• NOS4A2
    3.9k


    On what basis is their conduct objectionable, if it doesn't involve infringing the rights of others?

    I suppose the basis would be intolerance and superstition. History is filled with beliefs, expressions, lifestyles, religions deemed objectionable and unacceptable and worthy of sanction.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    Natural law to them established, and provided guidance in determining, right conduct. It didn't provide a basis on which various entitlements could be claimed and demanded by each individual.Ciceronianus the White

    So do you have a sort of history of how it went from Natural law as right conduct to Natural law as entitlements? I can think of John Locke perhaps. Life, liberty, property are basic freedoms that should be protected by governments, according to him.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    So do you have a sort of history of how it went from Natural law as right conduct to Natural law as entitlements? I can think of John Locke perhaps. Life, liberty, property are basic freedoms that should be protected by governments, according to him.schopenhauer1

    It's not something I've studied in any detail, but my guess would be that the emphasis on individual natural rights started to take place in the 17th century, and certainly Locke is one of the pioneers in that approach. Rousseau would be another. I think that from roughly that time to the present the concern became to determine what individuals should be free to do instead of what people should do. What they should be free to do could be determined through reference to natural law, but the interests of the individual became predominant. So, natural law theory began to change (I won't say mutate). Perhaps this took place because certain citizens of influence began to be more able through resources available to them to satisfy their own desires and interests, and wished to do so without restraint by others or the government. Philosophical grounds were sought to provide a justification for the unrestrained satisfaction of individual interests.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k


    I would propose that we're inclined to find and should find certain conduct objectionable, or ignoble, even if it doesn't directly infringe on what we consider to be the rights of others. So, what is proper conduct isn't limited by considerations of claimed rights of each individual.
  • NOS4A2
    3.9k


    I would propose that we're inclined to find and should find certain conduct objectionable, or ignoble, even if it doesn't directly infringe on what we consider to be the rights of others. So, what is proper conduct isn't limited by considerations of claimed rights of each individual.

    I agree with that. Even so, we should defend their right to engage in that conduct, and for the same reason we would do so for anyone else.

    I’m reminded of the Jewish refugee from Nazi germany, Aryeh Neier, who while director of the ACLU defended the free speech rights of American Nazis to hold a rally in Chicago neighborhoods where many Holocaust survivors lived. Clearly the Nazi’s behavior was objectionable, ugly, and immoral, but the ACLU was right and moral in defending their right to engage in such conduct.
  • schopenhauer1
    4.8k
    Perhaps this took place because certain citizens of influence began to be more able through resources available to them to satisfy their own desires and interests, and wished to do so without restraint by others or the government. Philosophical grounds were sought to provide a justification for the unrestrained satisfaction of individual interests.Ciceronianus the White

    Yes, but you would have to really follow the history. Can you juxtapose what came prior to the Enlightenment as more communitarian vs. the individualistic Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment emphasis? So it looks like you are saying Roman law emphasized how one was in relation to the government- duty to be in the army if citizen, how one can access courts or petitioning the Emperor directly, etc. However, there was never an emphasis for the freedoms of individuals. That is to say, how individuals would not be impeded by the government. So freedoms were mainly based on access to civil societies. This changes in the Enlightenment when individuals were no longer binding to institutions like lords and church officials. Rather, people were beholden to the markets, and property was a large part of protecting this new social arrangement. In the middle ages, the producers and merchants took a back seat, but once monarchies aligned with the interests of producers and merchants (mercantilism), and then the free-markets started moving away from the mercantile arrangement of state control to a free-market model, the individual and property became that much more important for individual reasons. Thus life, liberty, and property does seem more important. But there's obviously something more here than economic arrangements. Freedom of speech for example, and freedom of religion. I think it is a reaction to Church stifling of all sorts of speech. No empirical research that contradicts the Scholastics and Aristotle. No speech that does not comply with the Church's doctrine. Then there was what was going on in Protestant countries. Much of it was in response to kings like Charles II and James I and II etc. etc. But who was trying to have their free speech? The merchants of course. The middle classes that started having more of a say in what was going on in the nation. Thus the Netherlands had their various merchant states meeting. The English started moving from an emphasis on lords and hereditary status to merchants having a voice. These merchants made money on technological innovations of sorts.. clothing, steam, coal, etc. They needed to get more open information so they could invent more things to make money. Freedom of speech, press, etc. is needed for this type of exchange.

