications lead us to all sorts and kinds of notions regarding a priori goodness and what it means to have certain rights to be one sort of person and not another. But maybe, as we do whatever it is that we do and build social conventions around those actions, the relationship between what we want, what we do, and what we discover doesn't work and declare the wrong thing to do revolve around our relationship between our inner and outer lives. That kind of thinking sorts well with my concepts of form and content in the human experience.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #7)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 11:37 AM

10. I guess I'm having some trouble with this:

"Rights do not exist unless they are exercised..."

Trees fall and make a sound even if no one hears.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #10)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 12:05 PM

11. Natural and legal rights

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_and_legal_rights
The existence of natural rights has been asserted by different individuals on different premises, such as a priori philosophical reasoning or religious principles. For example, Immanuel Kant claimed to derive natural rights through reason alone. The Declaration of Independence, meanwhile, is based upon the "self-evident" truth that "all men are ... endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights".


I think a natural right, or "unalienable right", is the right to be whoever you are. Such a position leads to the question of the nature of being, which for me entails projection into the future. Ideas are useless unless they are put into action, even if the result of a thought is another thought. Inanimate objects exist, living organisms become.

Legal rights keep you from being a dick.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #11)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 03:19 PM

12. I'm good with that.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 07:18 AM

8. I'd say it depends very much on which school of ethics you subscribe to.

Ethical systems are similar to mathematical systems: Both are based on axioms -- statements considered to be true for which no proof is given. You start with a belief, "The greatest good for the greatest number" or the Stoic view that the greatest good is contentment and serenity or the ancient Chinese view which bases the moral worth of an act on how it contributes to the social harmony of the state and so on; you then see how you can develop an ethical system from it.

Some time ago, I was having an argument with a follower of Nietzsche, who was claiming that all ethical systems were "lies". I suggested that Aleister Crowley's "Do what you wilt is the whole of the law" is the logical consequence of such an attitude. If you reject all existing ethical systems, you must replace them with something. If you don't, you are left with nihilism as a default. Nietzsche called for a mythical Übermensch to make everything well; since he said that God was a myth, he was simply replacing one myth with another. In other words, he replaced ethics with nothing, so everything is morally acceptable.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #8)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 11:32 AM

9. I'd suggest that...

...any respectful system (ethics, law, government...) must make possible the formulation, inference and/or determination of rights which, of necessity, must be considered native to the individual.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #8)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #30)

Sun Nov 30, 2014, 10:04 AM

33. "Whether you know it or not, among the French and Germans, right means law."

That is the ideal, even among the French and the Germans (and among some other people as well -- I am familiar with the concept). And whether you know it or not, the correct spelling of the man you refer to name is "Abelard". In his Collationes ("Comparisons", he wrote

So far as justice is concerned, it is not just the bounds of natural justice but also those of positive justice that ought not to be crossed. One sort of law is called "natural," the other "positive." Natural law is what the reason naturally innate in all people urges should be put into effect, and therefore remains the same among all people: such as, to worship God, to love one's parents, to punish the wicked, and to do whatever is necessary in the sense that without them no other merits whatever will be sufficient.

To positive justice, however, belongs what is set up by humans so as to preserve usefulness and worth more safely and increase them. It rests either on custom alone or on written authority. An example of positive justice is provided by the sort of punishments given in retribution and the procedures of judges in examining accusations which have been made. Among some, there is trial by combat or hot irons are used, among others an oath that, when we have to live among whoever it may be, we hold the laws they have set up (as I mentioned) just as we hold the natural laws.

The laws which you called divine--the Old Testament and the New Testament--also pass down some commands which are, as it were, natural (you call them "moral commands", such as to love God and your neighbor, not to commit adultery, not to steal, and some commands which belong, as it were, to positive justice. These commands apply to certain people at a certain time, like circumcision for the Jews and baptism for you and many other commands which you describe as "figural." Moreover, the Roman pontiffs and church councils issue new decrees every day or dispense various indulgences, according to which, you say, what used to be lawful becomes illicit and vice versa--as if God put it in their power to make things good or evil which were not previously be their decrees and indulgences, and their authority could pass judgment on the law of nature.


