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Ethical reaction to a denial of your rights

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Vladimir Ulyanov Posted: Mon, Feb 20 2012 9:03 AM

If someone denies you your rights - e.g. trespasses - do they completely forfeit their own right with respect to you, or not?

For example, is somebody justified in shooting and killing a trespasser?

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Clayton replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 1:43 PM

Not every trespass is treated the same by the law. For example, home invasion is a particularly serious offense because this is frequently a prelude to multiple murder, so the homeowner has every right to resort to the most extreme measures on the presumption that the intentions of the invader are murderous.

But if someone cuts across your property, the same reasoning does not apply. Shooting someone for walking across your property is not generally a valid defense in most jurisdictions. The trespasser must not only be on your property, he must be advancing toward you (menacing). In more desolate areas, such as the old American West, where you do not have a local police force to assist you in forcible removal of a trespasser, you may have the right to menace the trespasser with a weapon (point it in his direction, fire over his head, etc.) If he still does not leave then I would consider that a more serious threat (i.e. that the trespasser is planning a home invasion) and you may be justified in using deadly force at that point.

I would say that the aggressor never loses any of his rights, it's just that he's not in the right. It's not that the home invader "loses his right" not to be shot when he invades your home... he simply doesn't have a right to invade your home and, so, when you shoot him you have not committed a tort at all. In order for you to commit a tort against hime, you must violate some right of his. But he has no right to invade your home without being shot. Therefore, when you shoot him, you are not violating any of his rights and no tort has been committed.

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But are rights not a means to avoid violence. If violence is committed does someone not forfeit their rights because they have rejected reason and nonn-violent resolution.

Also, I believe that the level of retaliation is something that is very important. For example, assuming a fetus had rights, would abortion be deemed an appropriate response to its invasion of the hosts body.

Also, I feel the concept of babies, animals, etc. not having rights somewhat uneasing. It feels very unintuitive agree with this. I can't help but think there is something wrong with it. I mean, how can I support someones right to torture animals. Although this conclusion seems sequitor - and I am aware that through arguing for things such as animal rights, you run into all sorts of contradictions - why do people seem to have a built-in recognition that animals and the like should enjoy, at least, some rights.

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MaikU replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 3:46 PM

Vladimir Ulyanov:

why do people seem to have a built-in recognition that animals and the like should enjoy, at least, some rights.

 

Duh.. because we are animals ourselves?

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(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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Duh.. because we are animals ourselves?

You know what I meant. Things like cows, horses, sheep, etc.

 

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Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Simples!!!

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Malachi replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:24 PM
If someone unwittingly violates your rights, I believe you actually have to educate them so they do not make the same mistake again. This applies to agents of the state, of course, as well as other criminals and must, when possible, precede a violent reaction.
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Wheylous replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:28 PM

I'll point out a few things before giving my answer.

But are rights not a means to avoid violence

Rights are not anything objective and set in stone. Rights are subjective social constructs we come up with. Rights aren't objective.

Many formulations of rights (such as by Hoppe) are based off of the idea that we need to have guiding rules to avoid conflict. Hence, rights are in some constructions means to avoid violence.

assuming a fetus had rights, would abortion be deemed an appropriate response to its invasion of the hosts body.

Assuming rocks had rights, many things would be immoral too.

I feel the concept of babies, animals, etc. not having rights somewhat uneasing.

Perhaps I have not read enough, but I do find libertarian child theory to be somewhat lacking.

I am aware that through arguing for things such as animal rights, you run into all sorts of contradictions - why do people seem to have a built-in recognition that animals and the like should enjoy, at least, some rights.

It's easy to brush away at least this alleged contradiction. Go deeper and deeper down into life and keep asking "does this have rights?" For example, dogs have rights, ok. What about penguins? Ok, they have rights. Lizards? Toads? Crickets? Worms? Nematodes?  Amoeba? Yeast? Harmless bacteria? Where does it end? Do all of these have rights simply because they are living? What exactly is "living"? How come life confers inherent value? When you see this reductio ad absurdum, you realize that the criterion of "life" doesn't confer rights to anything.

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:29 PM

Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Simples!!!

Others? What are others? People? Primates, animals? Defining the line is a bit fuzzy (and arbitrary, if you want to use the Golden Rule as you basis!)

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Malachi replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:30 PM
All of those are others. The Golden Rule works perfectly in every possible situation. Try me.
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Wheylous replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:32 PM

Ah, it seems Clayton covered the issue with his usual eloquence.

