News:

For returning members: As Asmodean noted, when he repaired the site after a recent downtime "the local avatars got nuked." If you need any assistance with getting your avatar back, please post in the Ask HAF board.

Main Menu

Rights. Inalienable or human ego?

Started by Tank, September 01, 2016, 08:26:37 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Tank

Another member wrote this:-

"One of the things I am interested in here is his stance on rights ... might as well get this out in the open, I don't believe in rights, certainly not innate ones.  I believe that rights are something that have to be granted by others and as such I believe in responsibilities before rights i.e. that I have the responsibility to allow others the freedom of speech and (en masse) that grants each of us the collective right to freedom of speech."

I basically support the view that 'rights' as such do not exist, they are something humans have created in an attempt to codify what could be considered generally acceptable behaviour.

So are 'rights' inalienable or just humanity's wish list for the way things we want them to be?
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
"Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt." ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Recusant

Inherent? Perhaps. Existing in some genuinely objective sense? Extremely unlikely. Below is an argument supporting the concept of inherent human rights.

I'll begin by stipulating that I do not think that human rights exist in a purely objective sense. They aren't written in the stars, and the likelihood of deity who might have established them appears to be extremely remote. Given that, I think that they do exist in the context of human society, and my argument should be understood as applying to humanity as a species, rather than as an attempt to equate human rights to anything like the laws of physics.

Any time people live in groups (which is nearly always, given the fact that we are a social species), by necessity there must be some arrangement to facilitate the interactions of the members of the group--at least a minimal agreement on some sort of bylaws, even if they're not written down. Also there must be some acknowledgement of what, for lack of a better word, I will call rights. The right to be a member of the group, the right to share in the resources the group uses and acquires, and so on. That isn't to say that rights, in any particular group of people, are inviolable, but I think that they have to exist, otherwise it doesn't seem it would be possible for people to live in groups.

Human beings are capable of reason, and are also a social species. There is no biological basis for an inherent scale of worth, whereby any particular human being is due more respect than other human beings. Therefore we either all inherently have human rights, or we all don't have any inherent rights. To exist as a reasoning, social species, we must be able to recognize one another as having worth due to being a fellow human being, and not mere means to an end. That is, if we treat other human beings as having zero worth, we will tend to act in ways that in the long run are destructive to our species. Not only that, but we will establish a precedent whereby other human beings might treat us as having zero worth.

To exist as a rational social species I think we also must recognize the reciprocal nature of human interaction: We as individuals want to be treated with dignity, and therefore we should treat others with dignity, and want our society to treat individuals with dignity, though that desire may not extend beyond the limits of our own society. At this point in the history of our species, however, rational people realize that a purely provincial understanding of human rights is counterproductive to our survival. Our rational self interest, both as individuals and as a species, dictates that we recognize that other people have worth. Rationally, we also will recognize that we must be able to coexist, or in the long run we will cease to exist as a species. In the absence of a recognition of inherent worth, we will tend to act in ways that are destructive of society, and eventually of the species itself.

If we recognize inherent worth of other human beings, we can examine our own most basic needs and desires to determine what we as members of the same species have in common that are necessary for existence. Those most basic needs and desires of all human beings are generally given the name of "human rights"; rights we inherently possess because we are human.

Governments are nothing more than formal arrangements whereby groups of people live together. They only exist because people exist, and by their nature as a social species, form themselves into groups of various sizes. The power of government is actually the power of a community of people in aggregate--it does not originate from a god, it does not originate from a monarch. If a government's power originates with the community of people, a government cannot be the ultimate source of rights. Just as with the power of government, human rights originate with the people, not the government.

Briefly: To exist as a species, human beings must recognize inherent worth of other human beings because of our nature as reasoning, social animals that do not possess any inherent hierarchy imposed by biology. That inherent worth is manifested by inherent rights.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Kekerusey

Hi Recusant,

Quote from: Recusant on September 01, 2016, 10:07:06 AMBriefly: To exist as a species, human beings must recognize inherent worth of other human beings because of our nature as reasoning, social animals that do not possess any inherent hierarchy imposed by biology. That inherent worth is manifested by inherent rights.

Apologies if I am taking this out of context but I don't entirely agree because there have been many societies that have sucessfully existed which have slavery and various other degeraded sections of population. I agree that societies SHOULD recognise the worth of others I'm just not convinced they always do.