(Believe it or else, I happen to know the medieval theologians fairly well, especially Aquinas) Abelard clearly distinguishes between natural law (or natural rights) and positive law (or positive rights). The other distinction is that between malum prohibitum and malum in se. Though he does not use those terms, he clearly recognizes that the positive law can make things once lawful, illicit, and make things once unlawful, licit. Abelard hints at the possibility of abuse: that the human authority may pass positive law that is not in line with the natural law.

We can understand how morals work and never create a moral person through reason. You keep saying that, without the slightest attempt to support it. It is, however, nothing more than your opinion. As I said in the other thread, I KNOW that, in my case at least, one can make a person more moral through reason. I suppose that one could not take an entirely amoral person and make him or her into a wholly moral person through reason, although one could certainly teach such a person enough that he or she could fake it convincingly.

Now try to realize, that in its natural state, morality only referrers to the relationship to ones own society and people. Where does this flight of fancy come from?. First, "ethics" comes from the Greek ἦθος ("ethos", which means "custom, habit". "Ethnic" from ἐθνικός ("ethnikos", which translates fairly well as "people". Two completely different words. Second, as C. S. Lewis remarks somewhere, if you believe that all moral codes are different, you should be locked up in a room with all the various codes, and you will quickly be bored with how basically the same they are.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #33)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #35)

Sun Nov 30, 2014, 06:40 PM

36. For at least the second time, THE PARAGRAPH IS YOUR FRIEND.

When you come to the end of a pargraph, hit the return key TWICE (ie, 2 times). This will give you a blank line between your paragraphs, and make your posts easier to read. And if you are quoting Durant, then quotation marks would make it clear to the reader which statements are your and which are Durant's. One piece of advice that my freshman composition instructor gave is germane: "If you make something difficult to read, people will not read it." Incidentally, you say that I appear to be educated. Among other degrees, I have a masters in History of Religion from Harvard.

You keep saying, but do not back it up in any way, that reason cannot make a person moral. First, this is a vague statement. Do you mean that a completely amoral person could be turned into a moral person through the use of reason? Or do you mean that a person whose morals need, shall I say, improving, cannot gain such an improvement through reason? These are two quite different sets of circumstances, and I do not know which one you mean.

I believe that your statement in the first instance is at least arguable, although if the amoral person believed that amorality was not proper, then perhaps it might work. The second instance describes me, and I can tell you, from my own personal experience, that morals can be improved through reason. Of course, keep in mind the old joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change. I wanted to improve my morals, which I saw as deficient, and through study and thought, I have done so.

Your latest seems to be all over the map. I suggest that you narrow what you want to write about, and stick to that.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #36)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #37)

Mon Dec 1, 2014, 10:13 AM

38. OK, I shall introduce myself to you.

First, I direct you to http://www.democraticunderground.com/1221658 in which I talk about my specifically religious education and touch on my experience of the Vietnam War. Then, as I said in a couple of my previous posts in this thread, I have Asperger's Syndrome -- see http://www.democraticunderground.com/1018637313#post37 for some of my comments on that.

I would remind you that you did not answer my question about what exactly you mean by reasoning to morality does not make one moral. Please do so.

One thing we have not gone into the question: What is morality? I mean morality as it is contrasted with the non-moral, not as it is opposed to the immoral. I do not ask, say, whether lying to a friend in a certain situation is moral or immoral, but asks what makes something, for instance lying to a friend, a moral problem. Allied to the same question is: What counts as a moral consideration? What makes a motivation moral as opposed to prudential. Basically, it about the boundaries of morality. I am just throwing this out and hope you will respond.

One quick comment on honor, and then I have to run. In Lois McMaster Bujold's novel, A Civil Campaign, Count Vorkosigan speaks of the difference between honor and reputation. "Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself. ... There is no more hollow feeling than to stand with your honor shattered at your feet while soaring public reputation wraps you in rewards. That's soul-destroying. The other way round is merely very, very irritating. ... Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards."

