Comment: rights, allowances, privileges, permits

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rights, allowances, privileges, permits

These terms are all similar in how they may be used, but different in designation. Each term is borne from a different subset of terminology, as we mix the terms together their meanings tangle quickly into ambiguity. In many contexts we find the terms interchangeable and are not specifically concerned with which one we pull out of the hat, but when we are in lengthy discussion that literally analyzes what's different about these terms, it's pretty essential that we pick them from our lexical hats very carefully and keep them straight and distinct from one another at all times. It's okay to use two or more in the same sentence, but when we find them as such we need to take extra care to keep track of the nouns, pronouns, subjects, objects, entities, etcetera to which they refer.

Say I wish to grow some flowers in my yard [or smoke crack, or urinate outdoors, or go skinny dipping at the public beach, the private beach, etc.], I ask myself [or not :D], do I have the right to grow fowers in my yard? What does "right" mean there? Am I allowed to grow flowers in my yard? Who is it that would be allowing me? Do I have the privilege to grow flowers? Does not everyone have that right? Is it permissable that I grow flowers? Do I need a permit?

Each of these terms travels a different path. Each question is somehow different. Now let's see what happens when we mix them. Am I allowed the right to grow flowers? What does that mean? Am I privileged with greater rights as the permit approved by the City Council grants me a greater allowance of acreage to grow flowers than my neighbor's permit allows? Everything is pretty clear there as I struggled to keep clear all the terms. The term at the actual heart of the question though, remains unclear. What the hell are rights? With all the other terms though, I did a pretty good job at keeping clear the references to which the terms refer - who is allowing, who is being allowed what, etcetera.

I'm not saying it doesn't make sense, but I sensed impending doom of confusion as I read in your comment [a couple back]...

By "right" I mean, one is morally allowed to do something.

I have no problem understanding this, and I don't disapprove, but it is a red flag to me that things could soon get messy as two of the terms there are being used in the same sentence. The sentence presents a definition, that's great, what could be a better reason to mix terms in a sentence? A "right" is what is morally allowed. We've been wondering what "rights" are, haven't we? Now the mystery has been shifted to the term "moral". Hmm, what is moral? Isn't moral somehow defined by what is right? Hmm, I somehow feel we're closer to the mystery anyway, good move! "Right" in its moral aspect shall be the use of "right" from here on out. That is "good" to know.

One person says...
"Two plus two equals four."

Another person says...
"Two plus two is twenty two."

Who is "right"?

Answer ---> whoever is smiling!

Back to your sentence... "allowed the right"... At this level of simplicity I might just assume I know who or what entity is doing the "allowing". Here I might assume, being sort of a natural rights kinda guy, that God is the entity to which you refer that is engaged in the act of allowing, or perhaps I could think of my conscience as that which allows, or Judge Napolitano might say my humanity allows me the right. Perhaps I assume this and move on. Later I am confused as I struggle in coming to find that you were not speaking so generally, but you were thinking of the City Council in your head when you used the term "allowed". Yes, this entire paragraph is silly and hypothetical, but I'm simply illustrating where most discussions fall apart, and the points at which we must take extra care of precaution.

I enjoyed the Shayne Wissler interview. I shared many concerns with him as you did. I particularly enjoyed his saying, "Semantics are important!" I also noted later on when he refered to something as "permissable". I can only assume, for he did not make perfectly clear who or what was doing the permitting. As a libertarian I am always keenly aware of the use of such terms. "Who claims the right to permit me?!!!" These are the most important points of semantic concern to a libertarian.

I've lost brevity. Time to reclaim it...

If one is committing an act that is not violating the NAP against another, would you agree you have a right to commit that act? That is what I mean by "right."


I accept that's what you mean by "right", and I think I have a pretty good handle on your working definition. Personally, I am careful to not use the term so broadly. I can, and I will, but before I do I must express to you the specific essential foundation upon which I build any broader sense of the term. I shall attempt that after I take another break.

The opposite of this - aggression - is always a crime.

"Crime" too heavily suggests broad judicial concern. It does not belong [at least yet] in basic moral discussion. "Wrong" needs to be established before "crime" enters the scene. "Rights vs. Crimes" takes quite a leap. "Rights vs. Wrongs" is semantically appropriate. "Crimes" is a subclassification of "wrongs". It's unfortunare that we don't have an equivalent subclassification of "rights". We often simply use "rights" as a subclassification of "rights", and that challenges our notion of the term "simply". :D

. -um, don't know if this was such a good idea

I'll cut to the moral chase. Let's focus on the one term of the four that you have so helpfully pointed out as the one concerned specifically with morality. What are "rights"? More basically for now, what is "right"? At the risk of making biochemists cringe, I shall compare the term "right" with the term "sweet". At the risk of being too general here I'll also compare the word "right" with "sugar", "rights" to "sugars". "Rights" and "sugars" are often used quite generally. Honey is sweet. Jelly is sweet. Watermelon is sweet. They are are all sweet as they all bear sugar. "Sugar" may sometimes specifically mean crystaline extract from sugar cane or sugar beat. "Right" is often used to mean something specific in the speaker's mind, but let us for now rid ourselves of those specific references. Candy and grapes are both sweet for containing sugar. I may engage what is right as I am allowed or permitted. Sugar is not the only content of candy and grapes. I also may engage that which is wrong as I am allowed or permitted. Upon choice of either in either context, the sweet sugar is what I seek, my intent or goal. I might seek a permit. I might seek grapes. Grapes might not be in season. I might be denied a permit, but the permit is not actually what I seek. I might choose to eat candy when grapes are unavailable. I might choose to plant my garden without a permit if a permit is not available. The permit is not what makes it "right" for me in the first place. I have already decided a garden is "right" for me, before I found out that the City requires me to get a permit.

I don't know why I wrote that last paragraph, but I have an inkling that it will come in handy on down the line.


The simplest way I can think of to make clear what this "moral" thing is, is to fix the language, to place moral terms in the simplest of context and build out from there. We have grown sloppy in using the term "right". It's almost become slang. We have become comfortable in abstracting it with figures of speech. It has been loosed from its foundation. As a moral term "right" can only refer to one of two things, a person(conscious being) or his/her behavior. I could very well have said just one thing as the second is the initial abstration from the other. The term's use is monolithic, and at it lowest level are you and I [preferably me :D].

I am right.

The second non-ambiguous use of the term is an abstraction of the first.

Eating food is right. (or) It is right for me to eat food.

Notice the injection of the pronoun "It". It is a figure of speech that satisfies some mysterious urge in me to wax axiomatically, to objectify my experience. It begins to flirt with ambiguity, but no one misunderstands what I mean as I say it that way. Here's the crux, the most crucial thing to stay on top of as we ride up the monolith. When I say "It is right for me to eat food", I am actually saying "I am right upon eating food". "I am right to eat food" is actually a slight abstraction. When I claim that an action is "right", I am claiming that during my engagement of that action or in the wake of doing that action, that I am, was or will be right. "Right" ultimately refers to my state of being. "Love is right." Who wouldn't agree? But that simple abstraction is founded on my experience that "I am right as I love or am loved". Should the term "right" be used in a way that is not translatable to that basic form, it has parted from its monolith of reality and become essentially meaningless, a purely abstracted and unsubstantiated hypothetical.

By the way, "I am wrong" purely and simply means "I am not right".

Okay, now that we have proper context, what does "right" actually mean?

Stay tuned..?