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Rights: What they are and what they are not.

Posted by $ ObjectiveAnalyst 5 years, 1 month ago to Philosophy
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Rights: What they are and what they are not.

Rights are "unalienable". This means they exist irrespective of and precede government. They are part and parcel of your existence. In our founder's time Jefferson wrote of our unalienable rights in the Declaration of independence. Many in his time considered them to be endowed to us by God, while others by nature, but either belief acknowledged their preeminent existence. Very influential to the founders was Locke's position and first principles of rights to life, liberty and property. They all stem from the primary truth that human beings own themselves and that property rights are a logical extension of this right. No one, group, or government agency has superior right to the fruits of your labor.

Rights are universal and cannot be in conflict with the rights of others. That is the test of a true right.
They belong to all or they are not a natural right. Kings do not have more rights than others. Rights can be exercised by all without conflict. They can be exercised by all simultaneously without conflict.

If I claim a right such as a right to a job that imposes a duty on others to provide that job, it can't actually be a right. If I claim as a right, food stamps or welfare that must be paid for by someone else, that imposes a duty on others. It is not a right. It is in contradiction with others' rights since it makes them subservient and forces them to make their rights subject to mine. It is therefore, not a true right. If one must make themselves or others subordinate in any way, then it is not an exercise of a true right. If a duty is placed on anyone else in order to fulfill, or exercise an activity, it is not a right.

It is one's natural right to voluntarily trade one's goods and services, but it is not a right to demand that one do so or to take by force the goods or services of another. This is no less so if it is done by a third party in the name of government through the use or threat of force. Everyone can participate in free trade at their discretion and no interference or conflict can occur even if all wish to participate simultaneously. We can offer to purchase the product or service of others at any price we wish, but no one is obliged to accept. No positive action is required.
This test is easily applied to all circumstances. If a positive action is required of others it is not a right.

Today the progressives have turned the meaning of rights upside down. They believe in a positive view of rights that imposes duties on others. A right to healthcare, housing, internet, college, etc. is a positive view, of a larger philosophy of legal positivism which claims a right is not an independent natural right, but anything the government dictates. The Jeffersonian and traditional view is a negative view, since it only restrains others from action. It imposes no positive action on others. The restraint is only one of non-interference of the rights of others. This includes the prohibition of interference by government. This is why many statist progressives will not recognize the true nature of rights.

The truly greedy and selfish among us are those progressives that would deny the rights of others and make them subservient to their Utopian dreams built on legal positivism. If they achieve their goal of complete legal positivism, the elites among them might live in their utopia, but the majority of us would find ourselves living as serfs in a hell of their making.

Summary: A right is prior to government, an integral part of an individual (there are no group rights). A need or desire does not constitute a right if it must be provided at someone else's expense, or effort. You have a right to anything you can acquire or achieve so long as no one else is compelled to provide it or its materials and it does not interfere with the free exercise of the rights of others.

Respectfully,
O.A.


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  • Posted by Herb7734 5 years, 1 month ago
    In a nutshell: No government can GIVE you rights. Governments exist only to PROTECT your rights. You and only you have rights and they are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Please note, that none of these are GIVEN to you. They are for you to create for yourself. Please note also, that happiness is not guaranteed, but only the freedom to pursue it. Everything else without exception is to give others power over you because you allow "them" to give something to you instead of you earning it. Whenever you depend on others for sustenance they can control you by denying it. Aesop was right. Do Not Be The Grasshopper.
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  • Posted by dbhalling 5 years, 1 month ago
    Excellent Article OA.

    A couple of interesting related points. Technically if Natural Rights are endowed to us by god, then they are not "Natural" Rights they super-natural rights.

    We all have a right to health care in the US (technically everywhere) and the biggest offender of that right in the US is the FDA, which stops people from exercising their right to health care , by denying them access to certain drugs and treatment people want to purchase.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
      Hello dbhalling,
      Ah, yes, but those that believe in God given rights also believe God is "natural". I dare say, you and I feel very differently. :)

      Spot on: To be completely accurate and succinct, we all have a right to health care. We just have no right to demand others pay for it. And you are correct to point out that the government is the biggest offender standing in the way.

