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Rights, what the heck are they?!

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filc Posted: Sun, Mar 21 2010 5:59 PM

Rights, what the heck are they?!

This is not meant to be a formal critique, only a casual discussion on the meaning of rights. This thread is NOT about child slavery, nihilism, or things related. Though I will touch on those subjects briefly, if a discussion spawns relating to those topics I ask that you keep it OT specifically regarding the concept of rights.

In the past year a number of very controversial topics have risen revolving around the concept of rights. However no one ever stopped to question; what specifically are rights? Has anyone here provided a clear and distinct definition from a libertarian point of view? In some cases people felt that rights were nothing more divine permissions ascended from above. In other cases, people on this forum, argue that rights are granted by legal authorities, that laws create rights, and not the other way around.

As a result many of the arguments presented have been previously built on erroneous definitions of rights. Many of which whose definitions are not at all consistent with libertarianism.

I offer an alternative definition. I contend that rights occur naturally, praxeologically, and are a necessary consequence for living in a scarce world. My argument to everyone here is as follows. Today there is no clear definition of rights and because of this people have built a myriad of nonsensical arguments that only logically follow from their own pet definitions. The Wikipedia page on rights also concludes as follows.

 It has been used by different groups and thinkers for different purposes, with different and sometimes opposing definitions, and the precise definition of the concept, beyond having something to do with normative rules of some sort or another, is controversial.

It's amazing that so much discussion about rights goes on, while no one has ever stopped to wonder if the people they are arguing carry the same definition. The alternative definition I present below would generally be accepted in almost all ideological frameworks but most importantly is entirely consistent with libertarianism and stems directly from Praxeology. The definition however would be in direct conflict with ethical nihilism and could potentially have significant conflict to the philosophy of owning other individuals, slavery. I will touch on those briefly but I don't want those topics to be the root of the discussion.

These idea's I am about to present may have already been defined elsewhere by an Austrian that I have not yet read. I am guessing, but I have materialized much of this information second hand via discussions amongst local friends who are heavily read in HHH. So Hoppe may have already described something similar to this and I know that these ideas will show to have a link to argumentation ethics. If someone has already presented something like this I would appreciate it if anyone could provide me the material where it is explained.

The Definition

I have felt for a long time that people assign far too much weight to the word rights, when in actuality its concept could be astoundingly simple. Rights have nothing to do with divine powers or legal authority. Because of the over emphases on the word people cringe, evade, and in general assign a greater amount of value to the word "rights" than it deserves. I feel that a great amount of conflation has been involved which has made rights seem complicated where it need not be. I am going to present a simple definition below that will explode numerous fallacies, a neutral definition that, at least at the surface, does not necessarily need to be revoked.

Consider the following.

Rights: A claim to action. A right is a claim to action.

Now stop and consider for a second the simple, yet powerful link the definition has to praxeology. Human's act, we know this axiom to be true, but in what manner do they act and to what extent can they act with the material world?

How are rights identified? How do we know someone has a claim to action? How do we know someone has more of a claim to action than his neighbor? Is this claim granted by some mystical authority? Is there some level of reasoning necessary? Perhaps. Consider the case where a man simply wiggles his big toe by his own free will. At this primitive level a claim to action has been made and it is assumed, it becomes self-evident. It is self-evident that this man evidently had the capacity to claim the ability of moving his big toe. He has in this sense the right to move his big toe, as the toe is in his physiologically possession and capacity. The toe can only be moved by his will and brain power alone. At the base the definition shows how human action works in its most primitive forms, and shows where the most primitive claims to action are derived.

Human action in and of itself confirms the individual's claim to action over one's own person. It confirms the concept of self-ownership. If the man moved his toe by his own free will it becomes assumed that he owns himself, and had the feasible ability to do with it as he pleased. It confirms his claim to action over other people's claims to controlling his big toe. If I, instead, asked the man to move his finger only he can choose to comply, he has the very first claim to that action. He decides the manner of action his finger will take, not me. Likewise only I myself have first claim to the actions involved in my body. These very primitive forms of actions show a level of assumed rights that is, the primitive claim to action. It is assumed you possess the ability to choose whether to take action, or inaction. You make these decisions because only you individually own your body. This becomes an example of an assumed right, an assumed claim to action.

