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What is a right?

Thanks for your help everyone. Note the purpose of this exercise is to create a video and post it on youtube in the end. Conclusions in bold please let me know if you disagree with either a better explanation or an alternative of the current one. (I have numbered and lettered points to make it easier to reference)

What can be defined as a right?
Answer A: An enforceable claim of entitlement

What is a natural right?
Answer B: Things to which you are innately entitled.
i.e The right to life liberty and property and rights derived from those rights (like self defence)

Where does the authority for a natural right come from?
Answer C:

  1. You own yourself, your will, body and existence are inseperable as one entity.
  2. Entities are either acting or inactive, but when acting those acts belong to the entity.
  3. That makes the entity generator and owner of those acts. To own your actions is to own yourself
  4. This is a natural ownership, inalienable, untransferable
  5. Because the entity naturally owns themselves, they can naturally do with themselves as they wish, and do as they wish with the product of themselves(labour, time, effort).
  6. Entities do not live in a vaccume and sometimes the actions of one entity encroach on the actions of another.
  7. This is where rights come in. Everyone needs to know their rights, in order to know when they've been wronged. If you had your arm cut off, and if you did not know you had a right to your arm you would have no reason for grevience. Rights are therefore are the concepts that allow people to know when they have been abused and must seek justice. Everyone has their own idea what their rights are. When it comes sorting out these issues in the absence of commonly agreed rights and enforcement of those rights, the default situation is might is right.
  8. The default/natural position for this is to assume our natural attributes(what you own) are rights. Rights are universal, so to not take the default position this and say you have a right to own someone else, means someone owns you, which means they own what you own, etc etc which is circular. It is also the reason societal ownership does not make sense.
  9. At this point I am taking no position on who should administer the rights, but am leaning towards the minarchist position.

Is there any justification for rights that are not natural?

Three useful peices of reading that have been provided in the comments below.

Built on Morality, but even if you don't think morality is the key there is still some very good points made like in the who owns what section

Very similar to the authors (Michael Badnarik ) constitution class- I would defiitely recommend seeing it on google. It takes a while but puts a lot of things in context

Rights start to be mentioned on page 10

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NZ, in the other thread, you

NZ, in the other thread, you brought up the question

"If there are no rights and I think the noise from your stereo is invading my house, how do you resolve that dispute?
Can I go into your house and take your stereo?
And if I do that, can you shoot me to take it back?"

that thread was really cluttered so i'm going to respond here:

That is what mr. Carlin said at the end of that clip, that if i say something you don't like, you have the right to kill me.

I think that the scenario you are describing is the reason we have laws and punishments. In an anarchy, I could absolutely say that you have no right to complain about my stereo and that I have a right to keep my property.

At the same time, you could say that I have no right to property and you have a right to having quiet neighbors. Due to the fact that rights are arbitrary and there is nobody enforcing any laws, this situation would probably end with you breaking my stereo or killing me or something similar.

The only way that dispute would be resolved peacefully is if we both agree on what rights we have. If both of us agree that it is against your rights for my music to disturb you and against my rights for you to mess with my property, then respect for what we believe are each other's rights causes us to change our behavior. The important part is that this is all mental, the rights themselves do not actually do anything.

Or, perhaps I could just be a nice person, and agree that it is mean of me to play my stereo loud. So we just solved the dispute without resorting to talking about rights.

The reason why rights don't exist is that by definition, rights are supposed to be absolutely defined and inalienable. If we can both simply disagree on who has what rights, then obviously the term is meaningless. The concept of rights becomes the basis for our laws. There are laws that say the cops can come harass me if my neighbor complains about the music and I can take you to court if you break my stuff.

That is why I think that the belief that no rights exist and believing in anarchy, such as I think what dabooda is talking about, is incompatible. Because rights are imaginary, it seems better to me to have a constitutional system of laws so that everybody is clear on what all of the rules are.

(my apologies to dabooda if i have misrepresented your position, all your posts were really long so i haven't read all of them yet.)

