Actually, it does challenge your claim that rights are determined by a majority of society, rather than God-given. As I alluded to, your take doesn’t seem to be consistant with my Merriam-Webster (Ninth New Collegiate; and just now, I doublechecked in my unabridged ((Merriam) Webster’s Third New International Dictionary) definition for “right” in this context. Indeed, the latter indicated that a right was a thing of justice; it is not negated just because an injustice is done.
You said that it’s usually the sheep/people too lazy to think for themselves who believe that rights are intrinsic. If you didn’t mean for it to be taken as a slap in the face to those (including believers in God as the source of rights) who believe rights are intrinsic, then I submit that you phrased that poorly.
To be sure, strictly speaking, no one has rights except God, who created everything; we mere created beings have what He has graced us with. But within the context of this debate, I’ll stick with the argument I’ve made.
I concur with the founding fathers and the enlightenment and their use of the word “rights.” Most everyone here does too. Your inability to work with the common definition is your failure and your problem – not ours. It makes it incredibly difficult to communicate.
Smoking pot is a right that has been violated by our government. It is not a “good.” It’s an “evil” (probably most of the time) that individuals have a right to based on the fact they own themselves and have a right to decide for themselves what to do with themselves. Society is merely stopping its rights violations in this area.
But the universe doesn’t care. So what made him wrong?
So an impact on the health of society is the deciding factor in good and evil? So an individual is judged by his impact on society.
If I apply this thinking:
Perhaps Hitler was the ultimate good, lifting his society out of difficult times, and then committed the ultimate evil as he made terrible decisions that led to the fall of his Reich. He is to be judged as “good” because his intentions were pure however.
And he violated no one’s rights – as we at this site, Republicans, Libertarians, many Democrats, the founding fathers and Enlightenment thinkers understand them.
That a right is vulnerable to the aggression of other men or the capriciousness of nature does not mean it is not a right. It’s not something you can hold in your hands or sense, but it is something you hold by virtue of existing. Without the aggressive intrusion of other men or natural disasters, our rights are something we simply have. While rights are not tangible, we have our lives, our liberty and what we can make of them. They are intangible, yet they may be taken by other men, the condition of our liberty, our lives, may be altered by the aggression of other men. The founding fathers, I, most of the folks here, many Democrats and others believe those rights are worth preserving – which coincidentally is good for society.
Edit: I’d like to add that Thomas Jefferson wrote that the purpose of government is to secure those intrinsic rights not to grant them. A bunch of his contemporaries agreed with him.
No he’s really not. You could deny him the “right” by attacking him, and the moon could crash into the earth and deny him that right. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it, and it doesn’t mean it’s OK to attack him for entertainment purposes.
Your flourishing-cooperative-society “rights” could ensure that attacking him for entertainment purposes is “good” if it raises the morale of most of society. On a practical level, your definition of “rights” (which is not share by most of us except for liberals who want to justify capriciously declaring healthcare a right) is truly scary.
Koresh and Weaver (and, presumably, Finicum) “resisted” the feds to preserve their rights. Weaver “won” his case, though it cost him the life of his son and wife, and Koresh was killed by those very feds. What’s your point?
By the way, CSB, if society is the arbiter of rights on the basis of contribution or harm to society, is it then morally sound if society gets to decide who lives and who dies on the basis of their ability to contribute? Or do we toss out the mentally and physically handicapped as Hitler wanted to do? It seems to me to fit what I get the impression is your presentation of a productivity yardstick. If so, why? If not, why not?
You really can’t make a distinction between “rights” enumerated by a group of people and things that are “right” based on moral criteria?
Ok, see, you recognize the distinction right here.
The government, which has been given authority by (some of) the people have defined peoples rights. You claim that the government has violated this right and then go on to say that it’s not right.
See what you did there? Exactly the same distinction I’m making. “rights” and what is “right” are not always the same. However, if the group wants to define something as a right they can, even if it’s wrong.
That’s a good question. Here is where people need to try to convince others to do the right thing.
A Christian might say that god says that murdering other people is wrong.
A Humanist might say that Hitler was wrong because his actions lead to the pain and suffering and death of millions of people.
The Christian has to convince others that god exists and that god values human life. The Humanist has to convince others to value freedom from pain and suffering and that pain and suffering is bad and it’s better when we agree that we have the right to be free from those states.
In either case, if you convince someone that they shouldn’t harm others because a god says so or you convince someone that they shouldn’t harm someone because causing pain and suffering is wrong, other peoples belief that causing you harm comes from the number of people that believe either idea.