Speech, and Argument

For those who are familiar with Hoppe's argumentation ethics I believe this definition is entirely consistent. I formulated it somewhat from that line of reasoning. If you are arguing with someone it is assumed you had a right to, or ability, to voice such an opinion. It is assumed that your opinion carries some weight, at least in your opinion. It is self-evident then that you claimed the ability to express your opinion on the matter. In the process you're making it obvious that you claim a right to express such opinions and that you believe your opinions should be taken into consideration with some degree. In the very act of arguing you assume that you have the capacity to do so, that you somehow have a claim over the dispute at hand as opposed to someone else. Otherwise there would be no need to argue in the first place. By arguing with someone you admit that you are an individual with something to gain or lose. You are claiming the ability to action, a right.

Complex Rights

With that foundation it becomes easy to understand complex rights, or complex claims to action. An example of a complex right may be private property. If we assume that all rights are nothing more than simple claims to actions than this fundamental mechanic will help us decide who has a claim over scarce objects for which duration of time. This is how we decide who has a claim of action over scarce objects. From there we build the framework of interpersonal trade and ultimately capitalism.

With that said our definition is expanded on. It started as simple claim to action, but can result in a claim to property, occupation, employment, contract, or anything under the sun for that matter as these are all variants of human action. If we consider the facts of reality that we live in a scarce world it becomes apparent that there must be some mechanism from which we can ascertain who has a valid claim to occupy scarce resources over scarce time. In other words, who has a claim to a specific action or set of actions. This is why rights, or claims to actions, are necessary. The reasoning for such structure is due to the fact that:

  • We live in a scarce world
  • We have a limited amount of time
  • We must occupy scarce objects over time to satisfy desire

This is why rights, or claims to actions, are necessary consequences to the natural defects of the world we live in.

Other Ideologies, and where they differ

Now I believe that mots ideologies would at first glance agree with the definition I created, but going beyond its primitive form they would take different routes. Let me explain.

Let's assume I own a house, how would we know what the norm would be for the conduct of action in my house. From the original definition, a claim to action, we can employ whatever method of logic, or reasoning, we desire to decide who else to allow into my home. A socialist may decide to share the house, a fascist may employ slaves, a capitalist may rent out his space. The reasoning's and methods behind the action do not change the fact that RIGHTS are nothing more than a specific claim to action. That claim will obviously change from ideology to ideology.

Keeping it consistent with libertarianism however we can take the definition even further. Not only is the definition entirely consistent with libertarianism and praxeology but we can build codes of conduct for claims to actions that are non-contradictory, something other schools of thought have a hard time of accomplishing.  The libertarian definition of private property rights naturally flows directly from this concept, a claim to action.

Consequences

Nihilism

If my definition is accepted then the very act of posting on this forum defeats the underlying point of ethical nihilism. You assume the ability, and capacity of posting on this forum. You are in essence assuming the right to post here. When you argue on this forum you're making a self-evident claim to that right. A plethora of assumptions are made when you post on the forum, some of which are ones just mentioned. When you post here all you have done is practiced your capacity to make a comment on these forums. You have practiced your rights, that is all.

Human Ownership, Slavery

The concept of human ownership is self-defeating in and of itself. The reasoning becomes clear when we understand the difference between property, and economic actors. Property cannot make claims to action. A rocking chair cannot arbitrarily stand up and claim a right to be rocked at a specific time each day. For if the chair did this it would have demonstrated that he had a prior claim to his actions. He would have shown to have been a self-owner all along. Owning that chair up to that point would have been in error, as property simply cannot wake up and cease to be property.

Property cannot make claims to action. Not in the past, not in the present, nor in the future. If in any one of those cases property is capable of making a claim, even if in the distant future, than it is not property at all, but an economic actor.

It is entirely impossible to truly own another human, even if they submit themselves unto voluntary slavery. They are only doing so by their own free will and not directly under the control of master. A rocking chair by contrast does not grant permission to its master to rock. The chair simply just rocks, at the will of the master, as if it were an extension of the master's body. A person has a first claim to action of their body, only they can choose to comply with their master or suffer the consequences. The act of complying though does not prove that the man is property; it further proves that he is a man of free will and for whatever reasoning has decided to comply. Whether it be out of fear or some other form of reasoning...