What is a Natural Right

First let me Say I am against what I am going to do. I swore to myself that I would never help another unthinking Man.
I'm on Strike.
Then why am I here. I was looking for some information for a friend and came across all of You.
You, some of You seem to be trying to Reason all of this out. Good.
I like some of what I am hearing, but not all of it. For years now many of Us have been fed some interesting and easily digested "Opinions", which are solely based on "feeling", ie. "I think or I feel that a certain thing will definitely show this or that." This type of Speak is used alot today.
Does this sound familiar to any of You.
The word Feeling or feel has been substituted to mean Think.
Feel doesn't mean Think.
Emotion and Feelings are from ones Thoughts, feelings do not and never will give Knowledge. Try to feel if a certain thing is poisonous and let's see the result of Your feelings.
Try to feel as if You've just eaten and we'll see what eventually happens when You starve.
OK so on to Natural Law/ Natural Rights.
This is easy.
If a person lived alone on an Island what rights to the things he found on this Island would he have.
Total rights. Now what about the animals. Still total because any Rational Man would not destroy the things that make the continuation of his life possible.
Now another man appears, civility time.
What is who's.
Easy to decide, first we all have no way to judge any man's heart or thoughts, so both Men have total Rights.
Oh conflict you say, yup.
No, if these Men are rational (thinking) men they could come to a beneficial agreement on the subject of who's is what, in question.
If the men are feeling(not rational) animals, not thinking as many men are today then force/violence would be used, to make decisions.
Why did I use the word force, because many people use force to get what they want theses days, coercion, only the threat of violence is enough for people to give in.
Now what is this talk about Group rights. There are no group rights. The rights of a group are only those which come from the members of that group and no more. If more rights are given to a "Group", then this would be akin to the White's of the old South and of the Medieval Lords of even older days.
Now think of this, if we all agree men are equal, not create Physically equal, just equal to succeed in This Society, then we say, oh yeah that's all true except for people, that have blue eyes. People with blue eyes can see better in the dark, most of the time, so they aren't equal and since they can, most of the time, see better in the dark, they have to work only in mines and at night, the Group Says. This is Our Right to make them do it. We can't do it and We Need.
Years would go by and they would all have forgotten what took place. The assigning them to work in the mines and in the dark. Now these people, the Blue Eyed People, would feel as if they have a right to these positions, these jobs, it's their "Group Right".
Would they have a claim to these jobs as a right?
They wouldn't have the right because all men have the right.
These people forgot this when they forced these people into the mines and the people in the mines forgot how they got there.
In simpler terms the "rights"of the group forced them in the mines.
Now the "rights" of the Blue Eyed People to stay in the mines and keeping all others from those jobs is being used as a Defense. Hmm.
Weird how two wrongs are still wrong.
Why is the "Group rights" a wrong argument.
If you can't see from My example then good Luck.
Here's one more example/question.
Does a group have a right to You, to do with You what "The Group" wants or claims right to able to do. "We need You to give this, work here, work at this, because we can't and You can, We need it because we have the right of the "Group".
Hmm sounds like Thugs, the Mob, a Mob Rule or an out of Control, un-balance/un-checked Government.
Keep it up, the unthinking, the unreasoning, the blanking out, the uncaring about Your lives.
The examples I laid out, above were the "Group Rights" argument. This "Group Rights" is actually.....Group Feelings and Beliefs, disguised as a Right.
When a Society is truly Free and all those who want to be a part of it can be, then no segment of the population is elevated above any other or lowered to that of others.
All that I have said has been Proven before, about 300 Years ago. Oh you thought that the US was the oldest "Free Republic", ah no.
The Netherlands was the first and very successful, try the The Dutch East India Company for a start.{This was the Birth of Corporations, Corporate Law and Central Banks, Ick on the Central Bank Part, but it worked for a while, the right way}

This all should lead to discussion and research.
Any one who thinks that I am in error, heah let me know, just don't waste My precious Life, with someone disagreeing based solely on arbitrary rhetoric or other feeling type arguments.
A free man's mind is his and can not be changed.
A free man's mind can be in error, because of bad data.
A free man's mind is what we have all forgotten to use, this is Our Birth Right as Humans.
No claws, No teeth, No strength, just the ability to make things and figure things out to survive.
We need to start doing this again.
I hope (emotion against thought) some men of Thought show up soon to Help those of Us that still believe in The Natural Law, the reason for this Country Rising so far in so few Years, in the scope of Human History.
10,000 Years of Human History. US 200 Years. SWEET.
Farewell for Now.

Where do we get our natural rights?

It comes from the existance of a conscience.

Whether it was mystically given to us or we possess it because of evolution, it makes no difference.

A human can be defined as an animal that exercises its conscience as defined by objectivism. There are many homo sepians that are merely animals and have no more rights than animals.


Its got some good things,

but I don't quite agree with it in some places (It could be wording, rather than actual difference of opinion though...)