Yes, essentially you have the right to "reasonable" retaliation (reasonable as determined in court). You can use increasing amounts of violence if they refuse to exit your property.

Also, the idea that someone loses their rights once they violate yours flies in the face of justice. The purpose of justice is restitution, not destruction.

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:32 PM

All of those are others. The Golden Rule works perfectly in every possible situation. Try me.

You better not step on any rocks!

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Malachi replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:36 PM
Ontology, my young friend. I treat others as I wish to be treated: as fits them and the situation. Rocks, by virtue of their very nature, enjoy supporting things. Humans tread upon things. Simple.
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For example, assuming a fetus had rights, would abortion be deemed an appropriate response to its invasion of the hosts body.

Seeing as the host's body is designed to create a baby- comparing it to a foreign parasite doesn't seem like the right analogy. 

 

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:47 PM

Seeing as the host's body is designed to create a baby- comparing it to a foreign parasite doesn't seem like the right analogy.

Well, I don't think that a rock is a parasite, first of all.

Second of all, we assign rights to humans because of sentience. Fetuses aren't all sentient. Until they are, they are merely a lump of flesh. As such, they belong to the mother (yes, sadly fathers have no say over said flesh).

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Second of all, we assign rights to humans because of sentience. Fetuses aren't all sentient. Until they are, they are merely a lump of flesh. As such, they belong to the mother (yes, sadly fathers have no say over said flesh).

Seeing as the only thing that separates a fetus and a newborn is the actual delivery of the baby- would that mean the newborn is also a lump of flesh? Simple lumps of flesh(whatever that's supposed to be defined as) aren't constantly growing into something that can argue for its rights in the future either. Fetuses certainly move and grow, why can't that be defined as sentience? 

At what point do you decide that a baby is having an experience? Why not assign rights to humans based on the fact that they're human instead of the subjective quality of sentience(since they are "human" rights)? 

 

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Clayton replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 1:16 AM

Animals do not and very young children cannot have rights because a "right" (in contrast to a "wrong") is any course of action which you will be deemed at law to have been in the right in taking and animals and very young children cannot speak for themselves.

As far as how can mistreatment of such beings be prevented, I think you have to think in broader terms than "rights" and "law." The first layer of defense is human decency. For the most part, most people are not anti-social animal torturers. The second layer of defense is public outrage... companies and individuals that engage in mistreatment of animals are likely to be the object of public outrage should it come to be known how they are treating animals. The third layer of defense is lawsuit but it really is difficult to argue that an animal's owner does not have the right to dispose of the animal as he sees fit without appeal to some kind of statutory solution (a cure which I believe is worse than the disease). The final layer of defense is adoption and sheltering (charity).

The reason for being hesitant to grant "rights" to very young children or animals is that, inevitably, someone must speak on behalf of the entity in question, at law. The State is wont to use such legal non-entities as animals and "the environment" as hand-puppets claiming as torts actions that the State simply wants to regulate, such as burning fuel or raising pigs. To take it to the extreme, if we grant Gaia the right to be undisturbed in her eternal repose, we will all lose the right to even walk or stand or lie down anywhere, we will just have to all slit our own throats so our bodies can decompose and stop troubling poor Gaia.

On the other hand, it is important to acknowledge the fact that customary law is much more "practical" and is less tied up with worries about granting rights to non-entities. Mistreatment of animals has always been looked down upon and I can imagine customary law having a blind-spot to assault committed in defense of an abused animal. We should allow the law to use a scalpel just big enough to address the problem but avoid giving it a chainsaw in the form of the State who will then go massacre our rights in the name of Global Warming, whale's rights, and so on.

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Animals do not and very young children cannot have rights because a "right" (in contrast to a "wrong") is any course of action which you will be deemed at law to have been in the right in taking and animals and very young children cannot speak for themselves.

When it comes to humans at least- such as young children being unable to speak for themselves. There are certainly adults that can't speak for themselves either. In these cases isn't it a guardian of some sort that speaks on the behalf of these ones since they can't speak for themselves? What defines speaking for yourself anyway? Is it a certain grasp of human language- or is body language alone sufficient(Like if you try to grasp food out of someone's hand and they instinctually resist).  Just some narrowing down of it would be helpful- or perhaps some examples. 

 

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 6:30 PM

Seeing as the only thing that separates a fetus and a newborn is the actual delivery of the baby

Not what I said.

Fetuses certainly move and grow, why can't that be defined as sentience? 

Bacteria also grow and move...

At what point do you decide that a baby is having an experience?

Neuroscience.