    I don't know, I am just providing some sort of outline.
  • Hanover
    5.9k
    I don't understand how your example establishes the ancient Greeks believed in natural rights as distinguished from natural law.Ciceronianus the White

    If ancient Roman law held that all men were created equal by virtue of nature (https://www.politicalsciencenotes.com/cicero/political-ideas-of-cicero-natural-law-equality-and-idea-of-state/1039), then wouldn't this natural law concept necessarily translate into some form of natural right? Surely if I'm equal to you by virtue of my humanity, there must necessarily be some rule that if applied unequally would result in a violation of my natural right to be treated fairly.

    We might debate what those specific natural rights are that flow from the general principles of natural law, but that doesn't mean they do not exist. For example, my right to free speech might be argued to exist by virtue of my right to speak my mind just as you can speak your mind and just as any elected official might speak theirs as we're all equals created to do justice. If natural law states I am to do justice and that is part of my creation, my right to free speech does appear to flow from that and is therefore a natural right.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    I’m reminded of the Jewish refugee from Nazi germany, Aryeh Neier, who while director of the ACLU defended the free speech rights of American Nazis to hold a rally in Chicago neighborhoods where many Holocaust survivors lived. Clearly the Nazi’s behavior was objectionable, ugly, and immoral, but the ACLU was right and moral in defending their right to engage in such conduct.NOS4A2

    I suspect the ACLU was defending a First Amendment right, which is dependent on the law of the U.S., not on a natural or universal right apart from the law, though. I'm not sure, however.
  • 8livesleft
    60
    I think the belief that such rights exist has its basis in self-interest and, Ayn Rand and others notwithstanding, think that self-interest is not a virtue, and isn't a basis on which moral conduct should be determined or judged. The fact that all are entitled to such rights makes no difference as far as I'm concerned.Ciceronianus the White

    It may not be a virtue but self-interest is why most people do what they do. If laws weren't in place to protect our interests then we would be less compelled to follow them (edited).
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    If ancient Roman law held that all men were created equal by virtue of nature (https://www.politicalsciencenotes.com/cicero/political-ideas-of-cicero-natural-law-equality-and-idea-of-state/1039), then wouldn't this natural law concept necessarily translate into some form of natural right? Surely if I'm equal to you by virtue of my humanity, there must necessarily be some rule that if applied unequally would result in a violation of my natural right to be treated fairly.Hanover

    Well, it's been argued (by Grotius, for example) that the Roman conception of natural law, and even its institutional law, recognized the concept of individual rights even though that concept is never mentioned in the ancient sources. I wonder whether he was correct, however, or merely seeking justification for the concept in Roman law.

    I think the argument can be made that natural rights arise from natural law, but it seems to me that that to the Romans, natural law didn't extend to a belief in universal individual rights as we would think of them. In fact, it appears Roman jurists didn't associate individual rights with natural law. For example, slavery was sanctioned by the law in the late Republic and Empire although it was acknowledged that under natural law all men are equal. So, the jurist Ulpian wrote this about slavery:

    "As far as the ius civile is concerned, slaves are not
    regarded as persons. This, however, is not true
    under natural law, because, so far as natural law is
    concerned, all men are equal."

    And according to Florentius:

    "Slavery is an institution of ius gentium by which
    one man is made the property of another contrary
    to nature."