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #38)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #39)

Tue Dec 2, 2014, 08:44 AM

40. I'm afraid I have some major disagreements with you.

First, morality certainly can be defined. Morality (from the Latin moralitas -- "manner, character, proper behavior" is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and acts between those that are "good" (or "right" and those that are "bad" (or "wrong". All ethicists would agree on some variant of that definition.

The arguments come over which acts are good and which are not. As I said in a previous post, moral systems, like mathematical systems, are axiomatic. An axiom is a statement which is assumed to be true, for which no proof is given. I gave some examples (there are others):

• "The greatest good for the greatest number"

• The Stoic view that the greatest good is contentment and serenity

• The Confucian idea that good acts contribute to social harmony

• Nietzsche's view of that which benefits the Übermensch is good, that which harms him is bad

• The Catholic view that good acts "serve man and help individuals as well as groups to affirm and develop the dignity proper to them" (Vatican II's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, section 9)
This is the one I, personally, subscribe to.

Given your favored axiom, you then use reason to see how you can develop an ethical system from it. Acts are good if they further what you deem as your moral view, bad if they hinder it. Thus, one certainly can reason one's way to morality. In fact, I have done so.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #40)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #41)

Wed Dec 3, 2014, 06:42 AM

42. "I'm afraid that I ..."

Is what we call an idiom. It does not indicate actual fear on the part of the speaker. Also, in the link to my potted biography I gave previously, I say that I am a member of what the late Bill Mauldin called, "the Benevolent and Protective Brotherhood of Them What Has Been Shot At". Speaking as a member of the brotherhood, I can say that there is probably something wrong with someone who does not feel at least some fear in combat. (The second combat experience is probably more fearful than the first, interestingly enough.)

You now seem to be somehow equating morality with sacrifice. Yet if I forbear to rape a woman, that is acting morally, but certainly involves no sacrifice.

I want to discuss the place of reason in ethics. You seem to want to talk about everything else.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #42)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #43)

Thu Dec 4, 2014, 07:58 AM

44. I used an idiom that I'm sure you've heard at least a thousand times

Saying "I'm afraid that I must disagree with you" is not "cant", it is merely expressing disagreement while not being nasty about it. It is far more polite than something on the lines of "Your reasoning sucks". If you would prefer "I think you're full of shit", I can certainly oblige you, although I don't see how that would aid the conversation in any way. I prefer civility, and if you don't, you can kiss my arse.

Now, can we discuss your crap idea that reasoning in ethics makes you immoral?

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #44)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #45)

Fri Dec 5, 2014, 06:17 AM

46. Being polite is not cant, nor is it being dishonest.

It is being polite. I am fully capable of rudeness, as my previous post should make obvious, but I generally prefer not to.

Oh, and I am quite familiar with telling the truth. In another thread, I wrote at some length on Augustine of Hippo's views on lying. Basically, he sees lying as being untrue to the person you are speaking to, a view I accept. By that standard, politeness is not lying. Answering "Yes" to "I really like the way my new stylist did my hair. Do you like it?" is not a lie, no matter what your actual opinion may be.

Augustine himself gives a specific example from his own experience: A man and his son were both severely injured when a cart they were riding in overturned. The two of them were taken to different houses where they were treated. The son died. His father, who was obviously also dying, asked Augustine if his son was still alive. Augustine assured him that the son was still alive, even though he knew that the son was already dead, but he felt that telling this untruth was more merciful than telling him the truth. Thus, he was not being untrue to the man when he said something which was not actually true.

And in post #14, you write "Reason does not get you to moral, but immoral." Now, if that means something other than "reason does not make people moral", I'd like to know what it does mean.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #46)


Response to Sweeney (Reply #47)

Sat Dec 6, 2014, 02:49 AM

48. I think I see our basic problem

You say that morality is based upon emotion. No, while it is apparently innate, it is quite rational. Children are not moral before they are rational. Young children want to have their desires satisfied immediately, and older children and adults who act that way are considered childish. We learn that it is right to share, to put off immediate gratification for longer term goals, and that we are not the center of the universe. We learn and we think. People DO think about their morals, and we consider what actions are or are not moral depending on our training and our thoughts. Morality IS rational. Certainly, rationalism forms a major part of my moral system.