So we must never forget a very clear distinction between what is property, and not property. Property cannot make claims to action, ever. This is why property has no rights.

Legal Positivism

The very idea that rights are granted by some legal authority is circular to the core. I don't think I need to expand on this unless someone actually wants to try and defend it. The only way a single point of authority or collective authority could ascertain who has a greater claim to action across all human actors is to assume exists an omniscient being. Or if you concede that no omniscient being exists then legal positivism is as always arbitrary.

Conclusion

Rights are nothing more than a claim to action. When we stop assigning erroneous value's to the word we may find our own arguments becoming more consistent with themselves. People need to go back and review the foundational roots of their arguments and really consider whether or not they understand what they are advocating. Rights need not be a complex controversial word, not even amongst contested ideologies. The word at its core is simple and neutral. Rights are nothing more than a claim to action. Whether the claim is determined as an assumption, or is proven via logic and reasoning is irrelevant. The type of logic used is irrelevant as well; nothing refutes the fact that rights are nothing beyond a simple claim to action.

 

 

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Legitimate claims on property.

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filc replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 6:21 PM

JosephBright:

Legitimate claims on property.

I would say rights don't always necessarily have to do with property, but that property does derive from rights, that is a claim of action over a specific material object. Does that make sense?

To say that rights only deal with claims on property misses out on things like speech and other non-tangible things. Does that make sense?

 

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Bert replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 6:53 PM

I see rights as negative rights.  I feel that includes the right to be free from any type of aggression, coercion, and oppression.  That includes yourself, as well as your property (which yourself is included - you are your own property).  Those are the only rights that I see one has.  All other "rights" that are granted to you by a higher authority are not rights, just an illusion.

As long as private property exist, you have rights.  Once private property is disregarded, what "rights" do you have?

To go deeper, you have the right of free movement (should not be blocked or force in your way transporting yourself) as long as property is respected.  I feel the right of free movement goes into the right of free trade, that the ability to make, produce, buy, and sell should not be hampered.  Your property and the transactions it involves should be respected (for example the right to bear arms, property and the transactions that accompany it should not be invaded).  You have the right to speech of any kind as long as property is respected (people can say offensive speech should not be protected, but what's offensive can be subjective, and if they are not forced to listen/read/see, they are not harmed).  The right to your health and life (should not be harmed), and for an added bonus, the pursuit of happiness.  I think your ability to progress should not be hampered by force or aggression.  You should be free to live, consume, produce, and prosper, at the expense of no one except when it's mutual and agreed upon with the parties involved.

That's how I see rights.

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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filc:

JosephBright:

Legitimate claims on property.

I would say rights don't always necessarily have to do with property, but that property does derive from rights, that is a claim of action over a specific material object. Does that make sense?

To say that rights only deal with claims on property misses out on things like speech and other non-tangible things. Does that make sense?

Would rights exist if there was a superabundance of goods in the world? In the garden of eden, there would be little use for rights, or legitimate property claims, since everything you needed was magically provided for you. In a world of scarcity, conflicts can emerge over the use of these limited goods, and therefore the concept of property comes into existence (as a means to resolve disputes). Even in the garden of eden there would exist some property rights since your human body is itself a scarce resource. The question then becomes, "who has the legitimate property claim over your body?" The answer is that agent which homesteaded your body first, your mind, has the most immediate claim to it. Since you own your body, you also have legitimate claim over unclaimed resources that you mixed the labor of your body with; they become your property. To try to state otherwise would be a contradiction, because you would then be saying that someone else owns the faculties of your self-owned body. To sum up, human rights are property rights. There certainly exists no such thing as a "right to free speech" except on your own property, or the property that others let you use. In the same way that you can not aggressively co-opt someone's printing press and insert your speech in their next newspaper run, you can not trespass upon someone's private property and "exercise your freedom of speech" unless you are permitted to do so by the property owner.

 

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filc:

JosephBright:

Legitimate claims on property.

