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Human Rights
Posted: 23 June 2011 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Occam sed:

However, if you disagree with my post, you are certainly welcome to present evidence or alternative arguments.

Well.

You have given us claims, not exactly ‘arguments’, and not exactly ‘evidence’ either. That’s not awful, but let’s be clear. To cite Rousseau is an argument from authority - but again, that isn’t bothersome per se. So pardon if I do not give arguments either. I’ll settle for objections and clarifications for now.

[1.a] As individual beings without any society, there are no rights nor freedoms beyond what one can take for him/herself.  [1.b] As soon as a society is formed, the members can define the rules as was done in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The first statement seems materially false: a human being without fellows is a rare beast indeed. Also, it seems manifestly false in practice: if you and your hated enemy are marooned in some lonely spot without hope of rescue, it would seem no real society is present, and you could kill and even eat him without real compunction. Again, this seems to lean too much against the traditional feeling that moral rules and rights apply universally, throughout time and space. Your intuitions seem to go against common intuitions. I’m not a *big* fan of majority rule, but commonality counts for *some* sort of evidence.

And, the ‘as was done’ clause is ambiguous; it entails the framers either lied (they really believed your claim), or they didn’t know their own motives (they believed your claim but it was hidden from them somehow). Both alternatives seem extreme. But I admit, they aren’t logically incoherent alternatives, just absurdly extreme.

In an absolute monarchy a person can be the first born of a king or of a peasant.  They are not created equal . . .
That makes ‘created’ ambiguous. The framers meant by ‘created’ at the least ‘by their very nature, by birth’ (they probably meant created by God, but never mind that part for now.) A king does not ‘create’ anything, he inherits. Monarchy is very conservative in some ways. Your claim also only concentrates on power; a monarch also had numerous responsibilities. Let’s not confuse monarchy with tyranny - ‘strong-man’ rule - in the technical sense. People under traditional monarchies demanded much from their monarchs; maybe you’re thinking of the *modern*, absolutist monarchies of the seventeenth century. Pre-modern monarchies were more like England’s monarchy up to the 20th century. I’m not saying we should go back to any of them, btw - why *shouldn’t* we? The best explanation is that they’re objectively worse than more liberal (in the classic sense) societies. The strong man/weak man claim of Plato’s Thrasymachus won’t explain that.

I agree that we can define all sorts of rights within the structure of the society we create. 

Yes, but: they aren’t *fundamental* or *inalienable* rights. Would it be correct to say that your position is that human beings have no inalienable rights? For example, it is common to say that - in reality - we are free, no-one is *really* a slave or master of slaves. That some people are made to do things other people tell them to do is *called* slavery, but it’s fakery under the traditional view. (Aristotle believed that some people are really ‘slavish’ in nature; not racially so, rather, randomly distributed like stupidity or talkativeness). So your position would be, for example, that weak people don’t have an inalienable right to be free from slavery?

What does happen doesn’t entail what ought to be. That some lord it over others happens; but ought it to happen? history is not always a good guide to morals or rights; still less speculative histories like Rousseau’s.

chris kirk

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Posted: 23 June 2011 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Additions:

I feel I went on the attack in the wrong way, Occam. I did not mean to suggest you’re unamerican if you dont’ buy the reasoning behind the Declaration of independence. It felt like that after i re-read it a day later, and I just want to be clear about it. The D of I just happens to be a rather clear document in the classic liberalism tradition, and the fourth of july was on my mind as well (travel plans).

But!

One bad consequence of the theory of Thrasymachus (justice is ‘the will of the stronger’) is that the weak cannot *legitimately* complain of their bad fate - they can only whinge or bitch about it, and scheme to grab power for themselves. This seems both ugly and not the way people *did* reason about the universal rights of human beings.

So does your position entail that the weak have no *reason* to complain, only causes?

chris kirk

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