Here’s the part that’s hard for people that think that rights need a concrete source, especially the idea that for any system of rights to work, the source must be external to us. The argument is that if rights aren’t a concrete metaphysical concept handed to us, then each person can simply create their own concept of what is right.
As I’ve argued several times, there are lots of social structures that already exist where the rules are created and agreed upon but are not external to us. They aren’t concrete, they aren’t given, they are created.
Stop lights as an example. You come to an empty intersection and you can see you could easily cross without any risk. Why don’t you? Can’t you just assert that red lights don’t apply to you? Isn’t stopping bad for you if the intersection is clear? Why should society impose this rule upon you making you less efficent than you could be if you just decided that the rules don’t apply to you.
Because you know that the subjective concept of stop lights only works if everyone does it. You also know that the imposition upon you to stop actually makes your travel more efficient because without traffic lights chaos would ensue and the possibility of being harmed in a traffic accident increases.
So you abide by the social agreement of stop lights. No one had to hand this concept down to you, it’s a purely social convention that exists because if results it produces, but it only works when virtually everyone agrees.
Increase efficiency when measuring the system as a whole as district from individuals that might benefit from a chaotic system thus making society overall more efficient, even if it imposes on individuals.
It decreases the possibility of harm when (most) everyone adheres to the rules.
This is why when we see people callously run red lights people react violently because that increases the potential for harm, plus it’s just unfair, we follow the rules, shouldn’t everyone?
Rights are no different. They are social conventions that we agree to in order to achieve certain goals.
I’d argue that in Russia, China, and WWII Germany, they had severely limited rights (and some still do today).
The point is, the source for rights is how effective they are at achieving the goals of a free society whatever those goals are.
If those goals become something malevolent, like genocide then obviously there exists a contradiction. My guess is that Hitler valued his freedom, thus taking rights away from others creates a contradiction that is easily exposed and one much of the world understood and rose up in opposition to defeat (the social consequence of not valuing the rights of others).
Rights don’t exist independent of others and as such saying that you think that rights apply only to you, I’d argue that’s not a right. That’s a desire, a want, but it’s not a right.
If you were all alone, the concept of rights wouldn’t just be a waste of time, it’s something that wouldn’t even occur to you to ponder. It is only in the context of others that rights exist.
Would you waste your time explaining to a bear about to disembowel you that you have the right to go free? No, of course not. You can only negotiate your rights with people who are willing to contemplate the consequences of actions and the capacity to empathize.
Do you want other people to harm you against your will? (I’ll assume no…)
How best do you think the goal of avoiding harm can be accomplished?
I’d suggest that the concept of mutual rights exists because people understand that mutual respect of rights is one of the best ways to achieve the goal of being free from harm. Society develops a culture of rights and creates institutions to enforce rights and society as a whole benefits.
The other option is to rise to the position of supreme ruler so you can define what rights everyone has. I think America was founded on the idea that fighting over power and the capacity for a small group to decide the rules for everyone else was something the founders wanted to get away from.
Here’s where the real disconnect is.
Just define a handful of rights you think we should have.
Then tell me why you think that we should have those rights.
Whatever your definitions are there are quantitative and qualitative reasons which can be measured with respect to goals. The only question is, how do the rights you assert affect others? How will the rights you assert affect society?
So for instance.
You beleive that everyone should have the right to private property. There are qualitative and quantitative ways to measure the effects of such a right. If the result is positive and society benefits, then the experience should tell us that private property is good.
Now let’s say that you believe you should have the right to steal from people with red hair. How do you think that will work out?
Again, in simple terms imagine playing the game of Checkers and telling your opponent that you should get to go twice in a row, or move backward, how do you think that game will end?
Apologies if that wondered a bit, I’m still working out how to communicate this idea.