I would say rights don't always necessarily have to do with property, but that property does derive from rights, that is a claim of action over a specific material object. Does that make sense?

To say that rights only deal with claims on property misses out on things like speech and other non-tangible things. Does that make sense?

The definition of property includes in ones own person, so, my posting and talking is my property in action.

Now to your OP.  That's how I would understand rights.  It's not to be as complex as some have made it out to be.  I will add, logic is on the side of natural rights.  Yet in an open system here's the catch.  Action is axiomatic.  The claim to that action isn't axiomatic beyond a certain point, maybe.  I'd have to think on this.  For instance special pleaders try to interfere with that right all the way to death, literally, ie. murderers.  The only counter force to a claim on rights, as well as ceteris paribus or Newton's first law, are interferences.  This makes none of these three irrelevant, obviously, but special pleaders exist in an open system that is human society, ie. aggregates of individuals, so the mechanics are open to interferences, due to the human spirit, ie. free-will, choice, negative liberty, axiom of consciousness, etc....  I mean the axiom of human action can be called into question by a special pleader, so, ceteris paribus the right to an action exists, and the claims to such acts simply become extensions into tangible goods thereby the system under question becomes more complex compared to realizing this in a singular person.  So politics, law, etc... are unintended consequences of spontaneous actions between human individuals.

So the only hitch in rights or anything logically realized, ie. even that which is self-evident, are special pleaders.

good post

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Stephen replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 7:18 PM

filc:
Rights, what the heck are they?!

You don't have the right to ask this question. Stick out tongue

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filc replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 7:23 PM

 

Thanks Bert, do you have anything specifically with my concept above that you would disagree with? I mostly agree with you, I am just describing a general framework.

Property rights would exist within the scope of "A claim to action". But not all rights have to deal with economic goods or tangible goods as you mentioned above.

JosephBright:
Would rights exist if there was a superabundance of goods in the world? In the garden of eden, there would be little use for rights, or legitimate property claims, since everything you needed was magically provided for you. In a world of scarcity, conflicts can emerge over the use of these limited goods, and therefore the concept of property comes into existence (as a means to resolve disputes). Even in the garden of eden there would exist some property rights since your human body is itself a scarce resource. The question then becomes, "who has the legitimate property claim over your body?" The answer is that agent which homesteaded your body first, your mind, has the most immediate claim to it. Since you own your body, you also have legitimate claim over unclaimed resources that you mixed the labor of your body with; they become your property. To try to state otherwise would be a contradiction, because you would then be saying that someone else owns the faculties of your self-owned body. To sum up, human rights are property rights. There certainly exists no such thing as a "right to free speech" except on your own property, or the property that others let you use. In the same way that you can not aggressively co-opt someone's printing press and insert your speech in their next newspaper run, you can not trespass upon someone's private property and "exercise your freedom of speech" unless you are permitted to do so by the property owner.

Yes I agree entirely. Can you be more specific with if you agree with me or disagree with me in my OP? To re-state something I posted above which you just confirmed..

filc:

. The reasoning for such structure is due to the fact that:

  • We live in a scarce world
  • We have a limited amount of time
  • We must occupy scarce objects over time to satisfy desire

This is why rights, or claims to actions, are necessary consequences to the natural defects of the world we live in.

Thanks for posting guys.

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filc replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 7:29 PM

Thanks Wilderness, from the very basic form "A claim to action" we can go in any direction we want. Property rights, civil liberties, economic liberties, ect....

I just want to have a very basic fromwork from which to build on. Property rights just logically flows from the framework I described above.

As far as pleaders, and those who infringe on rights. Sure they are acting, but as with all complex rights they have to show logically that they had a greater claim to someone else's body in murder then the actual owner of the body did.

So that is why I wanted to make a distinction from primitive rights, which are more often then not self-evident, than that of complex rights which deal with interpersonal social things.

The above gentlemen are correct that if we lived in a world of super-abundance much of what we had in the way of rights would be unnecessary. Still I believe it was you, or someone, brought up a good point that YOU ARE in fact STILL scarce. You, your own person, is not superabundant so those primitive rights still exist. I strongly agree to this. If things were all super-abundant, including our selves, well I can't even fathom what that would mean! hehe..