      Regards,
      O.A.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 5 years, 1 month ago
    The concept of "natural" rights (unfettered speech, self defense, property) was first proposed by the Roman philosopher, Cicero. He also declared it was the duty of the state to insure individuals' natural rights were protected. Of course he lived when the republic was at its peak of governing effectiveness, before the caesarian era.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
      Hello DrZarkoff99,
      Indeed. I do enjoy the writings of Cicero. There was a time when the Republic of Rome possessed some true statesmen and Cicero's story of acquiring stature and then being branded persona non grata and then returning for a short time to eminence, is a fascinating and enriching story. I also enjoyed reading of his exploration and purported finding of the grave of Archimedes. Too bad Mark Antony closed the book on Cicero's life in a most unhappy ending.
      Politics.. a most unsavory business, then and now.
      Regards,
      O.A.
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  • Posted by bucky44 5 years, 1 month ago
    O.A., whoever you are, very well written. The progressives have polluted the thinking of a good portion of the people in this country. They do not recognize natural or God given rights because it would take away their power of extolling the rights, in their mind, given from govt.

    Our govt. has grown exponentially due to the proliferation of these rights from govt. An effort has been underway for over three years by the Convention of States Project to limit the power and scope of the Federal Govt. They are using Article 5 of the Constitution to call for a convention of states to amend the Constitution in three areas. Power taken from the feds by limiting spending and taxation and giving the States power to abrogate laws and court decisions they deem unconstitutional or just plain wrong. Power to the States by giving them final say on Supreme Court Decisions and federal laws. Encouraging citizen legislators by term limiting legislators. Learn more at conventionofstates.com and sign the petition.
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  • Posted by RobertWeitman 5 years, 1 month ago
    Wouldn't this be a great daily digest to cure what ails progressives! Most of them don't understand the great gift of liberty that has been given or measure the cost to obtain it. With it comes a responsibility to live morally. The author's beautiful explaination of man's rights juxtaposed with the progressive sense of wants as rights leads to the question is progressivism the natural outgrowth of liberty or the childish attempt to get all you can in a free society? Is the Trump phenomenon the reasonable response...to use the tactics of progressives to beat them at their own game? If so, at what expense? Is it moral to use the tactics of the devil to beat him? "Does Satan cast out Satan?" What is the moral reasonable response to progressives? A law-abiding tact is the use the Constitution to fix the Constitution. It is legal. It is moral. Article V is a Consitutional process to Amend the Constitution to rebalance federal powers that have become tyrannically abused in a tug of war for power. The Constitution has been our foundation for 229 years and can continue to be if we use the tools our Founders/Framers gave us to adjust it. Go to http://www.conventionofstates.com to find out in detail what the COS Project is doing to call for a Convention of States. We The People need to take a stand during this Constitutional Crisis for liberty, for law and order, and for an end to tryranny. Please join us. Sign the petition at http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_i...
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  • Posted by roseys4 5 years, 1 month ago
    Good explanation...Just another reason we need an Article V Convention of States to open a conversation about this and other issues facing our nation. One by one our rights are being taken away by executive order, administrative acts & judicial overreach. The States created the Federal government and its now time to take the power back. Its time for an Article V Convention… it may be a long shot, but it also is our only shot to peaceably & constitutionally restore our Constitution and rule of law. Visit here to learn more, sign the petition, and sign up to volunteer: http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_i...
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  • Posted by fyerrick 5 years, 1 month ago
    These ideas were learned and applied by our Founding Fathers as they established a our Constitutional Republic. Our requirement is to become "Enlightened Citizens" who are able to maintain the Republic we were given. We at the Convention of States Project have faith in the Original Constitution and Article V. We invite you to join us at conventionofstates.com as we Self-educate and then Stand up, Speak up, and Show up. We thank you.
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  • Posted by strugatsky 5 years, 1 month ago
    This basic question should be asked of himself by every government employee that has the power to enact any law, legislation or take any administrative action is whether I have a moral and constitutional right to limit the action of another individual. If the answer is yes, this question needs to be asked by the citizens and the action allowed, or upheld, only in the case of an affirmative answer. This is not a guarantee of freedom's protection, but it would forestall much of the infringement.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
      Good morning strugatsky,
      Absolutely. Since it seems it never occurs to so many, I think it essential to introduce this information along with some basic epistemology to our youth during their primary education. I imagine it does happen in some private schools, but I would expect it to be a rare anomaly if it occurred in our public indoctrination centers...
      Respectfully,
      O.A.
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      • Posted by strugatsky 5 years, 1 month ago
        A couple of millennium ago, the rulers would be reminded by a slave that they were mortal. Unfortunately, we now have too many Little Caesars to allow the slaves to remind them of their mortal condition. One day, it will take a real Caesar to remind them.
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        • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
          Spartacus! From the series: "Let us teach them, that all who draw breath are of equal worth... And those who seek to place heal upon the throat of liberty will fall with the cry of freedom!"
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  • Posted by $ Snezzy 5 years, 1 month ago
    Whence come our rights? Are they provided by the Constitution? Would they not exist without it?

