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A Question for Speciesists

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Clayton replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 10:15 PM

You missed the first steps: a word is proposed, then it's acknowledged, THEN it's spread.

Sorry, but this just isn't true. Not that truth matters to a logical nihilist such as yourself. Steven Pinker lampoons this conception of language as legislated by agreement here.

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gotlucky replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 10:22 PM

I'm using objective to mean "observer independent".

In that sense, the meaning of words is both objective and intersubjective, but it has nothing to do with how many people call a table a table. It has to do with observing that people use the word table in that particular manner - it doesn't matter if it's one or one thousand. Intersubjectivity is a further distinction, and is useful for making sense of the world. The word gay means homosexual in most contexts, not because it's an inherent meaning, but because the subjects using the word are using it in the same way.

I see that you are not using objective to mean inherent, so we were talking past each other. Many people seem to use objective to mean inherent, so that is why I assumed you were using it that way. My mistake.

Granted, when we get into more complex words than simple nouns, things get much more complicated. However, I do not subscribe to this theory of language as "meaning-by-contract". Meaning is not the result of a contract between the speaker and listener and meaning is not conveyed in anything like the sense in which, say, I can move a plate from my hands to your hands or photocopy a piece of paper and hand the photocopy to you.

Right, no one person controls the meanings of words for other people. Language is an example of spontaneous order. The meaning of a word can be independantly observed, but the manner in which it originates and is used is intersubjective also. An example of this on a small scale is if a group of friends use a word in a nonstandard way (or even make it up entirely). We can observe that they use it in this specific way, but it is used in that manner in the context of those particular subjects. Another example might be the word "googled". People just started using it. If I used the word "googled" to someone who didn't know what google was originally, then it would be meaningless to them. It would have the meaning I meant, and that can be independantly observed, but it would depend only upon me. Once they understand what I mean by it, then there is intersubjective agreement.

I can see that we were talking past each other.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 10:55 PM

In that sense, the meaning of words is both objective and intersubjective, but it has nothing to do with how many people call a table a table. It has to do with observing that people use the word table in that particular manner - it doesn't matter if it's one or one thousand. Intersubjectivity is a further distinction, and is useful for making sense of the world. The word gay means homosexual in most contexts, not because it's an inherent meaning, but because the subjects using the word are using it in the same way.

I see that you are not using objective to mean inherent, so we were talking past each other. Many people seem to use objective to mean inherent, so that is why I assumed you were using it that way. My mistake.

Yeah, I hate that usage of the word "objective"... it's like a sissy way of trying to say absolute, while pretending not to be claiming absolute. If you mean absolute, just say it, don't beat around the bush and half-ass it with the word "objective."

I would state the case slightly stronger than you have. We can separate "percentages" in regard to observing human behavior into three categories: 0%, 100% and everything else. If no one does X, then you can safely say that X is (objectively) not a part of human nature. If 100% of everyone does X (yes, there are some things that 100% of all people without exception do... think carefully), then you can safely say that it is definitely a part of human nature. If it's just some percentage of people between 0% and 100%, then it may or may not be a part of human nature. Answering the question is more difficult but not impossible. It may be just a matter of being more specific, such as asking whether all males do X, and so on. Furthermore, it might be useful to concentrate only on representative humans (i.e. those not suffering from a major disease/dysfunction). And so on.

So, we can say that it does matter whether it's one or a thousand. For example, "English speakers" has a fairly definite meaning and we can ask questions about this category of people. "What percentage of English speakers agree on the meaning of the word 'table'?" It's 100%. You might say, "Ah, but a troublemaker might purposely misreport his understanding of the word" but that's just a methodology issue... perhaps you need to do the experiment blind or double-blind to get around observer problems.

Language is just a category of human behavior (human nature). Hell, we can say "humans speak" - it is part of human nature to speak. This is an objective fact about language!

Right, no one person controls the meanings of words for other people. Language is an example of spontaneous order.

I would say it is the canonical example.