Why not assign rights to humans based on the fact that they're human instead of the subjective quality of sentience(since they are "human" rights)? 

Because then mothers wouldn't be able to stab their own kidneys...

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Clayton replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 6:32 PM

@auction: I think the entire issue boils down to "who gets to speak on behalf of who/what?" because the root problem is the abuse of the privilege of speaking on behalf of others as a means to expand your own legal rights, that is, to grant yourself privilege. The entire legal standing of the modern welfare State is down to this issue. The State says, "I speak on behalf of the poor and needy who have a right to be fed and clothed and, therefore, I am empowered by their rights to violate your rights in your own property and income."

This serves the dual purpose of making it more difficult to point out the conflict of interest because there is really no way to prove that the advocate is benefitting from his actions and making it more costly to combat such legal measures. The State or any legal extortionist is a professional in such matters, that is, they spend a significant part of the proceeds of such legal machinations on inventing clever new arguments and influencing public opinion and legal theory, etc. It's like the ambulance-chasing industry... an entire industry complete with division-of-labor (law schools) springs up and makes the legal parasites ever more efficient at victimizing people under the auspices of the law.

So, it's no trivial matter who gets to speak on behalf of what. This is probably one of the reasons why the Somalis don't have a government: Xeer law only permits a victim or one of the victim's relatives to bring any kind of legal action. No one else has standing to bring a legal action. Since only the victim or a relative of the victim may speak on his behalf, you can't have a "caring" government emerge that goes around suing people to stop them from engaging in non-tortious acts.

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Malachi replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 6:48 PM
Neuroscience
well how much brain activity is significant? Any at all, or a specific amount?
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Wheylous replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 7:09 PM

I happen to not have studied brain science. When do you believe that something gains the rights of a human?

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Malachi replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 7:53 PM
I am not a materialist. I think its wrong to kill a human once the zygotes become one thing. Thats when it becomes a he or she. But I dont want to challenge the premises here in this thread, at least. "rights" are a social construct and we assign them to whomever or whatever we like. Fine. How much human brain activity are you comfortable with terminating? A medical degree is not a necessary qualification for answering this question.
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Wheylous replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 8:45 PM

I presume there is some brain structure that allows us to "feel" and "experience" at a meaningful level. Beyond that, I am not qualified to point to a spot and say "here!"

And why should a zygote have the rights of a human? What if we take a stem cell, remove half the DNA, and inject that of someone else. Does it then have rights? (I might be messing up the medical terms here, but I am probably not too far off target).

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Malachi replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 9:15 PM
meaningful level
meaning requires reference to someone's intellect. If it was meaningful to the adults in question, we wouldnt be having this discussion. Therefore we must be trying to make an intersubjective evaluation between ourselves and the young human in question. In my opinion, by this standard, any brain activity at all is sufficient, as it is less arbitrary. To choose the presence or absence of brain activity is one arbitration, to select a particular amount as significant is another. Parsimony.
And why should a zygote have the rights of a human?
Well it all boils down to values. I value human life. I dont think that people with Downs syndrome are less human or less worthy of life. I dont think that young children are any different from adults, I dont think that old people should be euthanized, and I dont believe in killing humans before they are born. I dont even believe in capital punishment or retributive killings. I think that when people have the caloric surplus and leisure time available to attract someone of the opposite sex, they should do something more productive than fuck like bunnies and slaughter the product. I am not happy with the idea of a woman performing a chemical abortion herself, prior to brain activity, or especially afterwards, but I would not crusade against it or selling the chemicals or whatever. This method is allegedly historical and effective, although I dont claim to even know what herb she would take and I certainly oppose such activity.

the really interesting thing is how quickly abortion becomes clearly, obviously, in-your-face evil when it theoretically could be performed via the use of drugs into the 9th month of pregnancy. No, its much more important to hire a trained assassin with a license from the government to slaughter your fetus in the must disgusting, gruesome manner imaginable. So we can chop up the human remains and...do all sorts of hideous things. Like make vaccines. And inject children with them.

so I think I am standing on rather firm ground when I claim that it is a form of ritual satanic murder sacrifice performed by ordained ministers of the state religion.

What if we take a stem cell, remove half the DNA, and inject that of someone else. Does it then have rights?
Thats a very good question and I think its probably wrong to even perform the act you describe, although I am not qualified to say.

I would get some guys who were really good at seeing auras and a kirlian device from the doctor in russia and do a side by side experiment with a test tube baby and the experiment you describe. The data from the witnesses and the camera would answer your question, in theory, because you would see the soul or you wouldnt.

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