Alas, I'm too tired to go through it in great detail right now. I'll sleep on it and-- time willing -- give you a decent reply tomorrow.


What can be defined as a right?
Answer A: A claim of entitlement

I Agree somewhat-- I would just describe it as an entitlement, rather than a 'claim' to entitlement.

What is a natural right?
Answer B: The right to life liberty and property and rights derived from those rights (like self defense)

Those are natural rights, but they are not the definition of a natural right. The definition I would use would be: Things to which you are innately entitled.

Where does the authority for a natural right come from?
Answer C:

  1. You own yourself, your will, body and existence are inseperable as one entity.
  2. ...

The sentiment expressed in 1,2, 3, and 4 is excellent; The idea that your your will and your body are inseparable is a great start point. I love the bit asserting that you, and you alone, are the owner of your actions.

5 is pretty good.

6 is fine.

7 is where you lose me: You claim:

Everyone needs to define their own rights in order to know when they have been wronged.

I would contend that everyone needs to know their rights, in order to know when they've been wronged.

If you had your arm cut off, and if you did not beleive you had a right to your arm you would have no grevience.

No, you would still have a grievance, you simply would not voice it. Just because they define their rights differently does not mean that they have not been wronged, it simply means that they do not percieve that they have been wronged.

For example consider a lowly state granted right-- (read privilege):
In Miranda v. Arizona the Supreme Court held that if one is not informed of their right to remain silent, then they cannot wave it, and any confessions or testimony they offered prior to being informed of that right cannot be used in a court of law. In essence, even our legal system acknowledges that just because you don't know about your 'right' doesn't mean you wave it-- in fact it means that you cannot wave it.

Rights are therefore are the concept people use to adminster justice.

I'd say they are concepts that allow people to know when they have been abused and must seek justice. Laws combined with force of government, or simple vigilantism are used to administer justice.

Everyone has their own idea [of] what rights are. When it comes sorting out these issues in the absence of commonly agreed rights and enforcement of those rights, might is right.

Might does not make right; might is merely a means to an end. It affords you the opportunity to achieve justice and assert your right. It in no way shape or form guarantees that your rights will be preserved, and that justice will be served.

8. I like the 'circular ownership' bit. You should flesh that out more so its more evident why that makes societal ownership an invalid argument.

9. Understandable. In my heart of hearts I think anarchy would be wonderful, however I contend that minarchy is only practical option at this time.

Is there any justification for rights that are not natural?

Not really. If you're not entitled to something naturally, then it is a privaledge. But do not take that to mean that I believe artificially constructed rights are any less deserving of defense, then natural rights-- provided they're compatible.

Finally I'd like to get your thoughts on a little scenario I thought up the other day:

If we assume you are all alone, shipwrecked on a desert island, then even if we assume societal ownership of the individual you gain self-ownership, as you are the only individual society is comprised of. In other words, you would, by the virtue of your very existence be inheriting rights. Rights that you gain simply by the virtue of being are natural rights-- hence Natural Rights exist.

Cheers good feedback

Mostly comments that I could adopt. :-) Revised conclusion above

In terms of your scenario, I understand what you are trying to do, but it does not make sense to me...
In a society of one the rights of the society and the individual merge showing that they are one and the same? Something seems missing from the argument but can't put my finger on it.

"If we assume you are all alone, shipwrecked on a desert island, then even if we assume societal ownership of the individual you gain self-ownership, as you are the only individual society is comprised of. In other words, you would, by the virtue of your very existence be inheriting rights. Rights that you gain simply by the virtue of being are natural rights-- hence Natural Rights exist."

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/youownyou (quotes)
Website: http://www.own-yourself.com

No problemo--

I agree that the scenario is off-- Twas the main reason I posted it up here. I wanted to try and fix it up so that it could be used as an argument against the 'no natural rights' crowd.

The basis for the idea was simply that 'society' is composed of a series of artificial contractual relationships between individuals. If an individual were dropped into an environment without those contractual relationships then he would in essence be in an entirely natural environment. What happens to him at that point? Would he have any rights? What rights would he have? etc..

I'm still looking for a decent way to phrase it.

Rights are property. "In a

Rights are property.