The meaning of a word can be independantly observed, but the manner in which it originates and is used is intersubjective also. An example of this on a small scale is if a group of friends use a word in a nonstandard way (or even make it up entirely).

I think it can be argued that there is no other way that words originate. Maybe in the modern era you might have some spontaneous multiple-origination of words but the core of all languages was doubtless constructed from zillions of little "in-crowd" words, some of which caught on.

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I was considering my original inquiry (if any human cannot initiate life-threatening or life-ending force against any other human because that human has a natural right to life, how is it that the same force against a non-human animal species is permitted when these animals are just as alive as humans are?) and I thought I'd step away from the linguistic debate and give my knee-jerk reaction/answer, seeing if this might step us in the right direction:

Perhaps Neodoxy is correct: rights don't truly exist and instead they are mere human construction; purely subjective and notwithstanding. This would be why lions eat zebras, birds eat worms and we eat chickens, each case rarely (if ever) resulting in guilt or regret. The animals taste good, issuing a dopamine response and reinforcing the behavior, and the nutrients obtained from eating these animals help us live, grow strong, etc. I would say it is certainly natural to kill and eat other animals; practically all natural, living beings survive by this principle.

But is what is natural also ethical? How many times have you been beaten at something, say in a game of Monopoly where it was natural to slam the board and maybe even threaten your opponent(s) in some way, whether by initiating force or saying something out of pure emotion. It seemed natural to do so, but was it ethical? Most would say it was not.

I don't see a necessary correlation between nature and ethics, which leads me to believe that ethics are--indeed--about human interaction, and without interacting with other humans, ethics wouldn't exist. Granted nothing exists in its Platonic sense as someone mentioned a long time ago in a different thread I read recently (like mathematical Platonists who think numbers hold property somehow, somewhere, almost as in a state of Heaven), and while rules hold no physical property, the consequences to these rules are behavior by other people that we attribute a certain linguistic design to; for instance, if a man punches me for cheating at a Poker game, I can say I was punished for cheating, when physically speaking, all that happened was I threw down some cards and a man punched me. Perceived rules lead to ethics.

As far as rights are concerned, or more specifically "natural rights," perhaps we need to take the time to define what rights are. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a right as a noun means "a moral or legal entitlement to have or do something." Let's say for our purposes, a right is a moral entitlement to have or do something. (There's no need to make the distinction between morality and legality with this community, thankfully!) Taking this as our baseline, we could equally as well say, "Do moral entitlements exist at the moment of conception, viability or birth?" (This is not intended to start an abortion debate, and I recommend we avoid that dilemma if we can!) I, being an admirer of Classical writers such as Locke and Bastiat, say that yes, the moment a person exists (hence, the moment he or she or it (as in a fetus without gender) becomes alive, the said individual has a right to life, liberty and private property by way of production or trade. Granted the physicality of the circumstance is limited for such an individual (due to being inside the womb or, in the case of being freshly born and unable to use the body to produce anything except brief, gross-motor movements and cooing), the right still exists as a potential: for instance, I don't have to purchase anything from anybody or produce anything, but it would most certainly be in my benefit to do so in the long run, and regardless of what I produce or whether I produce at all, I have the right (or the moral entitelement) to have or produce that property.

I believe that the majority of us in here are talking about different aspects of the same topic. Those who believe that rights don't exist are, in a Platonic sense, absolutely correct: they hold no physical property and therefore we must logically deduce that rights exist in the subjective realm (hence, they're purely mental constructs). However, as I mentioned before, words are mere symbols. One can just as easily say my neighbor doesn't exist because words don't truly define anything and the term neighbor does not equal the person I'm viewing as my neighbor because neighbor could means virtually every person on the earth. It is an arbitrarily-assigned title.