    What I think is striking about these statements is the absence of any positive expression of the belief that slaves have the natural right to be free. They're equal to their masters under natural law, but are slaves nonetheless. Slavery seems to be taken for granted, and I don't think it would be if natural rights were accepted.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    It may not be a virtue but self-interest is why most people do what they do. If laws weren't in place to protect our interests then we would have no reason to follow them.8livesleft

    It may be more accurate to state that we would be less inclined to follow them absent the protection.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    don't know, I am just providing some sort of outline.schopenhauer1

    I know. I don't know if I could do more. I can see that as authority came to be questioned and the advantages of unrestrained thought and conduct came to be recognized, the rights of the individual came to be seen as more and more important.
  • 8livesleft
    60
    It may be more accurate to state that we would be less inclined to follow them absent the protection.Ciceronianus the White

    Yes that would be more accurate.
  • Hanover
    5.9k
    What I think is striking about these statements is the absence of any positive expression of the belief that slaves have the natural right to be free. They're equal to their masters under natural law, but are slaves nonetheless. Slavery seems to be taken for granted, and I don't think it would be if natural rights were accepted.Ciceronianus the White

    And there's the similarity in American law, where our Declaration states we have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but the pre-13th Amendment Constitution specifically protected the institution of slavery. What this means, I suppose, is that the Romans and the Americans were willing to accept that there is a right way to do things and then there is the way things are going to be done.

    So, if the Romans permitted slavery, they would be admitting their law was unjust and not in compliance with the way things ought to be. While the leaders may understand the citizens' protests against the government policies as being inherently unjust and in violation of the way nature means things to be, they wouldn't feel compelled to change the law because Caesar gets to do what Caesar wants to do.

    I would then think that at some point in the evolution of society, leaders would feel compelled to pass laws consistent with their most fundamental principles. This drive to be consistent and to do right in the law would not actually compel the leaders, but it would just be a drive, fully subject to being ignored as the leaders saw fit. This moment in time would be consistent with the positive law system you advocate.

    I would think, though, that at some point in the further evolution of society, a belief would form that no government could withhold what nature endowed, forcing the government to change its function from being the creator of enforceable laws that are consistent with natural law to being the protector of rights derivable from natural law. This moment in time would be inconsistent with your positive law system, as it would signal a shift to a natural rights system.

    A question I'd submit to you is that If we're both in agreement with what the law ought to be (e.g. there should not be slaves), and we're both in agreement as to why the law ought be as it is (because natural law dictates such things), why would you want to maintain a system that allows government to pass laws that it shouldn't? Why don't you see the evolution toward a natural rights system a step forward? As you present it, you portray this step as a misstep.

    This is to say that if your historical analysis is correct that ancient Roman law did not recognize the concept of natural rights, why would you want to protect that ancient system, especially when it appears that the direct recognition of natural rights is an evolutionary step forward because it protects us against unjust governments and actually declares laws that are passed that are not in compliance with natural law beyond the charter of any just government?
  • Hanover
    5.9k
    As an aside, and I don't know how this figures into this analysis is the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, also an ancient Roman tradition.

    Very briefly, I am Jewish, married a non-Jew, my marriage being entirely unrecognized by Jewish law, finally ending in divorce. I am now engaged to a baptized Catholic, who is divorced from a non-Catholic, married in a non-Catholic church. That marriage is not recognized as a valid sacramental Catholic marriage, but it is considered a natural law marriage as it arose under all the conditions of a valid marriage (they considered themselves married, exclusive, to be lifelong partners, wanted to procreate, etc.). For her to marry me and wish to be able to take communion and be in good standing, she would need an annulment of the natural law marriage. And making this odder, I would also need an annulment as well, despite being Jewish and formally married to a Methodist because I apparently still remain married under my natural law marriage. To marry me prior to my annulment, even should she receive an annulment, would be polygamy and adultery.

    I know all this because I talked to a priest about it, which was an interesting event.