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Bert replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 7:38 PM

filc:

Thanks Bert, do you have anything specifically with my concept above that you would disagree with? I mostly agree with you, I am just describing a general framework.

I haven't figured out if there's anything I disagree with yet.  I agree in a way that a right is a claim to an action, that you claim yourself as property, you are acting when involved with producing and consuming, you are spreading ideas, etc., and those actions should not be infringed upon.

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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filc:
Thanks Wilderness, from the very basic form "A claim to action" we can go in any direction we want. Property rights, civil liberties, economic liberties, ect....

I just want to have a very basic fromwork from which to build on. Property rights just logically flows from the framework I described above.

As far as pleaders, and those who infringe on rights. Sure they are acting, but as with all complex rights they have to show logically that they had a greater claim to someone else's body in murder then the actual owner of the body did.

true, but then they wouldn't be special pleaders anymore, ie.  the logical fallacy of special pleading. 

Now here's my first dabble with applying the terms oaken law and iron law:  Natural rights are oaken laws, as opposed to iron laws, and Newton's first law is an oaken law, as I mentioned some of this above, but being an oaken law compared to an iron law doesn't make it any the less important.  It's significant to note that human society is open and thus spontaneous which follows along with the supposition of AE's individual redescription of the world, ie. human action.  The oaken and iron law naming is simply a category function.  I picked these terms up in this paper.  They were not the highlight of the article but were part of the explanation of the paper in total.  Here's a brief excerpt to give some meat to this explanation:

"The final question about exact laws to be raised is concerned with what
Menger meant when he wrote that those laws hold without exception. I will
approach this question by borrowing the distinction between ‘iron laws’ and
‘oaken laws’ from Armstrong (1983, pp. 147-1 SO). Iron laws ‘tell us that, given
certain conditions, some further state of affairs is necessitated ‘I...] no matter
what further conditions are added. If it is a case of [non-probabilistic]
necessitation [...I, then the law issues in an exceptionless uniformity‘ (ibid.,
p. 147). On the other hand, ‘if N(F, G) is an oaken law, then all that is entailed
is that for all x where interfering conditions are absent, if x is F, then x is G
(ibid., p. 149). But, as a matter of fact, the relation between F and G typically
is interfered with and, consequently, oaken laws do not result in exceptionless
uniformities.
It might seem that all alleged economic laws are oaken-the
ceteris paribus
clause attached to them never holds-and that Menger’s claim that exact laws
hold without exception is exaggerated.
" - Maki [as a side note:  Maki goes on to propose

a revision to Menger's saying that exact laws are "exceptionless uniformity" but rather do 

hold exceptions and thus are oaken laws, not iron.  Also I looked up Armstrong's book

on this and of courseit's not for free on the internet, so, maybe I'll pick it up one day, maybe

not but it is aninteresting supposition of his.]

filc:
So that is why I wanted to make a distinction from primitive rights, which are more often then not self-evident, than that of complex rights which deal with interpersonal social things.

The above gentlemen are correct that if we lived in a world of super-abundance much of what we had in the way of rights would be unnecessary. Still I believe it was you, or someone, brought up a good point that YOU ARE in fact STILL scarce.

Yes.  non-scarcity is a non-actual possible world.

filc:
You, your own person, is not superabundant so those primitive rights still exist. I strongly agree to this. If things were all super-abundant, including our selves, well I can't even fathom what that would mean! hehe..

me either...haha

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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filc:

 

Thanks Bert, do you have anything specifically with my concept above that you would disagree with? I mostly agree with you, I am just describing a general framework.

Property rights would exist within the scope of "A claim to action". But not all rights have to deal with economic goods or tangible goods as you mentioned above.