    Here is a brief article I wrote elsewhere about a year ago:

    Frequently we encounter a discussion of the "living Constitution." This phrase sets up a false alternative:

    1. An old, "Dead" Constitution, versus ...
    2. A "Living, Breathing" Constitution.

    Based on the emotional response of "living" in comparison to "dead" one is supposed to choose the living version, and thus permit (either inadvertently or deliberately) the kind of arbitrary government that the Constitution was intended to prevent.

    A somewhat more rational approach is "strict construction" versus "loose construction," in which we are either to read the words as written, or are to guess the intent of those who wrote the words.

    In my opinion the best approach is to read the Federalist Papers, so as to come to an understanding of the purpose of the document, and not be led astray by those seeking to wrest control of the Federal Government for some immoral purpose. Key ideas include (1) the determination to form a government of laws, not of men, (2) equality of citizens (no class of nobility or establishment of religion) and (3) the right to own property.

    Property ownership is a crucial test for those who would change the Constitution, because all manner of schemes for taking property in the name of some "public good" arise in any government. Personally I like the viewpoint that, "If you cannot OWN property then you ARE property." One might consider writing an essay on the history of the right of ownership of property. All constitutions ever constructed have had to address that question, and so has religious scripture as well. The question of property always includes the difficult matter of whether people can be property.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
      Hello Snezzy,
      Thank you for your contribution. I concur about the Federalist papers and I would add, read the Anti-federalist and the Constitutional Convention Debates. Once done there is little doubt as to the true intentions and meaning. I do believe it was short sighted to change the originally contemplated words Life, liberty, and Property to, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence. Of course, I understand the reasoning behind it and the arguments made at the time regarding slaves as property and the implications. However the Constitution followed the same example and also suffered. Today (post abolition) a more prominent protection and emphasis on property would perhaps serve us better.
      Respectfully,
      O.A.
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  • Posted by RimCountry 5 years, 1 month ago
    It's been awhile, OA... I hate to say it, but we seem, as a nation, to have forgotten the meaning of and the reason for "limited government."

    I never believed that I would live long enough to see the President of the United States either direct or look the other way while corrupt appointees in his administration use their bureaucratic authority to steal an election.

    It's time to once and for all reduce the size, scope and jurisdiction of our over-reaching federal government, and the ONLY way to accomplish that is by constitutional amendment. Article V of the Constitution gives STATES the power to propose amendments to the Constitution whenever 2/3 of the states decide that Congress has failed to act.

    In an age when the President of the United States touts the power to use executive orders in contravention of the other branches of government, to kill Americans with drone strikes, and to meddle in the relationships between doctors and patients and mandate that individuals purchase health insurance or pay penalties...

    When he increases the national debt higher than the total sum of the debt incurred in the first 227 years of our existence; when the NSA spies on citizens using mass surveillance technology; when the Federal Communications Commission seeks to control websites that are "too conservative" and determine what stories newsrooms may run...

    when the IRS targets particular groups because of their political beliefs; when the Department of Defense indoctrinates soldiers to accept that people who extol the virtues of the Founding Fathers, or who believe in the fundamental teachings of biblical Christianity, are extremists and potential terrorists...

    when the Department of Housing and Urban development can take private property and re-develop that land to the benefit of the "winners" as identified by the government…

    when the department of Justice can order an American multinational technology company to scan tens of millions of private eMail message searching for a list of specific "keywords," while using national security as justification…

    when the Department of Education orders schools to allow students to use restrooms irrespective of their biological gender; when the Supreme Court invents doctrines that subvert the very Constitution from which they derive their authority...

    when, in short, the federal government has run amuck, is it not time to at least try an Article V convention?

    All things considered, doesn't all of this suggest to you that it's more dangerous NOT to attempt an Article V convention?

    As someone recently rather famously asked, "What the hell have you got to lose?"

