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November 3, 2012
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What is a Right?

:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Nov 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
This is a serious question, so take some time to think about it.
I'm not asking what your rights are; I'm asking what the definition of a right is.

Where do your rights come from? Why do you have rights?
When you say that you have a right to something, how can you know for sure?

*****

A counter-question to those for which it is relevant:
Do rights actually exist, or are they merely expressions of legal opinion?
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Devious Comments

:iconarcolm:
To understand that you must understand the cicular logic behind right and wrong. Some call it "ying-yang" but i call it creation, balance, choas. Everything has a place.
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:iconbolainmarsh11:
Yes I "partially" agree with the old concept that right is what nature has given to you. But there must be a better definition of "right", which I've not yet found.

[link]
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:icongenstian:
genstian Nov 23, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, the early concept was simple. What nature have given you. The right to life, and whatever you do in it (such as production, family, art, ideas you might have...). Rights was considered absolute and universal. But it was a philosophical thing, it was used as the bases for several constituions, but it's far from the original idea behind it.

Today, we have a weird concept of calling "I have the right to your labor" kinda things. It only exists in peoples mind, the people who are suppose to defend your rights, also violates them, so it can't be called a real legal thing either. Merly a sketchy concept.
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Nov 25, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Do the actions of a society change the fact about whether or not a right is still there?
I'm no so certain that a right disappears merely because a majority infringe upon it.
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:icongenstian:
genstian Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The philosophy, and reasoning behind the natural rights still exists. But this goes into a much deeper question, aga "What is the purpose of the state". In classic liberalism (and branches of this, like objectivism, and to some degree libertarianism) the states only legitimate purpose is to defend these rights, and resolve conflicts among it's citizens.

The problem arise when the state has the power to violate these rights when it sees fit. Some of the US early presidents (like Jefferson) thought that it was the peoples duty to rise up against such a government.

You wouldn't put the mafia to make sure the mafia didn't do anything bad. The same way, you can't put a state that does have the power to infringe rights to defend rights.

So, while the rights may not disappear, there is noone to defend them. Therefore one could ask if they still are rights.
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Nov 25, 2012  Student Digital Artist
"What is the purpose of the state".

We can do that. I was discussing John Locke earlier.

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the states only legitimate purpose is to defend these rights, and resolve conflicts among it's citizens.

I would agree, to an extent. However, I realize that the government often fails to do this, so political institutions are not the only answer.

*****

The same way, you can't put a state that does have the power to infringe rights to defend rights.

But where does sovereignty lie?
Technically, America was never ruled by the people.

But in a true democracy, the people are the state.

*****

Therefore one could ask if they still are rights.

That depends on where rights come from.
If rights come from humans, then human actions can abolish a right.
If not, that right lives on.
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:icongenstian:
genstian Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I would agree, to an extent. However, I realize that the government often fails to do this, so political institutions are not the only answer.
Aye, before the classical liberalism movements of the 1700s and 1800s. We had the anarchist movements that said exactly that. However, the problem is, what if two legal institutions in a non-monopolistic right defense system disagreed? It's one of the key differences between those two.

But where does sovereignty lie?
From a historical perspective, it usually just lies in whoever can survive and defend themselves.

But in a true democracy, the people are the state.
In a true democracy, people doesn't rule over other people either. Like in Athene, policies required no objections to pass. It means that every person got a veto power. Ancient Greece are likely the first place to talk of any kind of rights.

That depends on where rights come from.
Rights is a concept. But every person is born into one state, and can produce with ones hands, think, learn. This is the concept of natural rights. You can not have the "right to education" without someone providing that education, it's not a right of nature, but merely a human concept. Often put in place by force. Living in a state free of force, and having a "right to education" is not compatible with each other.

However, humans have a remarkable power to change nature. And even to adapt arbitrary concepts like countries, kings and so on. History is funny in this sense, people tend to grow tierd of a system that doesn't work, and toss it away, replace it with a system of equal failour, and history repeats itself. Like The british went to war, put the costs on the americans, the americans revolted, made their own country, now that country is bankrupt, and states are at the edge of revolting. Greece is another great example of a country in full revolt already.

Creating some sort of stability is possible, like Lichtenstein, the government have NO power outside the constitution. Held in place both by the publics power to fire everyone with a few signatures, and the courts evaluation of every action. It has such a strong position that the government can't do statistics (such as calculating a GDP) because it's not in the constitution.

It's a good example on how rights can prevail, even if they can include arbitrary, and poor rights (Lichtenstein got both a state church and state education). Yet the strong stable ground it's built on have made it a financial center, and an excellent place to store your money. Making it the richest country per citizen in the world.
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Nov 25, 2012  Student Digital Artist
However, the problem is, what if two legal institutions in a non-monopolistic right defense system disagreed?

A hypothetical situation that only applies if such a right system exists.

From a historical perspective, it usually just lies in whoever can survive and defend themselves.

Do humans have sovereignty at all? True sovereignty, that is?