JosephBright:
Would rights exist if there was a superabundance of goods in the world? In the garden of eden, there would be little use for rights, or legitimate property claims, since everything you needed was magically provided for you. In a world of scarcity, conflicts can emerge over the use of these limited goods, and therefore the concept of property comes into existence (as a means to resolve disputes). Even in the garden of eden there would exist some property rights since your human body is itself a scarce resource. The question then becomes, "who has the legitimate property claim over your body?" The answer is that agent which homesteaded your body first, your mind, has the most immediate claim to it. Since you own your body, you also have legitimate claim over unclaimed resources that you mixed the labor of your body with; they become your property. To try to state otherwise would be a contradiction, because you would then be saying that someone else owns the faculties of your self-owned body. To sum up, human rights are property rights. There certainly exists no such thing as a "right to free speech" except on your own property, or the property that others let you use. In the same way that you can not aggressively co-opt someone's printing press and insert your speech in their next newspaper run, you can not trespass upon someone's private property and "exercise your freedom of speech" unless you are permitted to do so by the property owner.

Yes I agree entirely. Can you be more specific with if you agree with me or disagree with me in my OP? To re-state something I posted above which you just confirmed..

 

filc:

. The reasoning for such structure is due to the fact that:

  • We live in a scarce world
  • We have a limited amount of time
  • We must occupy scarce objects over time to satisfy desire

This is why rights, or claims to actions, are necessary consequences to the natural defects of the world we live in.

Thanks for posting guys.

 

There really isn't anything that I terribly disagree with in your original post. I just think you rephrased the standard argument in an uncommon way. Action and property are deeply intertwined, so this isn't unexpected. If I were to change anything, I would just amend your definition of rights slightly:

A claim to action that does not violate another's claim to action.

Property rights are implied in any case, which is the root of the matter.

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filc replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 7:54 PM

JosephBright:
A claim to action that does not violate another's claim to action.

The reason why I wouldn't call it that is because that is what would be disputed, a dispute of rights. If two party's are claiming the right to act over the same resource then some resolution must occur. One party has a greater claim then the other. There would be one method or another used to reconcile the issue.

My post is not an attack on rights, or property rights. It's an attack mostly on legal positivism, nihilism, and slavery.

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filc:

JosephBright:
A claim to action that does not violate another's claim to action.

The reason why I wouldn't call it that is because that is what would be disputed, a dispute of rights. If two party's are claiming the right to act over the same resource then some resolution must occur. One party has a greater claim then the other. There would be one method or another used to reconcile the issue.

My post is not an attack on rights, or property rights. It's an attack mostly on legal positivism, nihilism, and slavery.

I know you aren't attacking property rights, because what you are saying wouldn't make sense without them. Are you trying to redefine property in terms of action?

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filc replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 8:23 PM

JosephBright:
I know you aren't attacking property rights, because what you are saying wouldn't make sense without them. Are you trying to redefine property in terms of action?

nah I don't think property needs an re-defining. My beef was the arbitrary assignment of rights. I want a solid framework when pertaining to rights so people can operate on the same grounds. As far as property goes, we know that someone is making a claim to occupy a resource, we can then employ various mechanisms from there to decide who has the greatest claim.

My biggest contention though was people who say that 

A) Property rights don't exist(Nihilists)

B) Property rights only exist as a benefit of the state, and that without the state there would be no property rights and

C) Slavery, that people can somehow not be self owners.

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filc:

JosephBright:
I know you aren't attacking property rights, because what you are saying wouldn't make sense without them. Are you trying to redefine property in terms of action?

nah I don't think property needs an re-defining. My beef was the arbitrary assignment of rights. I want a solid framework when pertaining to rights so people can operate on the same grounds. As far as property goes, we know that someone is making a claim to occupy a resource, we can then employ various mechanisms from there to decide who has the greatest claim.

My biggest contention though was people who say that 

A) Property rights don't exist(Nihilists)

B) Property rights only exist as a benefit of the state, and that without the state there would be no property rights and

C) Slavery, that people can somehow not be self owners.

I think for the most part, libertarians are pretty good about the concept of rights. As for everyone else, (the statists you want to convince) I think the way you formulate rights might confuse those who are unfamiliar with praxeology and libertarian ethics, rather than engage them on the same grounds. I think it is better to stick with a simple definition (property rights) rather than try to explain a more intricate one. As for your troublemakers:

A) Ask these people bluntly if it would be okay to stab them in the chest and appropriate their heart for your own uses, since their philosophy doesn't seem to have any inhibitions against that.

B) Give these people a copy of The Law.

C) Explain to them the concept of original appropriation and the body as homesteaded property.