Keke
J C Rocks (An Aspiring Author's Journey)
The Abyssal Void War Book #1: Stars, Hide Your Fires


Recusant

#3
Quote from: Kekerusey on September 01, 2016, 04:20:54 PM
Hi Recusant,

Quote from: Recusant on September 01, 2016, 10:07:06 AMBriefly: To exist as a species, human beings must recognize inherent worth of other human beings because of our nature as reasoning, social animals that do not possess any inherent hierarchy imposed by biology. That inherent worth is manifested by inherent rights.

Apologies if I am taking this out of context but I don't entirely agree because there have been many societies that have sucessfully existed which have slavery and various other degeraded sections of population. I agree that societies SHOULD recognise the worth of others I'm just not convinced they always do.

Keke

None of the societies that practiced slavery did so because of a biological imperative. That is, there is nothing in human nature that compels us to own slaves. We can point to all sorts of things that people do that contradict the idea of inherent human worth, but unless these behaviors are manifestly universal in human societies, they will not help us gain an idea regarding what is actually part of human nature.

On the other hand, tribalism seems to be a basic component in how we operate as a species. Those who do not belong to the tribe may be seen as less then fully human. Tribalism then allows people to ignore the worth of those outside the tribe. However, the "real" people who are members of the tribe are considered to have worth by the very fact of their membership. My argument is that humanity is in fact only one tribe, and while we may hold to beliefs that contradict this, our genetic heritage shows that there is no objectively defensible basis for the petty subdivisions based on those beliefs.

In the most basic sense, I'm not talking about "shoulds" or "oughts" either, though I may occasionally use those terms. What I'm describing is, I think, rooted in what scientists have learned about our species.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Kekerusey

Hi Recusant,

Yeah, but such cultures clearly eatures groups of people with no rights. Right (sic)?

Keke
J C Rocks (An Aspiring Author's Journey)
The Abyssal Void War Book #1: Stars, Hide Your Fires


Recusant

Quote from: Kekerusey on September 01, 2016, 09:48:07 PM
Hi Recusant,

Yeah, but such cultures clearly eatures groups of people with no rights. Right (sic)?

Keke

I already agreed that there are societies that do not accept the concept of inherent human rights. I question whether that can serve as a basis for the argument that there is no such thing as inherent human rights.
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Kekerusey

Quote from: Recusant on September 01, 2016, 10:02:49 PMI already agreed that there are societies that do not accept the concept of inherent human rights. I question whether that can serve as a basis for the argument that there is no such thing as inherent human rights.

Fair enough ... I believe there are no inalienable (inherent) rights. I fail to see how they can be justified.

Keke
J C Rocks (An Aspiring Author's Journey)
The Abyssal Void War Book #1: Stars, Hide Your Fires


Asmodean

#7
Hmm...

My take? The rights of an individual are what that individual's current circumstances make them. The relevance of one's rights, however... Another story. A better story, if you ask me.

If you are staring down the barrel of a gun with a bullet accelerating towards your face in it, is your right to live relevant at that point? Ok, that was a slightly extreme example, but a typical problem with rights is where do one party's rights end and another [equal] party's rights begin?

It's... Complicated. But I suppose I can sum up the practical aspect of my view thusly; your rights are whatever you claim them to be until the moment someone or something comes and compeltely ignores them.
Quote from: Ecurb Noselrub on July 25, 2013, 08:18:52 PM
In Asmo's grey lump,
wrath and dark clouds gather force.
Luxembourg trembles.

Davin

Very well said, Recusant, I find that our views on this are not too different.

It seems that Kekerusey's point is that if the right can be violated, then it wasn't really an inalienable (or inherent) right. But since he isn't speaking to me, you;d have to ask him if that is the case.

For Asmo, I can see that point of view. I think it can be consistent with what Recusant has presented if you take situations based on the context. In the moment that someone is threatening you with a gun, it is not a good time to bring up a debate about human rights. But just because a person with a gun can murder people, doesn't mean that we can't talk about it before or after to determine if such actions should be allowed. Which brings us back to what I think Recusant was talking about, what I think is colloquially called the "social contract," the "I won't murder you if you don't murder me" kind of agreement.

But in general, I feel that the rights we should be concerned with, are when one person's actions affect another. Exceptions including but not limited to: children, people with potential mental problems... etc. In short those whose consent cannot be relied upon.
Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.