    I'm not sure if this story has application here, but it does seems to stand for the proposition that natural law does impart very specific rights and obligations, namely the ability to marry (and all the rights and privileges that implies) and the obligation not to forsake that marriage.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    And there's the similarity in American law, where our Declaration states we have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but the pre-13th Amendment Constitution specifically protected the institution of slavery.Hanover

    But where great functionaries of a legal system (especially Ulpian--a Praetorian Prefect as well as a jurist) acknowledge slavery is an institution in contravention of natural law, and yet sanction it, I think we have a situation different from the peculiarly American tolerance of slavery. Supporters of slavery in the U.S. (like John Calhoun, for example) didn't think it contrary to natural law. The author (with a little help from Ben Franklin grudgingly accepted) of the Declaration was of course a slave owner, and thought slaves were not the equals of whites. As far as I know, nobody in the U.S. thought slavery contrary to natural law and yet thought it should exist.

    A question I'd submit to you is that If we're both in agreement with what the law ought to be (e.g. there should not be slaves), and we're both in agreement as to why the law ought be as it is (because natural law dictates such things), why would you want to maintain a system that allows government to pass laws that it shouldn't? Why don't you see the evolution toward a natural rights system a step forward? As you present it, you portray this step as a misstep.Hanover

    I don't think I've ever said government should be allowed to pass laws that it shouldn't. I think laws which protect civil liberties through the creation of rights are essential. I think, though, that rights are appropriately a legal construct to be employed to restrict the power of government. My problem with natural rights--rights which purportedly exist independent of law and are somehow granted by nature or God--is that they're conducive to an ethics which is excessively narrow and limited to consideration of satisfaction of the desires and interests of individuals and their capacity to indulge them. I think there are other problems with the concept as well, such as the complications which arise when individual natural rights conflict, but am not addressing those in this thread.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    I know all this because I talked to a priest about it, which was an interesting event.Hanover

    Yikes. What you've experienced is almost unimaginable even to me, an old altar boy who attended a Catholic elementary school and a Catholic high school for two years, and so has some familiarity with the ornate nature of the doctrine of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    But I wonder whether what the priest was referring to was more a question of status, and the privileges available to those who attain that status, than what we would think of as rights. That may seem to be not much of a distinction, but I think it has significance.
  • Athena
    947
    Hum interesting. How can there be nature laws without natural rights? Are you saying Jefferson's word's wrong?

    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    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.-
    — Jefferson

    Of course we have a big problem because we ignored what Jefferson said As though Nature's God had one set of rules for us and another set of rules for "those people".
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    How can there be nature laws without natural rights? Are you saying Jefferson's word's wrong?Athena

    Jefferson was a hypocrite among other, better things. Regardless of his personal failings and accomplishments, though, I think he was wrong about our being endowed by our Creator with "inalienable rights."

    I think the distinction between natural law as conceived by the ancient thinkers who developed the theory and natural rights as conceived for the most part from the 17th century to the present may be as simple as a difference in emphasis, but that difference is significant. That difference arises from the emphasis in natural law theory on what we should do and the emphasis in natural rights theory on what we should be free to do if we want to do it.

    Broadly speaking, and for purposes of providing an example of the difference:

    The ancients, like Cicero, thought we should act in accordance with reason as exemplified in nature (constituting the natural law). Since law is part of what we do, that should be based on reason as well. Natural rights theorists posit that nature has endowed us with the certain rights we should be free to exercise provided we don't infringe on the rights of others also so endowed. Law, therefore, shouldn't restrict our rights unless by exercising them we infringe on the rights of others.

    The emphasis on individual rights may lead to (and does lead to, I think) the view that there is nothing morally objectionable in satisfying our own desires and interests provided we don't directly infringe on the natural rights of others. It may even be admirable to do so. For example, there would be nothing morally objectionable in accruing as much wealth and property as we can, even if it means we are much better off than others and have far more power and influence than others do. We're merely exercising our natural rights. We're not directly infringing the rights of others if they have far less than we do, or nothing at all for that matter. They have no natural right to our support, and the law/government cannot be allowed to require that our wealth be used to support them.

