Comment: Lots of good points, Gene,

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Lots of good points, Gene,

but your main one doesn't work. Rights are derivatives of morality, and do not transcend it. Whatever a person believes "is right" establishes -- in his mind -- what "rights" he and other people possess. That, and nothing more, is the source of "rights."

Morality, the source of our rights, only happens in one place: inside individual minds. It is therefore subjective. Furthermore, morality is not innate; it must be understood, chosen, and applied by each individual. That makes the idea of any "universal" morality a total absurdity. And THAT means the idea of universal ("natural") human rights is likewise absurd.

You can argue -- and I would agree with you -- that some moral systems (notably those that encompass the NAP or Golden Rule) result in views of "rights" which are more harmonious and productive than systems which sanction predatory or parasitical behavior. There very likely IS an "optimal" moral system on which you and I, at least, could agree. But "optimal" does not equal "universal" or "natural." As long as people have free will, some of them WILL make moral choices with which others disagree. "Universal" ain't happening.

Morality is the realm of individual choice and belief -- it is not necessarily, (unfortunately,) the realm of reason and logic. To persuade other people that one particular moral view is superior to others will require something more than mislabeling it "natural."

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