Rights again (was Re: [extropy-chat] SUV versus sedan etc)

Samantha Atkins samantha at objectent.com
Mon Aug 23 06:09:42 UTC 2004

On Aug 22, 2004, at 10:44 PM, Brett Paatsch wrote:

> I'm arguing that there are no rights as rights other than those
> which a person (if we stick with our own species) has because
> they are a member of some group that will underwrite those rights
> with a group-backed assumption of aggregated other individual
> accepted responsibility.

I have heard this before.  So you believe that if say, sharia law 
became universal on earth, that humans would have no rights whatsoever 
to oppose it?  Or that they can oppose it but not on the grounds that 
it is a violation of their rights?   You believe in short that rights 
are the gift of the state.   Doesn't the nature of human beings imply 
some common requirements for their well being?  Couldn't you derive 
rights from that common nature?

> I would argue for instance that as a US citizen that you have no
> right to endless life (your fellow citizens cannot at present 
> underwrite
> such a right for you as they do not have the wherewithal to prevent
> you from dying - even if they wanted to)

Of course I don't have the right to demand anyone else undertake to 
support my life against their will for one moment, much less endlessly. 
  But this does not mean that I do not have every right to seek to 
prolong my life indefinitely.   You are confusing a right to attempt 
something, a negative right (freedom from coercion), from a positive 
right (a right to something to be provided by others).   
Non-contradictory notions of rights are largely negative rights (in a 
word, freedom).

> rather you do have a right
> not to be murdered so long as  your fellow citizens (group members)
> will collectively accept the responsibility for preventing your being
> murdered and for penalising anyone in or outside your group that
> murders you.

So if your fellow citizens decide they hate your guts and that you 
aren't worth protecting that it is quite alright for them to kill you?

- samantha

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