Hitler didn’t believe in a god (or he believed that god saw his actions as just) and he didn’t care if he caused pain or suffering.
Hitler convinced a lot of people that he was right and lots of Jews died for it.
Let’s say that a society believes that it is “good” for society if each family plucks out the eyes of it’s first born child. Maybe they believe that because they do this because they believe the sacrifice leads to more rain and makes healthy crops.
Now, I’m sure you and I would agree that’s horrible, so when deciding what is “good” for society and what is “bad” we need to ground those ideas in something more concrete.
We know that pulling the eyes out of children has no effect on the rain. The task would be to convince that society that eye plucking and rain aren’t correlated. In this case education about how rain works might be the way to help end needless suffering.
Thus, I think your statement is true, but we’d need to see if we can agree what makes a “healthy society” (see this is where we get back to trying to convince each other of what is right). I would give examples backed by evidence. For example, a society where 1 out of every 4 people is blind won’t be as capable, or productive (all other things being equal), as a society where people aren’t blinded on purpose.
Do you really believe that? I don’t.
So was what Hitler did right?
Do Chimps have rights? They exist.
Sure, and none of that changes or contradicts anything I’ve said.
If you can convince a plurality of others that the statement you made is something they should believe, then they will extend you rights based on that belief.
Yep, declaring rights are intrinsic is a way to change people’s perceptions about how they feel about rights. If people believe that then they are more likely to believe that you have rights.
Still comes down to how many people believe these concepts. Let’s say you are right, and “rights” are intrinsic. What difference would it make if no one else believed it?
So if you want to claim that rights are intrinsic, knock yourself out. Practically speaking, the rights you enjoy come from others around you who believe in rights for others beyond themselves.
No. I did not. It is a right. A government agency infringed on that right. You have a right to do wrong. “Right” and “wrong” are not how the founders justified rights. Just because a government or an individual violates our rights does not eliminate the existence of those rights.
Your argument seems to say that if a government does not recognize a right, You seem to conflate rights with “right” and “wrong” based on a society’s sense of “right” and “wrong.” What the founders did was say that if society thinks you’re wrong, it is inappropriate for the government to stop you. They went on to say that the government exists to secure those rights – against individuals and other agencies that may attempt to violate those rights.
[quote=“csbrown28, post:348, topic:60347”]
That’s a good question. Here is where people need to try to convince others to do the right thing.
[/quote]So it comes down to this: “Please Mr. Ax Murderer. Please don’t ax me.”
To the Christian: I don’t believe in your god. Go fly a kite.
To the humanist: So what? Millions dead? I’m not, Now go fly a kite. Besides, Hitler convinced a lot of people. The Jews died for it. The universe doesn’t care. Why should I?
Your idea and my idea of a healthy society might be radically different. Your model (and the existing model in practice) demands I comply with the majority’s values. Mine and the founders demands that you live your life as you choose without violating the rights of others – i.e. killing them or imprisoning them or taking their stuff. In your model, when you’re not among the majority, it sucks to be you. In mine and the founders, you decide and cope with the consequences of your choices.
You know I don’t. I believe people have rights, but based on the subjective rights (and moral) framework you propose, I cannot comprehend why you would care. I’d love to hear why you don’t.
Murdered millions? So what? He convinced a bunch of folks it was cool to do it. No one had rights. There is no good and evil. I know, I know, you said there is, but you also said the universe doesn’t care about rights. Does it care about good and evil? Define good and evil. Right and wrong. Is it a majority vote? Then Hitler was good.
No. He violated the rights of millions. It also was wrong by my moral standard.
Oh, dear. Who will build the roads?
Not much if the aggressive force is overwhelming. You have your life and your liberty until someone uses force against you. You defend them if you can.
It made no difference for the Jews who were gassed – and no good argument in your world as far as I can tell why this was wrong.
What if no one agreed with you about right and wrong? What does it matter?
Why isn’t the following statement your answer?
The universe provides no direction. There is no good or bad. There is only what you want to do, what you can get away with and what you convince others is the case.
The Left have only one agenda in redefining “Rights” to mean nothing more than the majority opinion; they are furious that our system places the Constitution ABOVE any particular manifestation of government that forms after its ratification.
They want to eradicate the Rights proclaimed in the Constitution but their struggle is always the reality that the Constitution restricts the government; this has forced them to create imbecilic doctrines like the “Living Document” method of interpretation and decades of eradicating truth from the education system; yet the truth stubbornly hangs around.
They see the Constitution and inalienable rights as the chief barrier to their agenda of Tyranny “for our own good”.