However, those that maintain that rights do exist are, in a sense, absolutely correct. Just as the Poker player, I mentioned earlier, might cheat according to arbitrarily established rules, gets punched when he cheats against those same rules, he could easily say he was punished. I fear, though, that the members in this thread are discussing the same issue: one is saying punishment doesn't exist while others, like me, say that indeed the punishment exists, and we're getting hung up on how we can define something rather than the end result: someone was punched in the face.

Where this takes this thread, I have no idea. I just wanted to give my unbiased, knee-jerk response to the original question after having read the prior posts.

What say you, friends?

 

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Absolute = irrespective of context.

 

Objective = mind-independent.

 

They are different terms.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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z1235 replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 10:26 AM

Clayton's is the closest to my stance in this discussion.

Property rights are evolved social norms, just like language. Eating 1yr old babies for holiday dinner is another possible social norm (out of infinitely many others) that could have evolved except, for one reason or another, societies that may have practiced it simply didn't make it -- that branch on the social evolutionary tree was simply a small, short one. 

Given that none of us can choose the social evolutionary branch on which we exist (i.e. the evolved social norms prevalent in the acting humans around us), each of us has a choice: (1) study/discern/acknowledge these norms and adjust my behavior so that my process of using means towards reaching my ends benefits (from) the same process of others, or (2) disregard these evolved norms, do whatever I want whenever I want to do it, and suffer the consequences accordingly. The choice between (1) and (2) is also a part of the evolutionary process. Humans who become good at (1) are likely to flourish more relative to the ones who, for one reason or another, pick (2). 

Hence, someone that strongly valued eating 1-yr-old babies for dinner wouldn't last very long on our current social evolutionary branch, but may have been doing ok on some other branch, while it lasted. 

 

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z1235:

Clayton's is the closest to my stance in this discussion.

Property rights are evolved social norms, just like language. Eating 1yr old babies for holiday dinner is another possible social norm (out of infinitely many others) that could have evolved except, for one reason or another, societies that may have practiced it simply didn't make it -- that branch on the social evolutionary tree was simply a small, short one. 

Given that none of us can choose the social evolutionary branch on which we exist (i.e. the evolved social norms prevalent in the acting humans around us), each of us has a choice: (1) study/discern/acknowledge these norms and adjust my behavior so that my process of using means towards reaching my ends benefits (from) the same process of others, or (2) disregard these evolved norms, do whatever I want whenever I want to do it, and suffer the consequences accordingly. The choice between (1) and (2) is also a part of the evolutionary process. Humans who become good at (1) are likely to flourish more relative to the ones who, for one reason or another, pick (2). 

Hence, someone that strongly valued eating 1-yr-old babies for dinner wouldn't last very long on our current social evolutionary branch, but may have been doing ok on some other branch, while it lasted. 

Then you must admit that you have no right to liberty. Is this correct?

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z1235 replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 10:37 AM

thetabularasa:

Then you must admit that you have no right to liberty. Is this correct?

Yes, correct. I already asked you this on the first page:

Do you have it? If yes, where did you get it from and where do you keep it?

 

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z1235:

thetabularasa:

Then you must admit that you have no right to liberty. Is this correct?

Yes, correct.

Do you consider yourself to be a libertarian?

Do you consider taxation to be wrong?

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z1235 replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 11:00 AM

thetabularasa:
Do you consider yourself to be a libertarian?

Yes.

Do you consider taxation to be wrong?

Depends what you mean by "wrong". I have discerned ownership (in self and property) to be a robust social norm across humanity. Another norm is the prevalent preference for voluntary interactions. Austrian Economics has further taught me how these norms are fundamentally important means toward the end of a flourishing human society. Given the above and given my subjectively valued end of living a flourishing life in a flourishing society, I consider initiation of aggression (including taxation) to be "wrong", in the sense that it is conflicting with my ends and, I believe, with the ends of (most of) my fellow humans. 

 

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Clayton replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 11:28 AM

Then you must admit that you have no right to liberty. Is this correct?

I think this is a confused way of using terminology. A "right" is a corollary of law. Hence, rights-language is just a way of talking about law-as-it-is, or law-as-it-ought-to-be (criticism).

