• frank
    5.1k
    So, e.g. the billionaire has a right to his/her money and assets, and that right should not be restricted, legally or otherwise, because it is a right.Ciceronianus the White

    Holding that a person has a natural right to life, liberty, and property doesn't mean the state can't tax its citizens. We agree to allow the state to enforce order, build a military, protect workers, and tax billionaires.

    I'm not speaking as a champion of the concept of rights, I'm just trying to distinguish between the concept itself and the ways it ends up being used to subvert democracy and harm society. Corruption doesn't show that form of the system is bad. It just shows that we're assholes.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.5k
    As I said, one is obligated (has a duty) to live a particular way--i.e. virtuously--to live according to nature. That doesn't mean someone else has a right to one's virtuous conduct.Ciceronianus the White

    Whenever one has a duty to another person, that other person has a right, specifically a claim right, because a claim right just is a duty owed to you by someone else. (In contrast with a liberty right, which is just the absence of having any contrary duty yourself).

    Maybe not all duties are to other people, but when they are...
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.1k
    Legal rights may be subject to restrictions, yes. I don't think I've questioned the existence of legal rights, nor have I claimed there should be no legal right. I doubt anybody thinks government has non-legal right to tax. I may just misunderstand you, though.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.1k
    Whenever one has a duty to another person, that other person has a right, specifically a claim right, because a claim right just is a duty owed to you by someone else. (In contrast with a liberty right, which is just the absence of having any contrary duty yourself).

    Maybe not all duties are to other people, but when they are...
    Pfhorrest

    Just what "duty" means is certainly significant, as is the question whether a duty implies a right or whether a right requires a duty. I think claiming duties exist only where a right exists is misguided.

    Some say we owe a duty to our children, or our parents. Does that mean they have a right to certain conduct on our part? Does our obligation to them exist because of their rights, or is taking care of them simply what a good person would do? If I have a duty it means I should or should not do something. I should be good; I should not be bad. Do I have a duty to be good because everyone else has a right to my good behavior, or a duty not to be bad because everyone else has a right that I not be bad? I don't think so. I have no right to good conduct on the part of the rest of humanity.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.5k
    I think claiming duties exist only where a right exists is misguided.Ciceronianus the White

    I didn’t say that, I said the other way around. Rights are analyzable in terms of duties.
  • frank
    5.1k
    Legal rights may be subject to restrictions, yes. I don't think I've questioned the existence of legal rights, nor have I claimed there should be no legal right. I doubt anybody thinks government has non-legal right to tax. I may just misunderstand you, though.Ciceronianus the White

    I think legal rights are restrictions on what people can do or what laws can be passed.

    You give up some of your natural right to liberty through the social contract.
  • David Mo
    643
    ou're free (have a right?) to define "moral virtue" (as opposed to "immoral virtue" or "piano-playing virtue" etc., I assume) as you see fit if it pleases you,Ciceronianus the White

    It's not a question of whether I like it or not. It's that there is a real difference between virtues that affect oneself and virtues that affect my duties to other people. It is the difference between something that is non-moral (not "immoral", as you write) and something that is. If the term "moral" also seems arbitrary to you, everything is.
  • David Mo
    643
    I said the other way around. Rights are analyzable in terms of duties.Pfhorrest

    Indeed, because right and duty are terms that describe a reciprocal relationship. What Ciceronianus is pretending is like saying there is a father without children.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.5k
    Well, it is conceivable that in principle one could have a duty that is not toward another person, in which case one would have a duty while nobody had any corresponding right. But the converse is not true: if someone has a (claim) right, that just means that somebody has a duty to them.
  • David Mo
    643
    Well, it is conceivable that in principle one could have a duty that is not toward another person,Pfhorrest

    I suppose it would be a duty to himself or something similar. But that kind of duty is not considered moral. By definition we understand that morality is a way of regulating our relationships with others. If what I do does not affect anyone, it can hardly be said to be moral or immoral. See how those who oppose suicide try to refer it to the harm it creates to other people, the family, good customs, etc. Or relate it to a state of mental derangement. In other cultures, suicide is even considered honorable.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.1k
    I think claiming duties exist only where a right exists is misguided.
    — Ciceronianus the White

    I didn’t say that, I said the other way around. Rights are analyzable in terms of duties.
    Pfhorrest

    Well, I don't think a non-legal right necessarily exists where a duty exists, either, so I'm afraid we still disagree.