"In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights. Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses." James Madison

"The individual may stand upon his constitutional rights as a citizen. He is entitled to carry on his private business in his own way. His power to contract is unlimited. He owes no duty to the state or to his neighbors to divulge his business, or to open his doors to an investigation, so far as it may tend to criminate him. He owes no such duty to the state, since he receives nothing therefrom, beyond the protection of his life and property. His rights are such as existed by the law of the land long antecedent to the organization of the state, and can only be taken from him by due process of law, and in accordance with the Constitution. Among his rights are a refusal to incriminate himself, and the immunity of himself and his property from arrest or seizure except under a warrant of the law. He owes nothing to the public so long as he does not trespass upon their rights." HALE v. HENKEL, 201 U.S. 43 (1906) http://laws.findlaw.com/us/201/43.html

Here's an alternative:

"Rights" are part of our collective mythology just like the "self evident" statement that "all men are created equal." They have no deeper justification (or existence in reality) than that they are/can be convenient for the maintenance of relations among men and between men and government.

In regard to this collective mythology, it is worth noting that it is an *experiment.* We don't know if widespread recognition of these myths will work practically to bring about the results we (and the founders) envision it will. And no one has really tried it yet.

We, as adherents to the basic tenants of the founders, tend to think of them as deriving from, or tend to seek for them to derive from, some other authority, like the authority of reason or from the creator. My conclusion, however, is that they might find some authority in reason if they were found to produce the results envisioned, and only then. They might derive from the authority of the creator if he had communicated them more universally to men. Unfortunately, they have not been tried as a widespread accepted mythology nor embraced in anything approaching a universal manner. So the jury is out.

The Problem is

What is self evident to one is not necessarily self evident to another.
Someone might say that it is self evident that a welfare state is needed for society to exist. You cannot argue against that if you accept that self evidence is a reason in itself to do something. You can only argue that their self evident is not yours, then who is to decide?
Also if it is an experiment who decides if it is a sucess or failure?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/youownyou (quotes)
Website: http://www.own-yourself.com

Of course,

Those are problems. Efforts at sophistry, however, won't make them go away.

The assumption is that they will be self evident in some relatively unified form to the overwhelming majority of the population (or at least those people with power to determine such things in the society). The "undefined" notions of the constitution are exactly that: A framework prescribing (and limiting) a collective mythology. Note that word "collective." It is not a philosophy of unbridled individuality. That is also part of the experiment. Will those in power recognize and act according to the limitations of the mythology? The answer seems to be more or less "no." In this regard, the experiment has been a failure. There are other measures however. Does the mythology, in whatever manner in which it has influence, lead to peace, prosperity, and happiness? There are certainly many who argue that it has been successful in this regard and that the measure in which we have failed in these things is directly correlated (and results from) the degree in which we have departed from the ideals/mythology.

Yes, someone might say that it is self evident that a welfare state is needed for society to exist. (That is not too far from Hamilton's philosophy.) But that is simply not what our founders said.

I do not follow your argument that I cannot argue against such an assertion. I never said that self evidence was a reason in itself to do something. (Though certainly many, if not most, things are done on that basis exactly.) The "reason," if one is needed, is the demonstration of the outcome. As a whole, the founders approach is experimental---it's not clear how it will come out and, from that point of view, there is no reason to take their particular framework at the start. Portions of it, however, and similar things (and many alternatives) have been tried. And one can attempt to argue and mold the vision/mythology based on such observations. That *is* what the founders did more than anything, after all.

As for your final question: Who is to decide? Many answers could be given...but perhaps none is required. (*Why* does someone need to decide?)

Ayn Rand's book "The Virtues of Selfishness" states it very well

She explains what are NOT rights, but which are today mistakenly BELIEVED to BE rights.

The following are NOT RIGHTS: Health care, a job, an education, food, shelter, land, woman's rights, minority rights, gay rights, elderly rights, and not even disabled rights.

There are only the rights of the individual which are rights to Life, Liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness.

If all of the above perceived rights were REALLY a RIGHT then our founding documents would have said the RIGHT to HAPPINESS.

We only have the right to earn those things because if they are perceived as rights, it means that someone else OWED it to someone else.

IE: If you have a RIGHT to FOOD, then it means some farmer would be OBLIGED to give you some of the food he has grown, even if you have nothing to give him in return. This would of course would be a violation of HIS right to Liberty, because then he would be a slave.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

Not Rand's finest hour.

Her definition of rights derived from her code of morality. People with different codes come up with different ideas about what rights ought to be. Sure, some of them are self-contradictory and involve human sacrifices. Even so, for people who subscribe to those moral views, their belief in their "rights" to other people's property is every bit as logical as Rand's beliefs. Who says everyone is rational? The problem is, rights are a concept, not something real. And the concept is flawed. See my long post below (Rights are Santa Claus).