Liberty is a very fuzzy term that means different things to different people. Basically, it is a feeling that there is an absence of constraints. I don't see how these two domains cross. Rights in law do not necessarily have anything to do with how constrained people feel. In fact, one can argue that's half the reason our laws are so screwed up: people do not feel constrained by laws that they ought to feel constrained by.

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hashem replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 11:53 AM

I like to see everyone coming together and acknowledging that rights are normative concepts. It should be emphasized that as concepts, they do have a very real physical existence within brains to the extent they're acknowleddged.

OP has basically acknowledged this. He has, therefore, already answered z1235's question in a roundabout way, but I'd like to see him answer it directly. "Do you have a right? If yes where did you get it from and where do you keep it?"

For what it's worth, my answer would be that if I accept and value whatever social norm, then I have that "right" as a concept in my brain, and it has utility only to the extent that others accept and value it (in other words, just because it's calledsocial norm doesn't actually mean that every member of society has adopted it). I would have got it from my society, and I would have no choice about where I keep it (as my concept, it stays in my brain).

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 12:04 PM

@hashem: As always, you continue to obfuscate and generate line-noise in the discussion. Pointing out that an abstract noun is a concept is like saying "Everything we say is just words!" OK, so what?

 if I accept whatever social norm, then I have that "right" as a concept in my brain.

No, social norms have nothing to do with individual acceptance. That's the whole point in calling it a social norm. It's not a private morality, a private "way it oughtta be", it's a description of how people in a society react to different behaviors.

Cultural etiquette, for example, has nothing to do with the assent or dissent of individuals within the culture to the etiquette. The etiquette is what it is and exists independently of the influence of any individual. Etiquette is only one kind of social norm, there are many others.

Rights have nothing to do with what is going on inside the brain of an individual. Rights are a corollary to law; rights-language is just another way to talk about the law, what it is and what it ought to be. Law - the most rigorous, consequential and formalized of all social norms - has nothing to do with individual acceptance of it. Law - like language, like etiquette - is what it is irrespective of what any individual thinks of it. Thus, rights are what they are irrespective of what anyone thinks of them. This doesn't mean that criticism of social norms is impossible but much of it is fruitless... like proposing that English-speakers switch from using the modern English verb "are" to the Old English verb "art". Good luck with that.

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If you can demonstrate inherent contradictions in non-libertarian positions I think you can sideline the whole debate largely, on whether rights exist or not.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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hashem replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 12:17 PM

@Clayton

obfuscate and generate line-noise in the discussion.

You're projecting. Obfuscating the issue is what you're doing. You argue in red herrings, what else would that do besides obfuscate things.

No, social norms have nothing to do with individual acceptance.

Speaking of obfuscation...as I've come to expect from you, this root of your objection is a red herring, and a non sequitor anyways. The appearance and evolution of norms within societies are utterly dependent on individuals. Not only is this is elementary meme theory, but elementary austrian theory. But more importantly it's a red herring, because my point was that IF I acknowledge and value a norm, THEN I have it as a right; and as a right, a subjective, prescriptive, normative concept, it has a very real existence in my brain.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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hashem:

OP has basically acknowledged this. He has, therefore, already answered z1235's question in a roundabout way, but I'd like to see him answer it directly. "Do you have a right? If yes where did you get it from and where do you keep it?"

Yes, I have a right to life, and it's from God. Its nature is implicit and indirect; hence, the fact that people should not take my life because I'm alive can be otherwise terms a right to life.

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Clayton replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 1:45 PM

Oh boy, now we're back to rights based on superstition.

You people really don't get it? Rights as a "gift from God" is managed dissent. If rights are a gift from God and we live in a secular (practically atheist) culture, what rights do you have??? None. Oh, and 2+2=4.

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hashem replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 1:50 PM

thetabularasa:
Yes, I have a right to life, and it's from God.