So let’s just get to the core of this argument FJ, BJ, Rt FC and PapaD.
Are rights given by a god or are rights something that humans agree too? Well, as I said, rights are an extention of our values and the moral systems that arise as a reflection of the values we hold.
I think there is a problem with the idea of a “moral lawgiver”. Maybe you (any one of you) can help me figure out where I go wrong in this belief.
Let me start with a simple question.
Why is something like honesty “good” and dishonesty “bad” from [EDIT:] from the point of view of a person who believes in a god as a moral law giver?
(I’ll be happy in my response to answer the question meself, but I’d like to contrast it with answers given).
And, just so you know, if you’re wondering if I believe if a god exists, the answer is, I don’t know. I am agnostic with respect to a god. This conversation doesn’t dispute the existence of god, only that a god cannot logically be the foundation of morality.
Understanding morality is really at the foundation of all the other conversations we’re having. Once we get through this, we can work our way back to the responses you’ve all given me.
Thanks in advance for indulging me with a conversation.
Well, now that depends. Jehovah or the God of Israel, Allah (the Arabic name for the God of Abraham…used by most Moslems), Jesus or Christ (used by many Evangelical Christians who declared Yeshua equal with the God of Israel), or Yahweh (the unpronounceable name which really has no vowels…YHWH), and Father God (for many non-Evangelical Christians who prefer this name for the God of Israel). The prophet, Moses, who actually experienced the voice and character of God while on Mount Sinai also was given the name I AM WHO I AM…as the name of this God that we call Creator.
So why did the founders choose the word “Creator” rather than the God of Isreal?
Evangelicals have tried to re-write history and claim that America’s most well known and well-spoken founder, Thomas Jefferson to be an unabashed Christian, just like they are. But Jefferson’s own writings say otherwise.
From TJ’s own words:
Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
-Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789 (Richard Price had written to TJ on Oct. 26. about the harm done by religion and wrote “Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?”)
These are just a sample of many. So no I don’t disagree with the Declaration, I just don’t share your idea of a Creator. Jefferson believed in a Creator and he believed that “I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”
And yes, I don’t think rights come from a god, regardless of what qualities and properties you believe your god has. It’s a matter of logic and I’d be happy to have that conversation with you if you will only indulge my questions.
If god is the source of right and wrong and what is good, is good by god’s declaration, can god declare that dishonesty is “good”? If no, why?
If God is the creator of everything, God gets to write the rules. Why wouldn’t he.
Really, it’s the ultimate version of your position on rights. Since He created everything, He obviously has the power and “a right” to do as He will, like a majority of a society.If God exists, from your perspective, it certainly is logical that He is the foundation of morality.
Yes, because He created the universe and all its rules, from physical to spiritual. Does the bowl argue with the potter?
You answered your own question very well. Add to that the argument for natural law, which makes the most sense from a secular perspective. Consider that your society is primarily concerned with positive rights, which by necessity infringe upon the sovereignty of individuals, their “negative rights,” which is simply a description of the individual’s default condition, natural condition (natural law). It continues to be the individual’s condition until you attack the individual either for your own gain or for society’s gain. Societal rights may literally deny the right to life to individuals. Societal positive rights are nothing more than whims, and we’ve see how fickle society in the most recent presidential election. Obama to Trump! lol
I really like this quote. Could say this about mot things.
You seem to disagree with the Declaration at its core, which is the unalienable rights of humans, negative rights, defined as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The corollary to that notion is that a state must exist to protect those rights, which many will tell me in support of your position that anything more than anarchy violates my negative rights and so I must agree that rights stem from society.
In that sense, you and they are sort of right. Yes, without a state, I can assert my rights against aggressive individuals and capricious societies and lose. Hence, we recognize and agree on rights and defend them as a group. It is, I think, the most effective way to defend our rights – theoretically. Problem with the state, even a limited state, is someone comes along and asserts that rights must be defined by the group that defends them (otherwise they would be meaningless and rendered moot) and therefore that group can violate my rights to the benefit of other individuals or “society.” I think that’s where we are today. We no longer accept that certain things, like self-ownership, the right of one’s self to one’s own body, is subordinated to whatever group manages to get itself in charge. It’s kind of a messy little circular trap.
I’ve asked a few relatively intelligent people, here and in the physical world, “Who owns you?” They had difficulty answering. It’s very confusing to me. We as a society are doing something wrong.
From a practical perspective, all of us should want to defend natural law and the concept of negative rights. The other kind is too costly unless you wield power or are somehow in some special favored class.