    I don't think a natural law theorist would be required to hold a similar view. Right Reason doesn't necessarily justify the accumulation of far more wealth than we can possibly use or need, nor does it necessarily prohibit laws which wouldn't allow us to do so, particularly if it's to the detriment of others even if it doesn't infringe on their supposed natural rights.
  • Athena
    947
    They have no natural right to our support, and the law/government cannot be allowed to require that our wealth be used to support them.Ciceronianus the White

    You write so beautifully I didn't think I would find anything to argue. However, there are people who would disagree with the above statement. Among some aboriginal people it would be taboo to accumulate wealth and not share. The chosen leader among native American tribes is the one who gives the most. Democracy is about the everyone's welfare. It could be understood as a commitment to support each other.

    “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Franklin Roosevelt

    What you said was abhorrent when the church ruled and controlled prices. Communism and socialism focus more on shared wealth than the capitalism of the US and it is easy to find fault with the capitalism of the US. However, the US does tax people and distribute wealth to a limited degree. A minimum wage law, assistance programs take from some to give to others and hopefully most people think this the morally decent thing to do. Many believe this is important to avoiding social problems and the greater cost of incarcerating people. Public education is expensive, but it is an investment that a democracy must make. Divided we fall. United we stand.

    For example, there would be nothing morally objectionable in accruing as much wealth and property as we can, even if it means we are much better off than others and have far more power and influence than others do.Ciceronianus the White

    I think exploiting the land and others for personal gain is hurting the earth and the nation, and is morally wrong. Especially those who are exploiting the earth are stealing from future generations and are being immoral because of how damaging they are. And thank goodness enough people thought slavery is wrong, to stop it but we did not successful give people of color equal rights and now we are paying for that wrong.

    Right ReasonCiceronianus the White

    Right reason is more consciousness than any one person can have. Democracy is amazing because everyone feeds into the consciousness and this brings us to education for all, a national pension plan, and hopefully some day a national health care system. A moral is a matter of cause and effect and a moral nation is one with board consciousness. The US is now divided and its democracy may be self destructing? It is my hope that we will pull through these bad times and come out stronger, but we need to reeducate the masses about democracy before we can defend it. Democracy like a tribe is everyone working together for the good of all.

    Unfortunately our industry was based on English autocracy, and in 1958 the National Defense Education Act, ended transmitting a culture for democracy and liberty. Now we are in big trouble. Right reason resolves problems and avoids creating them.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    You write so beautifully I didn't think I would find anything to argue.Athena

    Thank you.
    However, there are people who would disagree with the above statement. Among some aboriginal people it would be taboo to accumulate wealth and not share. The chosen leader among native American tribes is the one who gives the most.Athena

    I don't know for certain, but I think it's likely those cultures/societies have no concept of the individual rights claimed to exist in the modern Western tradition.

    However, the US does tax people and distribute wealth to a limited degree. A minimum wage law, assistance programs take from some to give to others and hopefully most people think this the morally decent thing to do.Athena

    Yes. But it was a struggle even for that to take place. FDR was condemned for his support of social welfare programs we now take for granted, implemented during the Great Depression, and there were many attempts to prevent their implementation. Congress wasn't formally authorized to impose an individual income tax until the 16th Amendment was adopted in 1913 (there were efforts to impose a tax previously during the Civil War). Income taxation was bitterly opposed. Even now, social welfare programs are condemned as socialist. Many of us are so convinced of the sanctity of our rights that we consider being told to wear masks is a form of tyranny (there is, apparently, a right not to be inconvenienced for the sake of protecting others).
  • Athena
    947
    I don't know for certain, but I think it's likely those cultures/societies have no concept of the individual rights claimed to exist in the modern Western tradition.Ciceronianus the White

    Beautiful! I love your expression of thought! In general this forum is so different from a political forum where people bash heads and no thinks about what is being said. Your comments trigger ideas that are in my head and rearrange them in new ways, new insights. This is the most exciting and pleasurable experience we can have. It is Thomas Jefferson's idea of the pursuit of happiness.