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

I Disagree.

Her definition of rights was the first fully developed understanding.

Rand Explained

...Rand's view of rights were essentially one's option to engage in any rational action.

In her view, humans are social creatures who must engage in mutually beneficial exchange in order to survive and to enhace their lives. She viewed coercion as irrational because if one must coerce another then only one party benefits at the other's expense. The exchange is thus, at best, a zero sum game.

Coercion is therefore antisocial and irrational.

If your actions place a claim on another than they are coercive and therefore cannot be a "right".

So I guess the following passage...

was not one of our founders' finest hours either...

"That all men are created equal;
that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS; that to SECURE these rights, governments are instituted among men; deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT becomes destructive of these ends, it is the RIGHT of the people to ALTER or ABOLISH IT.

Ayn Rand in that same book said the the United States was the first moral government ever instituted in the HISTORY OF MAN, because of the founders' emphasis on the individual -- as opposed to past civilizations' emphasis on state, tribe, class, clan, race, birthright, bloodline, myth or any other IMMORAL SOCIETAL CLASS which felt it had SPECIAL rights or privelages based on their COMMON thread.

Your essay was well thought out and brought up valid questions about personal choices, but it sounds somewhat anarchistric where there is no need for laws or governments to uphold such laws.

Sure we could all be armed to the teeth (and believe me, I support the 2nd ammendmant fully) and choose to brandish our weapons at every moment where we feel our own particular code of law (which you advocate) is violated.

What if my code of law says that since you drive a red car, I don't like you too much so if we cross paths, I'll take some action.

Bottom line is -- I believe in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence and feel that these beautiful documents and philosophies made us the greatest champions of individual liberty in history.

It sounds like you don't...But of course, that is your right!

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

You're quite right

I am, indeed, an anarchist. Like Murray Rothbard, I believe that the idea of a limited government that stays limited is truly Utopian. I believe that no ones rights are safe as long as a government exists to "protect" them. (By "rights" I mean ones liberty to do whatever one believes is right, so long as one does not injure another's person or property.)

The Bill of Rights and the Constitution were a good try at establishing a free society and limiting the exercise of political savagery -- but they have clearly failed. If the only real choice men have is between unlimited government and no government, I'll take the latter.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Reality is not a "choice".

If you define government in terms of the "initiation of force", then *some form* of government will exist wherever you find people.

Disliking gravity (or any other phenomenon) is not a compelling argument against its existence.

"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini.

I almost responded last night

I'm a huge Ayn Rand fan, and the work you suggested was from her early years and under the Influence of Isablla Paterson at that time.

Ayn did quatum leaps when she discovered she was a philosopher and established Objectivism, which the response I gave below, to the top post, was inspired.

I give you huge points for thinking of Ayn, and I don't blame you one bit for employing any of her work. The more you explore Ayn, the more you will find the devil in the details, and you can do with them as you wish (and the beauty of Ayn's Objectivism... IT'S YOU that matters.

It is no accident that the term "right" in terms of liberty and

the term "right" in terms of correctness sound alike and are spelled alike, for they are actually the same word, just with differing usages in modern English.

They both describe the character or quality of something, but the first has become a noun and taken on usage as the item it is describing, while the other remains an adjective.

All of it resolves down to sovereignty and the authority to act.

Each person, with respect to another, is sovereign unto themselves. This is where the concept of "self-ownership" comes from. (the alternative is that someone else "owns" you and you are NOT sovereign - hence - slavery)

As a rational being, each person must be responsible for the care of their own lives and property. (there is a case of those not capable, or cognizant of their responsibilities - such as children. There are additional responsibilities placed upon parents to educate and rear their offspring to understand and be able to be responsible on their own)

Since you have certain responsibilities, and cannot rightfully demand others feed, clothe, shelter, or assist you in any way, YOU need to have the authority to fulfill those responsibilities.

One such example is that each person is responsible for the defense of their own life, to preserve it, nurture it, and enjoy it. No one else has this responsibility for you. (with the above caveat) Thus is it correct, proper, and "right" that you have the authority to do certain actions or own certain tools that you need to fulfill that responsibility. It is not and cannot be "right" that you would have a responsibility but be barred the means to fulfill it. (you may not have the means, but they cannot be denied you, else WHY would the responsibility lie with YOU?)

In common usage, it was said that it is it "right" that you defend yourself and thus "right" that you keep and bear arms in fulfillment and preparedness of that defense. It was "right" that you had certain authority to act in a certain manner.