I think we are done.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #48)


Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)


Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Reply #16)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 07:45 AM

17. I believe that the obligation...

...to recognize and respect others operates as an aspect of the rights we all share. Recognizing that all people deserve respect even if no one else is around is the human thing to do.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sat Sep 21, 2013, 10:42 PM

18. Don't human rights have to be recognized and asserted to exist?

Consider an important example: the right for an individual to be treated equally under the rule of law. That seems to imply that the state has an obligation to enforce the law on all citizens equally, regardless of wealth, station, ....., and vice-versa.

But that defines a certain ideal community structure and organization, something to be striven for, so in that sense human rights are product of reason and not "natural", e.g. like an apple is a natural thing.

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Response to delrem (Reply #18)

Sun Sep 22, 2013, 10:57 AM

19. re: "...the right for an individual to be treated equally under the rule of law."

Since the government (a creation of individuals) is the source of law and is responsible for its interpretation and enforcement, this operates more as a duty of government.

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."


Rights as described in the Declaration:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


The Bill of Rights: < http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html > names certain rights and, also, places restrictions on government. Those restrictions minimize the level of interference which one need tolerate from government. Rights, in general, name actions which an individual can take and feel lawful and righteous in so doing. These possible actions cover the scope of liberty.

I believe rights exist as attributes of humanity. Failing to respect others rights is often a crime. Not respecting someone's right to life and perpetrating an unprovoked assault resulting in death may result in a murder conviction.

IMHO, prior to certain social and legal victories, the rights of African Americans, Women, Native Americans, various LGBT persons... existed but were denied and/or not respected. The fact that it became illegal or unpopular to do so didn't create those rights.

thanks for your thoughts

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #19)

Mon Nov 11, 2013, 12:49 AM

20. Correct. It's an *obligation* of gov't.

But why?
Myself, I think it's an obligation of pure reason. No other condition is consistent with universality. Yes, that's almost tautological -- but not quite. It's tautological if and only if a moral/ethical order is desired, as opposed to war.

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Response to delrem (Reply #20)

Mon Nov 11, 2013, 02:39 PM

21. War is uncivilized

This says it all for me.

"...That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #21)

Thu Nov 14, 2013, 03:46 AM

23. I really appreciate DU. n/t

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Reply #21)


Response to delrem (Reply #18)


Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Sun Feb 16, 2014, 10:09 PM

24. Do rights exist?

Historically, there are three foundations attributed to rights: god, nature, and humans.

For god to be the ground for rights, god has to exist, whoever is asserting that god is the ground of rights has to know who god is, and what he/she/it wants. If you think that you know these things, you can attribute rights to god; if not, not. However, you might have to dispute your conclusions with those who have other ideas about god.

For nature to be ground of rights, the person asserting it has to meet Hume's challenge to show how, logically, an "ought" statement can be derived from an "is" statement. If you can meet Hume's challenge, you can attribute rights to nature; if not, not.

For humans to be the ground of rights, there isn't an epistemological problem or a logical problem. Whatever folks say is right, is right. Different folks at different times and places say that different things are right. This certainly is in accord with everyday and historical experience. The problem with making humans the ground of rights, is that rights lose the universality that is usually associated with them.

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Response to CloptonHavers (Reply #24)

Tue Feb 18, 2014, 08:17 AM

25. After some reading...

...I understand what you saying though I'm not sure where you're going with that.
Are you a believer in individual human rights and, if so, what are they?

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Response to CloptonHavers (Reply #24)


Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)


Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

Wed Oct 26, 2016, 07:48 PM

50. Rights are Subordinated to...

 

There is but one law and all the other are derived from it and subordinated to it at the same time: THE LAW OF THE STRONGER

It also decides all the human rights.

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Response to PavelKO (Reply #50)

Thu Oct 27, 2016, 11:57 AM

51. As is generally said, 'The winners get to write history.'

It is my opinion that an objective moral compass exists and that there is a subset of behaviors which ought to protected. Many efforts have been made to condense, articulate and codify those. The US Bill of Rights is one such effort.

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Response to discntnt_irny_srcsm (Original post)

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