    Yes! it is about a concept of individualism. Our Western civilization is very individualistic but not cultures are like this. So it is not just what is wrong with rights but how do we identify ourselves? Are we individuals or members of a larger group, or as I like to think of it, a member of something much bigger than myself. :chin: I like Eastern consciousness and identifying with a universal consciousness.A belief system where the ego is deluded into believing it is the most important. I study history and feel connected with the whole of humanity since the beginning of our time. It is just not my nature to compete for money and power. That is crude and distasteful to me. My value is my mind and my humanness and I strive always to make a contribution to society. I am buying a Thanksgiving dinner for about 100 homeless people and my granddaughter is cooking it. Our value is not in money and I think I may understand our rights differently then you do?

    Yes. But it was a struggle even for that to take place. FDR was condemned for his support of social welfare programs we now take for granted, implemented during the Great Depression, and there were many attempts to prevent their implementation. Congress wasn't formally authorized to impose an individual income tax until the 16th Amendment was adopted in 1913 (there were efforts to impose a tax previously during the Civil War). Income taxation was bitterly opposed. Even now, social welfare programs are condemned as socialist. Many of us are so convinced of the sanctity of our rights that we consider being told to wear masks is a form of tyranny (there is, apparently, a right not to be inconvenienced for the sake of protecting others).Ciceronianus the White


    Yes, the Western egomania culture has its problems. Yes, the vast majority appear to have extremely narrow consciousness. If the knew better they would do better. :lol: Considering how narrow minded many are, it is amazing the US has done so well. It is amazing that during this economic crisis they are handing out money to everyone to stimulate the economy. I am not sure this free handout is the way to go. I think Roosevelt creating jobs was a better way to go, but at least there is some recognition that a good economy depends on circulating money. But the US has a long ways to go in increasing consciousness. It must be one of the most selfish and economically ignorant nation in Western civilization.
  • god must be atheist
    2.4k
    I think the belief that such rights exist has its basis in self-interest and, Ayn Rand and others notwithstanding, think that self-interest is not a virtue, and isn't a basis on which moral conduct should be determined or judged. The fact that all are entitled to such rights makes no difference as far as I'm concerned.Ciceronianus the White

    So... have you given up all your worldly possessions very much lately? This is actually a very serious question I ask. If yes, good for you, you fulfil your own definition of virtuous. If not, you have proven that you subscribe to self-interest, and as such, you declare (no, I don't declare that, because my values are different) that you are not virtuous. So in order to win an argument, you shame yourself in the service of it.

    You decry certain rights as not virtuous. That is a moral call of no measurable substantiation. I accept that in your eyes they are not virtuous, but if you make the stand that they are not virtuous from any point of view, then I'll dispute that.

    So you are saying that in your views, opinions you form are your opinions. That is not debatable.

    This, after you avoided the question of the right to own property being equally distributed among the population, which is independent of property distributed.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    This is actually a very serious question I ask.god must be atheist

    If it has to do with possessions, it is of course a very serious question.

    If yes, good for you, you fulfil your own definition of virtuous. If not, you have proven that you subscribe to self-interest, and as such, you declare (no, I don't declare that, because my values are different) that you are not virtuous.god must be atheist

    The fact that self-interest isn't a virtue doesn't mean one cannot be self-interested. It merely means that that one isn't being virtuous when acting solely in one's own interest. It means, in other words, that you and I don't show moral excellence when acting solely for our own benefit. There's nothing admirable or laudable about self-interest, but neither is there anything necessarily evil or wrong about. It may be perfectly natural and appropriate depending on the circumstances.