    Be informed. Sign the petition. Get involved. http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_i...
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  • Posted by Specs 5 years, 1 month ago
    This can easily relate to the exceptionalism of Ameica. America is exceptional in the respect that we are the first national government in human history that recognizes and constitutionally acknowledges these rights and supposedly protects them. I am now thinking that we are now exceptional in regards to how our federal government blatantly attacks these rights and violates them consistently with social welfare and entitlements [a liberal word improperly used]. These tactics can be reversed by reverting back to the original constitution and following the authority of Article V which provides a method for the States to regain their sovereign powers to handle their own citizenry.
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  • Posted by lrshultis 5 years, 1 month ago
    Rights define the role of government as a negative feedback on individual action. No governor physical or political should do any more than limit the action of a machine or an individual, thus defining the freedom of action with respect to destruction of the machine or other humans. The governance of the action involved in a right is to stop it from forcing others in their equal action with respect to the right. That governance is usually done by the individual actor and is done by others when they become involved without consent in the action.

    Please do not do the straw man progressives, positivism, etc. stuff when everyone can violate rights and probably do so due to not having full knowledge of the minds of others. Those just give someone something to blame rather than just focusing on ones own life related to other lives.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
      Hello Irshultis,
      I am in general agreement with your first paragraph.
      I beg to differ on your second. It is not my intention to offer an outlet for blame, but I maintain and wish to point out a philosophy that is anathema to the true nature of rights. It is not a straw man to point out a prevalent ideology that is undermining proper philosophy in this regard. It would be a straw man if I had claimed that they alone were the only parties violating rights. I did not say so. You are reading into my words more than I have stated, or intended.
      Respectfully,
      O.A.
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  • Posted by tdechaine 5 years, 1 month ago
    "Rights" as a moral concept necessarily "precedes government."
    And the fact that rights only apply to actions, not to material goods/services, makes it easy to distinguish a true right from a "politically correct" assumed one.
    They only apply to humans because only humans require the rational choosing of actions to sustain our lives.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
      Hello tdechaine,
      Strange how simple it actually is if people give due consideration. Unfortunately philosophy, logical thought, introspection and common sense seem to be rare ocurences among the sheople. I suspect most never even consider their own place in the world their philosophy... almost everyone I speak with outside of this forum require explanation of the terms metaphysics and epistemology... We need more emphasis early in life on philosophy, even in its most basic meaning of how one understands the world around them and how to check their premises.
      Respectfully,
      O.A.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 1 month ago
    I agree with this completely, but I have a philosophical question. People have a right to property and free speech. It takes work on someone's part to enforce the rights. Suppose someone says people have a human right to whiteboards and unlimited dry erase markers for personal use. I tell him, "You can't have a right to make someone else make you something." The right-to-dry-erase-markers advocate says, "But you have the right to free speech. That takes policing of some sort to prevent gangs from intimidating people who want to speak. Protecting your right to free speech requires someone to provide policing just as protecting my right to dry erase markers requires someone to run a marker factory and distribution chain."

    I know people have a right to free speech, property, their own lives, etc, and that they do not have a right to dry erase markers, healthcare, food, etc. I'm less clear on the philosophical basis.
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    • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
      Hello CircuitGuy,

      Check out these comments and links:

      "Perhaps the most central concept in Locke's political philosophy is his theory of natural law and natural rights. The natural law concept existed long before Locke as a way of expressing the idea that there were certain moral truths that applied to all people, regardless of the particular place where they lived or the agreements they had made. The most important early contrast was between laws that were by nature, and thus generally applicable, and those that were conventional and operated only in those places where the particular convention had been established. This distinction is sometimes formulated as the difference between natural law and positive law...."
      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/loc...

      "A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

      The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

      Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.

      The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.

      Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values." http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/ind...

      Respectfully,
      O.A.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 1 month ago
        Is it true that humans have a right to their own life but not a right to have that right enforced? In this way of thinking, policing is a good policy because it helps protect people's right to life, but not in itself a right.
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        • Posted by $ 5 years, 1 month ago
          According to the supreme court, Police have no responsibility or liability when it comes to protecting others. They are only there to clean up afterwards and bring the offenders to justice. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/new...
          Correct. Policy and privilege are not a right, but they are a benefit of civil society. Even though the police are not obliged to protect they still act as a deterrent.
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    • Posted by $ blarman 5 years, 1 month ago
      Rights always come with two responsibilities: the responsibility of proper use and the responsibility to uphold others' right to the same right one claims for himself. I would argue that philosophically, if one expects to claim a right he also should expect to champion others' similar expressions of that same right. The police power is inherent in each of us just as a right is inherent in each of us. Just because we may delegate the overt protection of rights to government and law enforcement doesn't lessen or abrogate that retained responsibility within ourselves.
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