Thursday, February 25, 2010

What is a Right????

I stole this from another blog I follow "The Smallest Minority" and I liked it so much I am posting it up here.

I am going to let the readers comment on what makes a human right a human right.

Here is the email sent to The Smallest Minority:

Sorry to bother, but have been running a few thoughts through my brain recently and wanted to run them by you. I have been thinking about 'rights' and what they really are. Given you are probably the most versed in such subjects of all those I know, I thought you might be willing to discuss your thoughts with me.
To begin with, what is a right? Miriam-Webster defines a right as something a person can make a just claim to. So... what can we make a just claim to? I first started looking at this from an American standpoint, but realized I had to move past that. As American's are rights are only as good as they are recognized by others... which means the list gets really short of what actually are rights. Given that we as a human must have just claim to them, that would imply that all others would agree to that claim. Which means a right is subject to the crowd by which the claim is made. Which means, at least in my mind, that as the crowd increases the likeliness that they will all agree to your claim is less likely.
Moving past the abstract version of a right, I turned to American Rights. Obviously we have the constitution and the Bill of Rights that clearly defines our rights. However, I would argue that, as it was the government that gave us these 'rights' that they could then take them away at will. That for an American to truly have a right to something, even in America, that he/she must have the just claim that his/her fellow Americans agree and support. I could claim I have a right to all the fresh water in the country, but I doubt that many would agree with me... thus I don't have a right to the water. However, let's look at what is defined... I have the right to bare arms. For the most part, my fellow Americans would agree I have the right, but yet there would be those that disagree. Some of those people might even own a business and refuse my right to bear my arms in their establishment. With mere ownership and difference of opinion, they have stripped me of my right. So if the right can be taken away, then how is it really a right so much as just a privilege granted to me by those that would agree with me?
I know you have addressed these issues to great extent on your blog, but I am not sure you covered this outlook. If in fact the 'rights' we are granted by the constitution and the bill of rights are not really rights, but rather privileges... then what expectation can an American have of those privileges simply being taken away at the whim of anyone (or even the government that first granted them) taking them away? And, what recourse would one have against those that resend such privileges? If I grant you the privilege of drinking alcohol in my house, but then change my mind and want you to stop... as it is my house, don't I get to make that decision?
Your thoughts?


Fluffy said...

This is exactly the core issue I was trying to get to --but then you know that, which is why you posted it:)

Yes, it all comes down to what we think of as our rights - but what rights? and in what context? Now here's where we have to talk about natural rights and legal rights.

"The question of which (if any) rights are natural and which are merely legal is an important one in philosophy and politics. Critics of the concept of natural rights argue that the only rights that exist are legal rights, while proponents of the concept of natural rights say that documents such as the United States Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights demonstrate the usefulness of recognizing natural rights." (<- from Wikipedia)

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident..."

Those first words declare something that we know exists (natural laws) which came before government rights or laws. Self-evident truths -or natural rights, or human rights, or natural laws or whatever you call it -- were something we collectively understood. The Framers wrote it into the government's declaration so our self-evident truths would be respected by the government and there was a declaration of it's agreement to uphold our self-evident truths and not do away with them.

Using what we already knew to be universal truths (self-evident truths) we went on to create the legal/statutory rights and laws to govern.

You told me on another post that our rights are only Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness. Since the purpose of the Bill of Rights was not to limit rights of individuals but instead to limit the right of government, it wasn't necessary to speak of all the rights of the individuals. And when the government declared life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that was not presented as an all inclusive list--nor was it presented an an exhaustive list of all our rights. But you say it is.

And yes, back in-the-day when the Framers and the politicians debated about the danger of including a bill of rights they worried the government would be seen as the "giver" of rights, because that would also mean the government might take them away. Since it wasn't the government who gave them their self-evident truths the government couldn't take them away.

Self-evident truths...and the basic right and wrong of things are fascinating to me and form the framework for my own decisions (political and otherwise) and from what I read, created the basis for our society's framework and government.

You and I have very different philosophies on this very basic issue which then extends to differences on lots of subsequent issues.

Yes Steve, nobody has the legal right to health care, but I for one think it's part of my personal responsibility to not stand in the way of my fellow man on one of the most basic of human needs. For me it is not a privilege and it's not about whether that right to health care is included in the bill of rights!

It's about recognizing or pretending not to recognize a self-evident truth when presented with one.

RamRod said...

Here's my opinion on rights. We adapted "natural rights" into legal rights. Now the only rights that exist are the ones that people are willing to defend for themselves. No, I am not talking about armed insurrection. This could meen a legal, political, or even a public relations type fight. The Tea Party movement or even the progressive movement could be seen as people defending there "rights".

So on to healthcare...