    You decry certain rights as not virtuous.god must be atheist

    I don't think so. I think I merely say that a belief in natural, individual rights may give rise to an ethics which is inappropriately limited, encourages purely selfish conduct and may even be used to justify it when carried to an extreme.

    This, after you avoided the question of the right to own property being equally distributed among the population, which is independent of property distributed.god must be atheist

    I'm quite aware that in this country there is (normally) a legal right to own property. I'm not convinced there's a natural right of that kind, or any kind. I think that the fact there is such a legal right and its extends to most of us doesn't mean that the possession or exercise of that legal right is virtuous or moral in itself. The fact I can or do legally own property and it can't be legally taken from me in most cases doesn't make me moral or virtuous, nor is the existence of that legal right a matter of morality.
  • Athena
    947
    The fact that self-interest isn't a virtue doesn't mean one cannot be self-interested. It merely means that that one isn't being virtuous when acting solely in one's own interest. It means, in other words, that you and I don't show moral excellence when acting solely for our own benefit. There's nothing admirable or laudable about self-interest, but neither is there anything necessarily evil or wrong about. It may be perfectly natural and appropriate depending on the circumstances.Ciceronianus the White

    I struggled with issues involving self-interest and then I realized even the apple tree that gives freely of its apples has needs. I decided there is no virtue in denying myself but like the apple tree, the better I am nourished, the more I have to give.

    I believe the story of the first Buddha begins with excessive self denial. He was not the only one wondering around and experiencing excessive self denial, but many have traveled this path and it can become even an unvirtuous competition to be the one who goes to the furthest extreme. It just is not healthy. A healthy person has learned to take good care of him/her self. :rofl: At my age, the virtue is maintaining independence and not complaining about the unpleasantness of living in this deteriorating body too often.
  • Athena
    947
    I don't think so. I think I merely say that a belief in natural, individual rights may give rise to an ethics which is inappropriately limited, encourages purely selfish conduct and may even be used to justify it when carried to an extreme.Ciceronianus the White

    I must speak to this. There are no rights without duties. The US culture has fallen into a complete disaster because people now believe we have rights without duty. That works about as well as breathing in, breathing in, and never breathing out. We seriously need to rebalance. With rights there are duties. With freedom there is responsibility.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.4k
    There are no rights without duties.Athena
    We hear this often, but I wonder what it means, at least in the context of a belief in natural rights. Does it mean there are natural duties as well as natural rights? If so, what are those duties? Is the duty being referred to simply an obligation not to infringe on the natural rights of others? That would seem merely another way of saying natural rights generally shouldn't be violated, which in turn seems to be merely a way of saying there are natural rights.

    If we have a natural right to life, what is the duty associated with it without which the right wouldn't or couldn't exist? If there's a natural right to own property, what is the corresponding duty?
  • Hanover
    5.9k
    We hear this often, but I wonder what it means, at least in the context of a belief in natural rights. Does it mean there are natural duties as well as natural rights? If so, what are those duties? Is the duty being referred to simply an obligation not to infringe on the natural rights of others? That would seem merely another way of saying natural rights generally shouldn't be violated, which in turn seems to be merely a way of saying there are natural rights.

    If we have a natural right to life, what is the duty associated with it without which the right wouldn't or couldn't exist? If there's a natural right to own property, what is the corresponding duty?
    Ciceronianus the White

    Under a natural law position, the duty would be in protecting that right, whatever it may be, from infringement. If you were a natural rights adherent, you would argue that the legitimate duty of the US government (for instance) is to protect our inalienable rights, not create them. If you were a legal positivist, you would argue the US government has no such duty, but that it can create any law it desires, but when it does, it provides you the benefits of that law. It does not protect anything you already have. It creates it and you should be grateful for what has been provided to you.

    It's a matter of creation by the government versus protection by the government. Subtle, but important from an ideological perspective, but if you accept the natural law position, the government does clearly have a duty, and it would be an unjust government if it failed in its duty.
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