Why I Will Not Accept Rights-Based Justifications For LibertySubmitted by Molusk on Sun, 06/23/2013 - 23:19
It is not necessary to claim that everyone has the "rights" for liberty to be achieved. It is actually counter productive since the arguments cannot be maintained under scrutiny. When put to the proof, rights turn out to have little or no actual meaning and have no binding force on others except insofar as they are rhetorically powerful. To the extent it is used as symbol and rhetoric, I support the rights language, but never in an intellectual discussion.
To say someone has the right to self defense, for example, is almost a meaningless truism with no moral content. To say its a right, what does that even mean? If they are unable to do so, their right means nothing. If they are able to do so, their right means nothing. To say its a right is just a meaningless, private opinion on the morality of the act.
I would say, everyone has the ability to try to act in self defense, and it usually is in their interests; they have the free will to make a decision to resist slavery at risk to their own persons if they so choose. It may be in their best interests, and so, morally right from their perspective.
But it is not necessary to assume or try to prove that it is also morally obligatory on all others to accept its rightness, or to accept as binding someone else's interests or moral claims. I have no natural obligation to act in the interests of others. Nothing can compel me to do so but force if I choose not to. No one can claim I am morally bound to limit my freedom in order to protect the interests of other living things, men or animals. This obligation can only spring from an implicit or explicit social arrangement where I exchange my "good behavior" for protection from the "bad behavior" of others. In a state of nature or anarchy, its every man for himself.
To claim a moral assertion, or an "ought," is binding on others is a dangerous slope to enter down. It could be argued that everyone has the moral right to not starve to death. If this is true, then it is a direct path to justifying socialism. If you establish the precedent that someone must self-limit their range of activities on moral grounds, to not harm others, it isn't a far stretch from there to require everyone feed the poor. Neither moral claim, the socialist or the non-aggressionist, is provable or unprovable.
It would be very hard for me to argue against a starving man's moral claim of a right to to feed himself, even by stealing. How could I seriously say he's wrong to steal rather than die? That does not mean I am bound to feed him or to see myself as in the wrong to protect my property, it just means we can both be in the right to act in our interests.
I could never call someone immoral for stealing to feed their hungry children, but I am not morally wrong to defend my property either. Morality is subjective and rooted in the different interests of different living beings, in nature as well as among people. People are also animals, a part of nature, and in nature, interests rule morality and power determines rights for all creatures. Animal rights end where animal power ends, and with humans the only added factor is social agreements and mutual or collective action to secure the legal enforcement of political arrangements, which animals cannot do. There is no magical x factor that intrudes to make humans have rights where other living animals do not.
It is not required that there be a universal binding morality for everyone, in order for political rights to be achieved. It is not necessary for every conflict to have a right and wrong party for political rights to be enforced by a body of individuals.
I reject the moral universalism inherent in natural rights claims, and the impossible requirement of proving such a moral system. I feel that by rooting out these faulty arguments, I actually strengthen the libertarian position by making its foundation real and sound, and defensible. If I have any one thing that defines me it is an intellectual conscience that does not allow me to use false and logically fallacious arguments to fool myself, or others, in order justify something I want to believe in.