 

Have you read The Ethics of Liberty? I think I remember a very good chapter on human rights as property rights somewhere in there. Worth taking a look.

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Found it on the website: http://mises.org/daily/2569

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filc replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 8:52 PM

JosephBright:

A) Ask these people bluntly if it would be okay to stab them in the chest and appropriate their heart for your own uses, since their philosophy doesn't seem to have any inhibitions against that.

B) Give these people a copy of The Law.

C) Explain to them the concept of original appropriation and the body as homesteaded property.

It's ironic but those 3 points are for people on this forum.

JosephBright:
Have you read The Ethics of Liberty? I think I remember a very good chapter on human rights as property rights somewhere in there. Worth taking a look.

I am excited to say that my local book reading club has placed this next on our list. :)

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filc:

JosephBright:

A) Ask these people bluntly if it would be okay to stab them in the chest and appropriate their heart for your own uses, since their philosophy doesn't seem to have any inhibitions against that.

B) Give these people a copy of The Law.

C) Explain to them the concept of original appropriation and the body as homesteaded property.

It's ironic but those 3 points are for people on this forum.

JosephBright:
Have you read The Ethics of Liberty? I think I remember a very good chapter on human rights as property rights somewhere in there. Worth taking a look.

I am excited to say that my local book reading club has placed this next on our list. :)

You'll enjoy it very much. I hope you guys read the NYU version with the introduction by Hoppe. It's terrific.

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Conza88 replied on Sun, Mar 21 2010 9:43 PM

"Liberals generally wish to preserve the concept of "rights" for such "human" rights as freedom of speech, while denying the concept to private property.[1] And yet, on the contrary the concept of "rights" only makes sense as property rights. For not only are there no human rights which are not also property rights, but the former rights lose their absoluteness and clarity and become fuzzy and vulnerable when property rights are not used as the standard." - MNR

..!.

Also; What Libertarianism Is - Kinsella

"Consider the universal status of the ethic of liberty, and of the natural right of person and property that obtains under such an ethic.

For every person, at any time or place, can be covered by the basic rules:
• ownership of one's own self,
• ownership of the previously unused resources which one has occupied and transformed; and
• ownership of all titles derived from that basic ownership -either through voluntary exchanges or voluntary gifts.

These rules -which we might call the “rules of natural ownership”- can clearly be applied, and such ownership defended, regardless of the time or place, and regardless of the economic attainments of the society. It is impossible for any other social system to qualify as universal natural law; for if there is any coercive rule by one person or group over another (and all rule partakes of such hegemony), then it is impossible to apply the same rule for all; only a rulerless, purely libertarian world can fulfill the qualifications of natural rights and natural law, or, more important, can fulfill the conditions of a universal ethic for all mankind." - Ethics of Liberty

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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In the most general sense, I would say that rights are useful interpersonal/social norms with respect to the legitimacy of claims that can be enforced or protected through physical violence. Rights are a subset of ethics that apply to the realm of politics, demarkating the sphere in which people may or may not legally act. Rights involves some sphere of autonomy within a social context in which an individual is both free from the imposition of others and free to self-direct their activities, in an ethical equilibruim in which each individual's authority is necessarily limited as to not unduely extend over others.

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AJ replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 12:02 PM

When there is great disagreement on the definition of X, it doesn't really make sense to ask, "What is X?" A word isn't some entity floating out in hyperspace. It's just a string of noises intended for communication, but it can't serve that purpose until there is some semblance of agreement on the definition.

If two people don't agree on the definition of word, it becomes no better than a string of meaningless sounds to the listener. In fact it's worse, because the listener thinks the speaker definitely means X by it, when the speaker really means Y.

To cut past arguments about English diction and get at the underlying concept, simply ask, "What do you mean by X?"

What are rights? What do you mean by rights?  (The only answers that can be rejected out of hand are incoherent or needlessly cumbersome ones.)

It may seem simple and needlessly roundabout, but clearly the rewording is necessary because there is great disagreement on the definition. To start off by treating the word as a Platonic form is a sure way to induce massive amounts of talking past each other. That's what happens every time the issue of rights is raised here, and of course it's even worse elsewhere.