Ancient Greece are likely the first place to talk of any kind of rights.

When it comes to universal political rights, yes. Athens was the birthplace of political rights.
But there were still unspoken rights that were simply upheld, though not protected by law. These are the rights and values that allowed for the society to begin in the first place.

When it comes to natural rights, however, Greece was a bit behind. Natural rights existed within religion long before they existed within the political institution.

But every person is born into one state, and can produce with ones hands, think, learn. This is the concept of natural rights.

I think there's a bit more to it, but yes, I agree. This is the concept of natural rights.
However, would you argue that there is a distinction between political rights and natural rights?

Natural rights would come before political rights, then. And political rights, if they infringe upon natural rights, are void.

However, humans have a remarkable power to change nature.

Yet who always wins in the end?

the americans revolted, made their own country, now that country is bankrupt, and states are at the edge of revolting.

Yes, it's an interesting scenario, isn't it?

It's a good example on how rights can prevail, even if they can include arbitrary, and poor rights (Lichtenstein got both a state church and state education).

Yet I continue to question whether these are truly rights.

Yet the strong stable ground it's built on have made it a financial center, and an excellent place to store your money.

Wealth is the greatest illusion known to man.
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:icongenstian:
genstian Nov 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Do humans have sovereignty at all? True sovereignty, that is?
It is just a human concept.

When it comes to natural rights, however, Greece was a bit behind. Natural rights existed within religion long before they existed within the political institution.
Aye, but bear in mind that religion was just as stable as todays politics. Gods changed all the time, new stories where written etc. And people where rarely on the same religious side, you had various religious changes all over the place, and those people moved and traded with each other. It wasn't bad. But when some gods tell you that everyone who are inferior to you can be treated as you like, and another say you should show respect for everyone, it kinda clashes. Unfortunately.

I think there's a bit more to it, but yes, I agree. This is the concept of natural rights.
Aye, its more of the key things, throughout the ages it's been a huge philosophical subject. Especially in regards to property, and slavery.

However, would you argue that there is a distinction between political rights and natural rights?
Indeed. But the concept of rights is something a bit more solid that say, regular politics in the majority of the world. Rights are not suppose to change over time. You are not suppose to lose or gain rights. If it changes, it's more of a policy.

Natural rights would come before political rights, then. And political rights, if they infringe upon natural rights, are void.
Indeed. That would be a good good idea. I think Locke purposed something similar to that.

Yet who always wins in the end?
Humans are a fairy young race. We can still destroy each other, or toss ourselves back to the stone age. Or lock ourselves in a totalitarian nightmare. In remember reading a story a while back, I think it was originally written back in the 1700s, where everyone was so afraid of each other that they locked them up into their cities and let the world progress without us for a undefined period of time. At some point in the future, some of them wandered off, and figured that another specie had evolved beyond us. Humanities true progress started just around 6000-8000 years ago. It's not a long period of time.

Yes, it's an interesting scenario, isn't it?
Especially in european history that is something that have repeated itself ever since the the Roman Empire. And it have repeated itself all the way up to today. Even the US have broken apart once before. So it shouldn't come as a surprise.

"Yet I continue to question whether these are truly rights."
Political rights maybe. It still standard more solid than say, political policies. But of course, you can't call the majority of a constitution for natural rights.

"Wealth is the greatest illusion known to man."
Yet it's something we all seek, and it's been the largest motivation for innovation and progress since at least 4000BC. Altho, the example was meant to show that even in today's world where many nations are basically falling apart there are some who have held enough stability to live on.
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:iconroxas1296:
roxas1296 Nov 30, 2012  Student Digital Artist
It is just a human concept.

Perhaps.
Yet even if we assume this, do humans possess the sovereignty that they theorize to exist?

Aye, but bear in mind that religion was just as stable as todays politics.

For the most part. But there were still stable theologies, even if the followers of those theologies constantly drifted.

You are not suppose to lose or gain rights. If it changes, it's more of a policy.

I'd agree with you there.

Humanities true progress started just around 6000-8000 years ago. It's not a long period of time.

And when you compare us to lifeforms of the past, it is likely that our lifespan will be far, far shorter.

Even the US have broken apart once before. So it shouldn't come as a surprise.

Many in the US are skeptical of this. Many of the threats of secession are purely symbolic.
Yet the US is undeniably declining, and not just economically.
We are in many ways paralleling Rome at it's fall. We are destroying ourselves culturally, politically, economically, and religiously.

I would not doubt it if history repeats itself. I'm just expecting it to occur in a way that has not yet happened.

Yet it's something we all seek, and it's been the largest motivation for innovation and progress since at least 4000BC.

It has certainly been a strong driving force, yes.
But some would go as far as to say that all things have essentially revolved around economic progress. They claim that all human interactions are based upon the innate desire to be served, and they therefore claim that money is the key to happiness. They postulate that happiness is achieved through being served rather than serving.

It is this small yet powerful remnant of Marxism that I am opposed to.
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