There are a long and undefined list of these authorities that it is "right" that you have in order to fulfill all of your responsibilities. Eventually, this list became known as "your rights." This is why the adjective is also used as a noun, and why people often say that "rights" entail "responsibilities." (in actuality, since "rights" are merely sovereign authorizations to act as a direct consequence of responsibility, it is more correct to say that "responsibilities" entail "rights.")

This is of course a short and abbreviated version but I believe accurately describes the true nature and origin of "rights." To negate the initial premise of self-sovereignty and ownership, always leads to slavery and tyranny. This is the only system that does not.


Ayn Rand defined rights as "a moral concept sanctioning a person's freedom of action in a political context." (I'm quoting from memory here, but I'm sure it's pretty close.) She reasoned that since it is (morally) right to live as a rational being, people have "a right" to do so.

It always seemed like a weaselly, circular sort of explanation to me, and your argument follows the same path.

I have no problem with the moral concepts here; I'm all for individual responsibility and self-ownership. My problem is with the "political context" part. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . unfortunately, nowadays governments don't give a rat's rear for the consent of the governed. Seems like if I don't consent to be governed by the current gang (and I don't), I ought to be exempt from their attentions. Ya think?

Me too. They impose their view of my "rights and obligations" on me, whether I agree or not. Mostly obligations, and no rights worth mentioning.

I keep coming back to the question: if your government does not respect "your rights," what good are they? Why is the concept useful at all?

This confounding of morality and legality via the concept of "human rights" does not really benefit our freedom; it merely gives the politicians a rhetorical excuse for their depredations. If people have "a right" to such-and-such, then the politician claims a moral sanction for giving it to them. They gloss over the fact that everything a politician gives to one man is stolen from another.

I may conduct my life according to my own moral choices, regardless of legality -- not because I have "a right" to do so, but simply because I believe in following my own judgment of right and wrong.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

It is really hard to have a conversation with anyone who

inserts their own arguments they disagree with as your own and then they argue against them.

Do you like debating yourself?

I mentioned nothing of Rand.

I mentioned nothing of it being "right" to be a "rational being." (though I did mention that rationality leads to the only conclusion that responsibility for one's self must lie with one's self and not with anyone else.)

I mentioned nothing of a moral or political context.

I mentioned nothing of government.

I never attempted to confound morality with legality.

Legality and morality have nothing to do with it.

I suppose or presume no imposition of morality or "my idea" of what your "rights" or "obligations" are other than those I will not assume to do for you. (I may help, guide, teach or otherwise assist you, but I refuse to actually take over and fulfill that which it is your responsibility to do for yourself - and what you have the responsibility to do for yourself, I have the responsibility to do for myself.)

I never claimed that ANYONE has a "right" TO anything. (what you are describing here is a sense of ENTITLEMENT, not a "right") No one has the "right" to a THING. (impossible) A "right" is "the authority to act to fulfill a responsibility."

There is no weaselly or circular reasoning in my position since I don't end up where I started, nor rely on my conclusion as my premise.

My approach to the topic was to look into the historical usage of the words - etymology. By tracing back the concepts of each, it was possible to see why the adjective - "right" in terms of "proper" or "correct" - became used as a noun - "right" in terms of "liberty". Once that was done, then the REAL meaning of the noun form became crystal clear. (it was merely a colloquial substitute for a more complex subject that didn't yet have it's own word)

People have responsibility for themselves because someone must.

If someone ELSE has responsibility for you, you are a slave, or a ward. (hence you are NOT free) If YOU have those responsibilities you ARE free.

Because you have responsibilities, it is proper or correct, or "right" that you should be able to take certain actions to fulfill them. It is impossible to fulfill responsibilities if you don't have the authority to take the actions required to do so. Thus if the responsibility lies with YOU then YOU must be the one with the authority to act to fulfill it, and no one else.

Eventually, as a short form of saying "the list of authorities to take certain actions to fulfill your responsibilities that it is 'right' for you to have" became - your list of "rights."

"Rights" are simply the noun usage of the adjective "right" that modifies "authorities."