It may also seem as if people do respect and acknowledge each other's definitions, but even if that's true at the start, there is this odd tendency as discussions wear on for people to subtly shift toward viewing words as if everyone who says them must be defining them the same way. It's a basic cognitive bias that has to be constantly kept at bay in order to have a clear discussion.

(So far this is going fine, I think - just a friendly reminder)

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filc replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 12:22 PM

AJ:

When there is great disagreement on the definition of X, it doesn't really make sense to ask, "What is X?" A word isn't some entity floating out in hyperspace. It's just a string of noises intended for communication, but it can't serve that purpose until there is some semblance of agreement on the definition.

If two people don't agree on the definition of word, it becomes no better than a string of meaningless sounds to the listener. In fact it's worse, because the listener thinks the speaker definitely means X by it, when the speaker really means Y.

To cut past arguments about English diction and get at the underlying concept, simply ask, "What do you mean by X?"

What are rights? What do you mean by rights?  (The only answers that can be rejected out of hand are incoherent or needlessly cumbersome ones.)

It may seem simple and needlessly roundabout, but clearly the rewording is necessary because there is great disagreement on the definition. To start off by treating the word as a Platonic form is a sure way to induce massive amounts of talking past each other. That's what happens every time the issue of rights is raised here, and of course it's even worse elsewhere.

It may also seem as if people do respect and acknowledge each other's definitions, but even if that's true at the start, there is this odd tendency as discussions wear on for people to subtly shift toward viewing words as if everyone who says them must be defining them the same way. It's a basic cognitive bias that has to be constantly kept at bay in order to have a clear discussion.

Thanks AJ, good post. I believe understanding each others definition is very important, which is  why I posted this thread. 

It has been a very common practice recently for parties to dispute past one another intentionally remaining ignorant of the other parties definitions. As a result both parties end up attacking ghosts and never fully  understand where their opponents positions lie. 

AJ:
(So far this is going fine, I think - just a friendly reminder)

I'm not sure I understand what this means, forgive me.

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AJ replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 12:31 PM

I don't see much of what I mentioned happening yet, but I figured pointing this out couldn't go wrong. These discussions devolve into semantics in nearly 100% of cases...even when the thread is about clarifying the semantics.

The reason rights discussions in particular end up derailing like that is because many conceptions of rights actually rely on the cognitive bias I mentioned. Intentionally or not, they let the word cover over an incoherent base concept*, which if carefully examined would crumble into nothing. As people begin to sense this, they develop a vested interest in the word being defined a certain "correct" way, and they subtly resist alternative definitions unless this is pointed out. I was hoping to preempt that this time.

*Similar to a certain poster's usage of words like "information" and "data"

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filc replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 12:37 PM

AJ:

I don't see much of what I mentioned happening yet, but I figured pointing this out couldn't go wrong. These discussions devolve into semantics in nearly 100% of cases...even when the thread is about clarifying the semantics.

The reason rights discussions in particular end up derailing like that is because many conceptions of rights actually rely on the cognitive bias I mentioned. Intentionally or not, they let the word cover over an incoherent base concept, which if carefully examined would crumble into nothing.

Well this is why I wanted to have a common ground for all parties to agree on. It seems awfully hard to revoke "A claim to action" since that encompass's nearly all other forms complex rights. 

In the case where people disagree, I would hope that semantical arguments get passed aside. Either you agree that a right is fundamentally a claim to action, or you do not.

Still I understand your point and appreciate your concern.

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AJ replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 12:45 PM

I do think this is more clarifying. Although this problem is like a hydra. People are clear as long as they talk about claims to action, but then someone starts talking about legitimate claims to action...and we have to define "legitimate." Basically, normativity is the origin of the definitional blur, whether it manifests in writing as rights, legitimate/rogue, justified/unjustified, good/evil, moral/immoral, ethical/unethical, or sometimes even legal/illegal.

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filc replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 1:10 PM

AJ:
I don't see much of what I mentioned happening yet, but I figured pointing this out couldn't go wrong.

I suppose it won't happen here. Instead it finds other outlets.

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AJ replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 1:17 PM

Yeah, it's a universal. Spidey seems to be caught in a word web.

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