It's still a concept, and it only has utility to the extent that others accept and value it.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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z1235 replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 1:52 PM

Oh boy...

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Clayton replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 2:12 PM

Religion has historically been a limit on tyranny. This is why the State and the church have frequently been at odds with one another. But the most powerful religions today are those that "sold out" and joined forces with the State (see the other thread on this). They promote moral ideas that are diametrically opposite of those originally taught by the religions from which they are derived.

When people said "we have these rights from God", it was in answer to the King's men who said, "we have these rights from the King." In other words, the people are saying to the agents of the King, "You assert that the King can overrule the law with his own law. Fair enough. But by the very same token, we assert that the King of Kings overrules the King's laws with his law, which is: thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, and so on."

But once you kick out the props from the popular religion, that is, once you promulgate secular ideals into the culture, you no longer have this argument. I cannot answer the IRS agents at my door: "Oh, so the US government can override customary law with its statutes? Well, I know someone On High who can override the statutes of the US government with His statutes; His name is Jesus and He says, 'Thou shalt not steal' and He makes no exception for the US government." Doesn't work because nobody to speak of actually believes this, that is, this dogma holds no sway in the popular mind.

Because we have given up our original religious communities and have yielded to the secularist monoculture, we have no choice but to refute secular rights-claims on their own terms, that is, without invoking religion. But this is as easy as pie since no one - by virtue of their name or DNA code - has a privileged place in a secular world. We're all equally meaningless, including the US government and its agents. Hence, no one should be afraid to tell the US government and its agents to go to hell. There is no hell, after all.

Instead, we have people cowering to an unspoken, mystically binding moral code in the absence of anything that makes it binding. If there is no God, then moral codes are not binding on you, they flow from your own judgment of the consequences of your behavior. Hence, there is no reason not to stand up and take your place among men as a peer and to tell anyone - however fancy their uniform, or however long and complicated their paperwork forms - who attempts to violate the rights we know we have to go to hell.

But don't try to get me to act like there is a God while the governments of the world rampage around like there isn't one. If they are not afraid of God's judgment in the next life, neither am I... so let come what may, I'm not going to sit down and shut up out of fear that God might dislike something I'm saying, including defending my rights as a human being with dignity and pride. The manipulators want it both ways... they want to live in a world where nobody can point out their godless barbarism but where they can spook everybody with the boogeyman "Oooh, God's gonna be mad you dint pay your taxes!"

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How dare I believe in God? I choose to. Deal with it and move on. I'll be happy to discuss it in a different thread. You atheists adhere to unproven beliefs of your own by way of an argument from ignorance. You claim that since nobody has proved God exists, it's determined that God must not exist. Get it? I agree with Thomas Jefferson and Ron Paul that our liberties come from our Creator, not government. If you don't like the use of the term "God" or "Creator" then consider our rights coming by way of birth. I believe what I believe. Be a little more tolerant if you believe differently.

I've searched the forum and I'm having trouble finding a thread that bashes Ron Paul for believing the same exact thing. Anybody want to completely discredit him and his message of liberty for believing our liberties come from our Creator? By all means, please go ahead; otherwise, being the creator of this thread, I recommend that we get back to the discussion of rights and liberty regarding non-human animal life and not the metaphysics of divinity, as many of you on here are incessantly distracted by. How dare I think differently than the community! Again, deal with it and move on.

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The biggest problem with non-libertarian ethics is that they are rife with contradictions and errors. They cannot even get off the ground without property rights, and are forced to assume them but shroud them under different adjectives, like things belonging to "the people" or "man" in the abstract etc. They also try to justify behaviours that if taken to the interpersonal level would be sociopathic, but it is not surprising, as many of them are envy-driven sociopaths.

I therefore prefer approaches that attempt to demonstrate contradictions inhering in their propositions and putting them on the defensive. Hoppe and de Jasay take this route. Natural rights are all well and good and if you want to put the effort into it, they can plausibly be defended via a revised version of Aristotelian ethics, but I fail to see why the libertarian should be the one to do all the work. We are simply asking to be left alone.

