[extropy-chat] What the #$?! are rights anyway?

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Jun 16 19:00:46 UTC 2006

On Jun 15, 2006, at 12:41 PM, The Avantguardian wrote:

> There have been a couple of threads on both lists
> lately that have been somewhat contentious. On the WTA
> there has been an ongoing debate on abortion that has
> caused tempers to rise and people to go on angry
> rants. Of course at the center of this debate is the
> right of an unborn fetus to life versus a woman's
> right to have control over her body. ExI, on the other
> hand, has been hosting a debate on the right of poor
> people to get rich enough to "eat beefsteak" versus
> the right of a complex ecosystem known as a rainforest
> to exist.

A clump of cells have rights eh?  Funny the furor claiming so when  
much of the actual post-birth human population is de facto granted  
little or no rights.   This would seem a sure indication than the  
anti-abortion crowd is not really interested in fetal rights at all  
except as a tool.

> These debates have left me very pensive with a sense
> of deep disquiet. This unease stems from the fact that
> although I believe in rights, jealously guard mine,
> and support the rights of other as well, I no longer
> really know why I believe in them. So when people
> started complaining that discussing the rights of
> women versus those of fetuses is not a suitable topic
> for a transhuman list, I found it necessary to ask the
> lot of you to tell me what rights are, where they come
> from, and why they are in any sense "real"?

There are as real as any other aspect of ethics in which they are  
subsumed.  Where they come from is a matter of considerable  
contention I do not want to wade into (again).  But basically they  
are the agreed set of requirements as to how we treat one another in  
terms of the minimum common expectations we believe everyone is  
entitled to.  It can be debated whether this is a social pact only or  
it is more or less based on the commonalities shared by all
> \

> Natural rights, ca. the Enlightenment:
> "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
> are created equal, that they are endowed by their
> Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among
> these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The "Creator" part is not essential to a rights argument based on  
human nature.  All that is necessary is that we do have a shared nature.

Utterly irrelevant.

- samantha

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