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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Some Thoughts on "Natural Rights"

At the post, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a commenter writes:
I have a hard time rejecting Natural Rights too. I see a clear distinction between positive rights and negative rights, the latter being within the ambit of Natural Rights and the latter, quite logically and rationally being outside that ambit. It's not hard to distinguish between positive and negative rights, and otherwise to discern that one employs force, coercion and slavery, and the other does not.
RW response: Even if we grant the questionable notion that there are two kinds of  good (negative) rights and bad (positive) rights, there still remains the question of how one deduces "good rights" exist as a part of nature absent human action.

It might be
very desirable to live in a world where most hold the view that coercion is not used against others who respect private property (See: #PPS) but to claim that this is some right laid down by nature is, as Henry Hazlitt stated, mystical.

And don't throw at me the Lockean claim that "we own ourselves" therefore we have a "right" to ourselves. It may be desirable that others don't mess with us but there is no logical step between "we own ourselves" and that somehow in nature we must be left alone.

The only legitimate logical way to get to the desirable situation where others leave us alone is to do it the way I describe inrights:  Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person that is by almost all of us recognizing that living in a civilized society with respect for private property is a great advantage to all of us.

It has nothing to do with nature granted good rights.

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At the post, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Perry Mason writes:
Natural law is an incredibly rich and deep tradition with insights that go back to Aquinas, Augustine, other Church fathers, and Aristotle. It's not all the same and is not easily dismissed, but at the end of the day, it's extremely intuitive much like the Non-Aggression Principle. 
 RW response: What does "incredibly rich tradition" mean in the context of truth and falsity? At one time there was an incredibly rich tradition of thinkers who thought that the earth was flat.

Leaning on "incredibly rich tradition" instead of logic suggests a commenter who doesn't understand how shifts in paradigms occur as discussed in Thomas Kuhn's important book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, where he outlines how "incredibly rich traditions" are destroyed.


Perry goes on:
There is, I am sure, much good material in your book, since implementing a free society most definitely follows contractarian grounds. But those contracting parties for fundamental rules are not choosing them based on a whim - they are chosen based on their deep-seated sense of objective morals. I don't think that this approach is a random / evolutionary affectation in mankind, whereby we believe in objective but really its all an illusion (which is unprovable anyway). Instead, it's probably there by design.
 RW response: Who said anything about a whim? In my book, I make clear that the desire to protect, one's life and property, appears to be near universal. It is not, though, about "objective" morals. It is about personal desires to survive and keep land and goods. The next important step thus follows, civilization, which is a trade-off where we agree not to club others, so they won't club us, as the best way to advance our own standard of living.

It has nothing to do with "design."  If one means by design something beyond man's essence (regardless of how that essence developed).

Also, there is a fundamental misunderstanding by Perry as to how I view #PPS, There are no necessary contractual rules in a  #PPS beyond "You leave me alone on my property and I will leave you alone on your property." A property owner can then set for his own property any rules ("contracts") he chooses.

3 comments:

  1. "And don't throw at me the Lockean claim that "we own ourselves" therefore we have a "right" to ourselves. It may be desirable that others don't mess with us but there is no logical step between "we own ourselves" and that somehow in nature we must be left alone."

    I guess it depends on your definition of "ownership." I have always thought of "ownership" as the owner's right to exclude someone from using the thing owned. That would be one reason why "self-ownership" means the right to be left alone; as a self-owner, you have the right to exclude anyone from using your body.

    If there is a different definition of "ownership" then let's hear it and argue from there.

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  2. Doesn't the PPS implicitly pre-suppose some rules for acquiring ownership? How can A and B agree to leave each other's property alone without first identifying who owns what? So how are these ownership rules derived?

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