 

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 9:47 AM

thetabularasa:
Yes, I have a right to life, and it's from God.

I personally reject the premise that any supernatural being exists, let alone the god of the Bible.

thetabularasa:
Its nature is implicit and indirect;

I'm not sure what you mean by this.

thetabularasa:
hence, the fact that people should not take my life because I'm alive can be otherwise [termed] a right to life.

I'll go ahead and infer that you define "right to (something)" as "a fact that people should not take the (something in question)". However, I consider this definition to be nonsensical based on my own definitions of "fact" ("an observation of something outside of the mind") and "should" ("is expected"). So my question to you is how you think expectations can exist outside of the mind.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

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Autolykos:

thetabularasa:
Yes, I have a right to life, and it's from God.

I personally reject the premise that any supernatural being exists, let alone the god of the Bible.

thetabularasa:
Its nature is implicit and indirect;

I'm not sure what you mean by this.

thetabularasa:
hence, the fact that people should not take my life because I'm alive can be otherwise [termed] a right to life.

I'll go ahead and infer that you define "right to (something)" as "a fact that people should not take the (something in question)". However, I consider this definition to be nonsensical based on my own definitions of "fact" ("an observation of something outside of the mind") and "should" ("is expected"). So my question to you is how you think expectations can exist outside of the mind.

Autolukos, I kindly informed you in a personal message that I did not mean to hurt your ego/self perception/feelings (whatever term I used) in my prior posts and asked you to not insist on making contact with me on here. I understand your viewpoints may be different from mine, but I must publicly ask again as kindly as possible, please refrain from making contact with me because interacting with you is interfering with my enjoyment on Mises.org. If you insist on emailing me and attempting to antagonize me and continue this pointless, tedious and annoying ego-filled banter, I will let the admins know that you are trolling me, which frankly is juvenile and I do not appreciate, and at this point, I do not see any other alternative other than to report you. 

From here onward, due to your belligerent discourse, I will not respond to you. I believe that at this point, operant conditioning is the best method by which to condition your response, so in ignoring you, I simply, peacefully hope you will refrain from contacting me period. Unfortunately, I realize comments like this seem to be fuel to your fire, so while you may persist for a little while, I want to publicly let you know one last time to please stop contacting me since a private email apparently does not work. It is a simple request that I have politely asked; please respect it.

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dude6935 replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 5:24 PM

Rights are those things that are guaranteed to a rational being by nature in the absence of all possible violations of other rational beings. This is a category of things that exists objectively. This category of things has existed since time began. While my mind perceives this category, it is not required for its existence. Nor is my mind required to create the things which populate the category. My mind simply discovers the rights that already exist. Their only utility is to confer knowledge of what things I am guaranteed in the absence of a violation of my rights by other men. I can now refrain from violating the rights of others and attempt to prevent the violation of my rights.

Obviously my definition of the word "rights" might vary from yours. But nature is the only system that can make any true guarantees. Discussing the "rights" conferred by man seems like a futile exercise to me. Such rights could never be depended on for consistency or for observation.

Really what I am doing is ruling out things that are not guaranteed by nature, and then I say that whatever is left shall be defined as a right. This rules out all possible harm between men. That might be another definition of the word "rights": the system of rules that (if observed) prevents all harm between rational beings.

It believe my method of discovering these rights fulfills that definition of rights. It is possible that other systems of rules exist that can (if observed) prevent all harm between rational beings, but I find that unlikely. 

Rights aren't defined by utility. A right without practical utility is still a right. The tendency of other people to recognize a right is also irrelevant. If a "right" is given by society, it is not a right at all. It is a privilege since it is revocable. If rights are given by God, yet a secularist society ignores those rights, that does not invalidate those rights. It simply violates them.

The OP is about whether or not animals are rational beings. If they are, they have rights. If not, they don't. I can't say for sure if a dog can reason. Surely a dog might one-day evolve to the point of rationality. Will it be easy to say exactly when this occurs, or even in which dog it happens first? I doubt it.