    Something about the belief that we should be good, or do something right, moral, etc., because the "rights" of another requires us to do so strikes me unsatisfactory. Why not just be good, or do the right thing, without looking to some divine command or law, or something else beyond your control or belonging in some sense to someone else, as compelling you to do so? There's something pharisaical about a morality based on such requirements.
  • Pfhorrest
    2.5k
    Well, I don't think a non-legal right necessarily exists where a duty exists, either, so I'm afraid we still disagree.Ciceronianus the White

    That’s still the wrong way around. I’m not saying a right necessarily exists where a duty exists, but that a duty necessarily exists where a (claim) right exists, and those duties constitute the entirety of those rights: to have a (claim) right just is for someone else to have a duty to you.

    This is independent of whether we mean legal or moral rights or duties. Google “Hohfeldian analysis”.
  • David Mo
    643
    Why not just be good, or do the right thing, without looking to some divine command or law, or something else beyond your control or belonging in some sense to someone else, as compelling you to do so?Ciceronianus the White
    Not that I should be good because someone has a right. It's that choosing to be good involves analytically recognizing the rights of others.

    This has nothing to do with the autonomy of my moral will. As you know, the greatest defender of good as a duty, Kant, was at the same time the defender of moral autonomy.
    But it has to do with misunderstanding moral autonomy. Freely choosing the good does not mean being outside all external control. You should read Caligula by Albert Camus, which illustrates the idea very well. Moral choice implies the feeling of the collective, because the moral good is a collective property. My freedom ends where the freedom of others begins. And the moral good cannot be decided from my absolute and abstract interior. I am good in relation to others who are good in relation to me. The opposite is a metaphysical individualism that only leads to selfishness which, although it pretends to be rational, has nothing moral about it.

    What happens is that in the present time, anyone who puts forward the rights of the collective as the foundation of the individual is accused of being a socialist, if not worse. We live in times of people who think they are monads.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.1k
    And the moral good cannot be decided from my absolute and abstract interior. I am good in relation to others who are good in relation to me. The opposite is a metaphysical individualism that only leads to selfishness which, although it pretends to be rational, has nothing moral about it.David Mo

    Proponents of eudaimonia and of virtue ethics don't decide what is good from their absolute interior, nor do they claim to be free from all external influences, as their concept of the good is based on the contemplation of nature and of the place and purpose of humans as part of nature. From that contemplation, or observation and analysis, they derive an understanding of the purpose of life and how to achieve that purpose. According to them, it's achieved by being virtuous.

    I am good in relation to others who are good in relation to me.David Mo

    This makes being good sound like an exchange, or bargain--I'm good to others who are good to me. That may not have been intended, of course, but the formulation illustrates a problem with systems of morality which make being good conditional on something others supposedly possess which imposes restraints on our conduct or imposes obligations on us. Our actions are good to the extent we comply with those restraints and meet those obligations, wrong to the extent we fail to do so. Just as our actions are legal to the extent we comply with the restraints imposed by the law and the obligations it imposes, illegal or wrongful and subject to penalty if we don't do so. It's a legalistic theory of morality, and makes the conflation of morality and the law virtually inevitable.

    For me, it's the concept of moral rights which invites selfishness, as it encourages a sense of entitlement. This is especially the case where rights conflict, as they do in the case of legal rights. It takes a huge, costly legal system to resolve those conflicts when it's possible to resolve disputes in which parties claim their rights are superior or the rights of others are subject to limitations, where that resolution is possible. In the case of claimed moral rights there is no method of resolution of the disputes which arise from the conflict of opinions regarding rights, and so those claiming rights may do so ad infinitum and without check.
  • David Mo
    643
    Proponents of eudaimonia and of virtue ethics don't decide what is good from their absolute interior,Ciceronianus the White
    Not the proponents of eudaimonia, of course. Because they combine virtue with duties (See Aristotle or Marcus Aurelius). Your refusal to include duties, your extremist concept of virtue does.
    This makes being good sound like an exchange, or bargain--Ciceronianus the White
    I didn't mean to, obviously. I was pointing out a logical link between duty and right. You turn it into reciprocity as causality. Don't change the premises, please.
    For me, it's the concept of moral rights which invites selfishness,Ciceronianus the White
    Conflict is the essence of human relationships in times of scarcity. It will arise whenever individualism is encouraged against community. Rights theory, like any other theory, will encourage conflict when rights are seen only in an individualistic way and cooperation when the emphasis is on collective rights. A basic human problem is to find the right balance between them.

    And this is a problem of morality, not of philosophical theories of morality.
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