Other words in our language take on narrow and specialized meanings such as this when they are used as a different part of speech. But the origin and idea behind them doesn't go away. (though maybe, like in the case of "rights," forgotten by many)

Note again, that this has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with government at ALL. If not a single government existed, then you would still have certain responsibilities and thus it would only be "right" that you had the authorities to fulfill them. The existence of government does not enhance or diminish responsibilities, and so does not enhance or diminish your authority to fulfill those responsibilities, a.k.a. your "rights." (and I mean government here in the general sense, not a specific one)

This has nothing to do with government "respecting" your "rights." (authorities) "Rights" do not have value or importance or utility because governments respect them, protect them, secure them, enshrine them, list them, or if the government derives any of it's power via your consent. (and governments, nor any piece of paper "gives" them to you - that would be called "permissions" or "license" to do what you otherwise do not have the "authority" or "right" to do) "Rights" are not "given" to you, they are yours by your very existence. (because your responsibilities are yours by your very existence) You do not have "rights" because they are "respected," you have "rights" because you have "responsibilities" and one of those responsibilities is for you to understand, assert, and actually exercise your authorities in order to fulfill your other responsibilities. In short, you have them, thus you keep them if you assert and use them.

"Rights" are important and INVALUABLE and have utmost 'utility', because without them, you HAVE NO AUTHORITY to ACT to fulfill your RESPONSIBILITIES. (that's because your list of "rights" ARE your list of "authorities" to act - they are one in the same) Without them, you are at the mercy and charity of others. Without them, you cannot seek your own happiness. Without them, you are a slave.

To the degree that you allow others, notably government, to assume responsibility for you, you also surrender the authority to act, since it is now "right" that whomever has now assumed or taken over responsibility for you has those authorities. You have no use of them since you have abrogated your responsibilities, and whomever is your caretaker (to put it nicely) MUST have those authorities if they are to properly carry out that care.

Abrogating your authority to act because you abrogated your responsibilities is what makes you "less free."

However, since the responsibilities truly always lie with you, then you cannot "alienate" yourself from them. Thus the corresponding list of authorities, also cannot be alienated from you, hence the concept of "inalienable rights." Responsibility for your own welfare is inalienable from you because otherwise you could be legitimately made a slave or ward forever with no chance of ever being free again. Additionally, this would make you a permanent burden and charge against another human being.

You may think that is acceptable at first glance, but for such a concept to be feasible and not result in all out constant civil war on a planetary scale, you can't force anyone to accept responsibility for others. The survival of each individual and the whole of mankind requires that responsibility lies with each person for themselves.

People are not psychologically wired to remain under the thumb of another absolutely, without cracking and lashing out eventually at those who assume responsibility for them. Children are an excellent example of this. As they age and began to learn of their responsibilities for themselves, and how to fulfill them, they necessarily recognize that they need to have certain authority to do so properly. The teenage years are a transition where young adults are asserting their "authority" to act on their own behalf, but yet still are not capable of doing so fully. There is no set age for this, and can vary from relatively young ages, to sometimes people NEVER learning to be responsible.

This is why people say "freedom" comes from "responsibility." (though they may not understand it exactly as I outlined it here) Just look around you. People who take ownership for their responsibilities, and exercise their authorities to act to fulfill them, and understand what those responsibilities and authorities are, and their limits, are the people in the world who are "free." The others to varying degrees, are dependent, or worse, slaves, and suffer a commensurate lower level of "freedom" or "liberty."

In this sense, "freedom" is not the "license" to do what you want, but the "responsibility" to do what YOU "must."

This is in essence the only "rational" "law" or conclusion one could reach that works for every individual and the species as a whole:

each Man must be responsible for his own self.

Absent that, you are left with no law - or as some would put it - the "law of the jungle."

Nice peice

Is this explanation of rights something you have come up with over time, or is there perhaps a main source you have derived this from that I could perhaps read?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/youownyou (quotes)
Website: http://www.own-yourself.com

Natural Rights are...

a consequence of property rights.

If I own an object, then naturally I am allowed to do with it what I wish-- that is the definition of ownership.

If I presume I own myself, then I can assert all of the rights that naturally go along with self ownership.

If I do not presume I own myself, then I have no natural rights, as I do not own my person.

Since the presumption is justified by a subjective standard-- a belief that 'God gave me to me', or a belief in 'automatic and irrevocable self-ownership'-- it can always be debated, but when we examine the problem from a practical point of view it becomes evident that declaring self-ownership to be self-evident is the better of the two choices.

If we assume that individuals do not axiomatically gain self-ownership then we doom the system to be challenged continuously, and violently.

It doesn't scan.