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Clayton replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 5:52 PM

@dude: You are conflating rights and power. While you have an inalienable "right" to do anything with your body which you can will it to do, this isn't what people have in mind when they ask "what are my rights"? Your rights are precisely those things you are right to do, that is, those things which you can justify. The word "rights" has a common origin with the word "right-of-way" and bears a conceptual similarity - the person who was in the right in the case of a collision (conflict) is the person who had the right-of-way (the person who was right).

This is why rights (law, more generally) and morality are inextricable.

Clayton -

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Clayton:

@dude: You are conflating rights and power. While you have an inalienable "right" to do anything with your body which you can will it to do, this isn't what people have in mind when they ask "what are my rights"? Your rights are precisely those things you are right to do, that is, those things which you can justify. The word "rights" has a common origin with the word "right-of-way" and bears a conceptual similarity - the person who was in the right in the case of a collision (conflict) is the person who had the right-of-way (the person who was right).

This is why rights (law, more generally) and morality are inextricable.

Clayton -

Judge Napolitano, in a way very similar to Ron Paul and Thomas Jefferson, sums up rights very nicely here. What is a right, according to Judge Napolitano?

What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity. Thinkers from St. Thomas Aquinas, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II have all argued that our rights are a natural part of our humanity. We own our bodies, thus we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies. So, our right to life, our right to develop our personalities, our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, our right to worship or not worship, our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit, our right to due process — fairness — from the government, and our right to be left alone, are all rights that stem from our humanity. These are natural rights that we are born with. The government doesn't give them to us and the government doesn't pay for them and the government can't take them away, unless a jury finds that we have violated someone else's rights.

I looked on the online etymology dictionary, and I found the verb and adjective form but that's all. If someone could find the actual etymology of the term right as a noun, I'd be much appreciative.

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Clayton replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 6:28 PM

What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity. Thinkers from St. Thomas Aquinas, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II have all argued that our rights are a natural part of our humanity. We own our bodies, thus we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies. So, our right to life, our right to develop our personalities, our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, our right to worship or not worship, our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit, our right to due process — fairness — from the government, and our right to be left alone, are all rights that stem from our humanity. These are natural rights that we are born with. The government doesn't give them to us and the government doesn't pay for them and the government can't take them away, unless a jury finds that we have violated someone else's rights.

This is a poetic way to state our rights but I do not think it is a rigorous statement of rights. What rights do I have in my dealings with a Muslim? After all, he does not even acknowledge the existence of the Christian God. What rights do I have in my dealings with an atheist who does not recognize the existence of any God? Rights as a matter of human affairs can be explained in wholly human language (without resort to theology). In other words, stating that rights come from God implies that cross-religious or atheistic dealings are "might makes right", which is clearly false. Human law does not logically depend on theology in any way.

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 6:33 PM

thetabularasa:
Autolukos, I kindly [sic] informed you in a personal message that I did not mean to hurt your ego/self perception/feelings (whatever term I used) [sic] in my prior posts and asked you to not insist on making contact with me on here.

Please point out just where you asked me in a private message to not make contact with you in the forum. Nevertheless, you didn't actually hurt my feelings, as I've already made abundantly clear.

thetabularasa:
I understand your viewpoints may be different from mine, but I must publicly ask again as kindly as possible, please refrain from making contact with me because interacting with you is interfering with my enjoyment on Mises.org.

Your enjoyment on Mises.org is entirely up to you. But as I said before, I will make contact with you as I see fit. That includes making contact with you both publicly and privately. Do you understand?

thetabularasa:
If you insist on emailing me and attempting to antagonize me [sic] and continue this pointless [sic], tedious [sic] and annoying [sic] ego-filled [sic] banter [sic], I will let the admins know that you are trolling me [sic], which frankly is juvenile [sic] and I do not appreciate, and at this point, I do not see any other alternative other than to report you.