Fluffy, can you explain to me who you think the people are that are not currently covered by some form of healthcare? Are they the unemployed poor? Nope, they have medicaid. What about just the working poor here in Arizona? Nope, they have a state run system that provides them with healthcare. The only catch? They are billed, and at some point in their life have to pay a portion of the bill back. With this in mind, please explain to me how you would be standing "in the way of my fellow man" by not approving a government run healthcare system. Please provide any examples you have.

I am not talking of healthcare reform. I agree that some of the proposed changes would be etremely benificial. But you seem to be refering to the free public option type healthcare.

Now I am under no illusion that it is probably not the same healthcare plan that you or I have. But what does that matter. I live in a better house, drive a better car, and can provide for my family better....BECAUSE I EARNED IT!

How do I know these programs or there? Because I lived a good majority of my life under these conditions, and using these programs. I just don't see the need for further taxation for a system that already exists. In my opinion it also conditions people to become dependent on "the system" to care for them. Trust me, there is a definite sense of entitlement that comes from excessive goverenment aid.

One last thing. If you feel a personal responsibility for you're fellow man, volunteer, donate, organize community events, etc. Don't infringe on my "right" to provide for my family by taking more of my money, so you can feel better about yourself.

Because I can tell you for certain...I am willing, and more than able, to defend my every sense of the word.

Fluffy said...

Your first two sentences illustrate the basis of our different perspective. From that, all other differences arise regarding this issue.

You want me to answer who is not covered, etc., but that jumps too far. We haven't agreed that the issue of whether or not basic human health care something we agree is a natural law. If the answer is no, then all other points about how it will works now, or how it should work or anything else is not logical for us to consider.

Fluffy said...

by your thinking, if government should cease to exist, then so do natural laws and rights. We disagree. Natural laws and rights existed prior to setting up legal laws. We didn't lose our natural laws when we set up legal laws. Natural laws existed before, during and after legal laws or government. They were self-evident and they remain self-evident as long as we are human beings.

Warthog said...

Fluffy that is the point I have been trying to make to you since we had our very first debate. care is not a natural right.

You have the natural right to do anything to yourself you want too. You have a natural right to treat your own health care.

You do not have a natural right to demand someone else treat you.

That would be taking away the rights of the person you are demanding something from.

Warthog said...

A natural right is something you can provide yourself with.

Fluffy said...

So liberty was not a natural right or an unalienable right by your difinition because if it was the slave would have been able to provide himself freedom from chains.

You say there should be some type of health care reform but you have said it is not the business of government. It either is or is not.

Trying to describe a natural right is very difficult but your correct the way we see Heath care forms the way we see issues.

Warthog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warthog said...

No, slaves had their right taken away by someone else.

No one can make you a slave, you can not be made to do anything. You can be beaten until you break and then do as you are told, but you are the one making the decision to do it, even if it is coerced.


So can you admitt that no one has a right to health care?

Can you admit that you believe people have duty to provide health care?

Because those are to very different things.

Finally, I think to continue this debate you need to answer the questions posed or the responses to your questions.

Otherwise, this is going in one big circle.

Fluffy said...

I don't want to go in a circle either. So let's agree to disagree.

It's obvious our disagreements originate at a very basic level. I disagree with your assertion: that a natural right is something you can provide yourself.

It is not something that is "PROVIDED" at all!

Since we can't agree on that basic premise, it's impossible to move forward. Our lack of agreement on concepts of self-evident truths and unalienable rights prevents that. And blogs on philosophies of live and society take more effort than we have time in our lives let's just agree to disagree.

What motivates me to blog every so often with you is my desire to understand and identify the premises from which your conclusions are derived.

If other readers re-examined their own ideals as a result, then even better. Either way I know I enjoyed it. It's been a good diversion for me. My aunt lost her life to cancer last night. So the meaning of life, death and health were were very much in the forefront of my mind. It's the issues that unites all of humanity. How we as a society see it and deal with it defines us a people.

But life goes on and I want to spend my time, energy and passion on what I enjoy most of all, my business and making money. Because although you see me as some bleeding heart Liberal, I'm really just a run-of-the-mill Capitalist.

Random thought: I believe in the goodness of man. (paradoxically) My only fear is being judged by a jury of my peers. ----Truly!!!:)

Warthog said...

I am sorry to hear about your aunt.

I am going to paste a comment I made on another post with a lib message.

"As for health care, well we have three different posts actively debating that now.

I say the conservatives fight this from a different front. I want to propose that everyone get a job. Manditory work, if you don't work then you are fined. The government will provide assignments. Your pay will be food stamps and a health card.

Food stamps will only be redemable at Matt's Gerneric General Store. No Fruit Loops there, just Tasty Os.

Do that LIBERALS and I will sign on to universal health care."

Warthog said...

Random Rebuttal: I believe in the inherent treachery of man. My only fear is failing my friends and family.

I will take care of me and mine if you take care of you and yours.