So you think you have "property rights" which allow you to do whatever you wish with your property? How does that work for you, when you want to do something with your property that some bureaucrat doesn't want you to do? How does your "self ownership" operate when you require government permissions or must pay taxes to travel, drive a car, enter most professions, own real property, raise children, own a gun, or even commit suicide? All your "rights" are worth -- what, exactly?
And while it may be self-evident to you that self-ownership is a better choice than viewing people as property of the state, don't be surprised if 99.9% of the US Government takes the opposite view. But you're right that it guaranties violent challenges ahead.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

How does that work for you,

How does that work for you, when you want to do something with your property that some bureaucrat doesn't want you to do?

I do it.

How does your "self ownership" operate when you require government permissions or must pay taxes to travel, drive a car, enter most professions, own real property, raise children, own a gun, or even commit suicide?

I don't need permission. Though I am a minarchist-- and as such I do accept certain taxes as legitimate.

All your "rights" are worth -- what, exactly?

Everything to me-- which is why they can't be taken.

And while it may be self-evident to you that self-ownership is a better choice than viewing people as property of the state, don't be surprised if 99.9% of the US Government takes the opposite view.

I'm not surprised. Of course they'll disagree, they currently believe that they, in one form or another, own me. I mean, if I lost a pet I too would go to great lengths to get it back.

But you're right that it guaranties violent challenges ahead.

It guarantees challenges, whether they get violent is in their hands. I just assume that they will-- as governments are notorious for their inability to spare the rod.

I absolutely respect and commend your choices.

But why bother calling them "rights"? It's your power to make choices based on your own moral judgment that can't be taken away from you. The whole idea of "rights" is such a polluted pond, filled with collectivist shit, that you ought to think twice about jumping in. Like the once-proud word, "Liberalism," we have lost the word "rights." It's been corrupted beyond redemption.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Lost words can be reclaimed--

in fact we must reclaim them.

They hold a special place in our culture; they provoke certain feelings, and command our attention. That is why they were claimed by others in the first place.

There's a passage in "The Road to Serfdom" by Hayek about this very topic. I'll post a bit here for you to peruse:

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they ... have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before. The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen. And the most effective way to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.... Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed.... If one has not one's self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates... And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed consciously or unconsciously to direct the people. Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.

--Hayek, "The Road to Serfdom"

I enjoyed the book thoroughly, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to those of you who have yet to read it-- it can be slow at times, but it has some very brilliant passages.

You can find some more Hayek quotes here

Good quote

But it supports my point better than it does yours. You can't reclaim a word that has already become an empty shell, meaning everything and nothing. People have come to believe the democratic principle that they have "a right" to whatever they believe IS right. In fact, they believe they have "rights" to anything that's been voted into law. And so they do: legal rights. How many people still know or care that there is a difference between legal rights and human rights? Time for us to redraw our battle lines; the enemy has captured our word and emasculated it.

Can you name a single word that has been so debased, and was later restored to its original meaning? I bet not.

Hayek himself gave up on the word "Liberal."-- which is what he considered himself to be. He wrote:

"In the United States, where it has become almost impossible to use "liberal" in the sense in which I have used it, the term "libertarian" has been used instead. It may be the answer; but for my part I find it singularly unattractive. For my taste it carries too much the flavor of a manufactured term and of a substitute. What I should want is a word which describes the party of life, the party that favors free growth and spontaneous evolution. But I have racked my brain unsuccessfully to find a descriptive term which commends itself."

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

I personally have recovered the word liberal...

and I make a point to cram it down everyone's throat that's in earshot.

I also go out of my way to inform people as to the 'antiquated' (read true) definition of inflation.

One step at a time my friend. Education is the key to victory.

Time for us to redraw our battle lines; the enemy has captured our word and emasculated it.

As an American I cannot leave a man behind. ;)

But in all seriousness, the words are useful for the emotive power that they carry-- ceding it to the enemy is foolish.

Like it says in the quote, it is impossible for a coherant argument to be made in a degraded language.

We're only going to win this thing by converting individuals to our philosophical position-- If we cant even articulate our position, how can we convince individuals of its correctness? How can we even educate them as to what it is?

Language is the highground-- we cannot let them take it, or they will have the power to frame the entire debate.


Hayek himself gave up on the word "Liberal."

Aye, but I'm young, idealistic, and Hayek is right about one thing: 'Liberal' sounds infinitely better. There is a lot of history in that word-- and reclaiming it provides a link with the Classical Liberals, whom we derive our philosophy from. It helps provide a feeling continuity-- it sets us up as heirs of a long dead creed as opposed to a bunch of uppity trouble makers.

Then prove that you have a natural or moral right to

own yourself. If you're just going to posit it then what follows from that is also just posited.