What effect do you expect this to have on me, exactly?

thetabularasa:
From here onward, due to your belligerent [sic] discourse, I will not respond to you.

I don't believe you in the slightest. I think you will respond to me - at least eventually.

thetabularasa:
I believe that at this point, operant conditioning is the best method by which to condition your response, so in ignoring you, I simply, peacefully [sic] hope you will refrain from contacting me period.

I'll be the first to tell you that such "operant conditioning" won't work.

thetabularasa:
Unfortunately, I realize comments like this seem to be fuel to your fire [sic], so while you may persist for a little while [sic], I want to publicly let you know one last time [sic] to please stop contacting me since a private email apparently does not work.

Now you're really just repeating yourself.

thetabularasa:
It is a simple request that I have politely [sic] asked; please respect it.

Make me.

Now why don't you actually respond to my earlier post. I actually wasn't being belligerent there.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

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dude6935 replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 7:51 PM

Clayton, your question begs another. What rights do you have in your dealing with a socialist, a nihilist, or with any person who rejects your notion of rights?

The obvious answer is that your rights are not dependent on who you are dealing with. I don't see any implication of might makes right in the religious origin of rights. A religion can easily reject all violence, even in self defense.

I disagree with part of the above quote. Life is not a right. Nature cannot violate a right (by definition). So a natural death disproves the right to life. Only rational beings can violate a right.

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Clayton:

What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity. Thinkers from St. Thomas Aquinas, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II have all argued that our rights are a natural part of our humanity. We own our bodies, thus we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies. So, our right to life, our right to develop our personalities, our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, our right to worship or not worship, our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit, our right to due process — fairness — from the government, and our right to be left alone, are all rights that stem from our humanity. These are natural rights that we are born with. The government doesn't give them to us and the government doesn't pay for them and the government can't take them away, unless a jury finds that we have violated someone else's rights.

This is a poetic way to state our rights but I do not think it is a rigorous statement of rights. What rights do I have in my dealings with a Muslim? After all, he does not even acknowledge the existence of the Christian God. What rights do I have in my dealings with an atheist who does not recognize the existence of any God? Rights as a matter of human affairs can be explained in wholly human language (without resort to theology). In other words, stating that rights come from God implies that cross-religious or atheistic dealings are "might makes right", which is clearly false. Human law does not logically depend on theology in any way.

Clayton -

I don't see where the Judge brought religion into it.

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Nov 26 2012 8:10 PM

Here, let me help:

What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

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thetabularasa:

Clayton:

What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity. Thinkers from St. Thomas Aquinas, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II have all argued that our rights are a natural part of our humanity. We own our bodies, thus we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies. So, our right to life, our right to develop our personalities, our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, our right to worship or not worship, our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit, our right to due process — fairness — from the government, and our right to be left alone, are all rights that stem from our humanity. These are natural rights that we are born with. The government doesn't give them to us and the government doesn't pay for them and the government can't take them away, unless a jury finds that we have violated someone else's rights.

This is a poetic way to state our rights but I do not think it is a rigorous statement of rights. What rights do I have in my dealings with a Muslim? After all, he does not even acknowledge the existence of the Christian God. What rights do I have in my dealings with an atheist who does not recognize the existence of any God? Rights as a matter of human affairs can be explained in wholly human language (without resort to theology). In other words, stating that rights come from God implies that cross-religious or atheistic dealings are "might makes right", which is clearly false. Human law does not logically depend on theology in any way.

Clayton -

I don't see where the Judge brought religion into it.

I suppose being born is really what facilitates the rights. So atheists can still believe in natural rights, basically by way of birth, whereas theists are probably more geared toward the cosmological origin. I see one being a matter of cosmology and metaphysics, the other ethics.

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hashem:

thetabularasa:
Yes, I have a right to life, and it's from God.

It's still a concept, and it only has utility to the extent that others accept and value it.

See my post to Clayton, I think it's a sound observation.

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