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Can a man lose his rights?

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The Individual
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I have a few questions I hope to find some answers to.

Is it true to Objectivism that a man loses his rights when he does not recognize the rights of others?

So, does a terrorist have rights?

Does a murderer have rights?

Does a robber have rights?

Does a pickpocket have rights?

If the answer is "No, they do not have rights", what does it mean exactly? Does it mean that anybody can do anything to them like torture them and beat them? And can they regain their rights?

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If the answer is "No, they do not have rights", what does it mean exactly? Does it mean that anybody can do anything to them like torture them and beat them?

If the answer was no, then that's what that would mean, yes. They could even be barbecued and eaten by cannibals.

But people have rights, even criminals.

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If the answer was no, then that's what that would mean, yes. They could even be barbecued and eaten by cannibals.

But people have rights, even criminals.

So, a man who does not recognize the rights of others still have rights?

Was it morally wrong of the previous administration to torture terrorists?

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So, a man who does not recognize the rights of others still have rights?

Was it morally wrong of the previous administration to torture terrorists?

#1: Yes

#2: No

And in anticipation of what seems to me to be an attempt to lead this conversation down a pre-decided path:

The degree to which one violates the rights of another determines how much of their own rights are surrendered.

A petty criminal stealing pies from window sills to survive is in the wrong, but not to a capital degree. A person who murders or can be proven to be planning to murder the innocent to promote a cause, on the other hand, surrenders their own rights to life.

If a terrorist would visit anguish on innocents - men, women, children who've done nothing to the terrorist - what right can the terrorist claim to be spared from anguish caused by those acting to defend the innocents?

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When is someone said to have surrendered their own rights to life? And when one surrenders his rights, that means he no longer has rights? Or does it mean he has no legitimacy to his rights?

Stealing from a person is denying that person of his right to his own property which is necessary to his life. I could say that the thief has surrendered his own rights to his own property or his life. Does that now mean that anybody can steal from the thief?

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When is someone said to have surrendered their own rights to life?

Stealing from a person is denying that person of his right to his own property which is necessary to his life. I could say that the thief has surrendered his own rights to his own property or his life. Does that now mean that anybody can steal from the thief?

No, in effect the theif surrenders his rights to all men in the state through the rule of law. We live by means of laws which properly constructed protect individual rights and only individual rights. In doing so we embody the state as the primary protector of our rights and enforcer of our laws. This means that the theif still has the right to be protected from the mob but does not enjoy the fullest realization of his own rights because of the laws and the punishments prescribed within them.

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When is someone said to have surrendered their own rights to life? And when one surrenders his rights, that means he no longer has rights? Or does it mean he has no legitimacy to his rights?

Stealing from a person is denying that person of his right to his own property which is necessary to his life. I could say that the thief has surrendered his own rights to his own property or his life. Does that now mean that anybody can steal from the thief?

Suggest you actually read Ayn Rand's works on this subject as a starting point.

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So, it would still be immoral of me if I tried to murder a terrorist who bombed an American embassy in Iraq?

We institute governments to create and enforce objective laws. It would not be a very civilized society if individuals could initiate force at their whim based on what they, singularly, determine is moral.

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So, it would still be immoral of me if I tried to murder a terrorist who bombed an American embassy in Iraq?

That depends. If the terrorist was in US custody, awaiting trial, then it would be immoral. If you spotted him some place out of the reach of American justice, then you could simply kill him yourself, just as the American military has the right to kill America's enemies on sight. (you would be acting to defend the United States)

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That depends. If the terrorist was in US custody, awaiting trial, then it would be immoral. If you spotted him some place out of the reach of American justice, then you could simply kill him yourself, just as the American military has the right to kill America's enemies on sight. (you would be acting to defend the United States)

No, this is not correct. The military has the right to kill American enemies because the Military has been given that authority by Government directive. An individual, acting on their own, spotting someone they think is a terrorist, has no such right to kill said alleged terrorist. There has been no due process in such a case. Unless a life (yours or someone elses) is immediately threatened then and there, you have no right to terminate someone else. Apprehend and turn over to Government - sure - but not kill. And if you apprehended someone wrongly - well - there should be consequences to that.

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No, this is not correct. The military has the right to kill American enemies because the Military has been given that authority by Government directive. An individual, acting on their own, spotting someone they think is a terrorist, has no such right to kill said alleged terrorist. There has been no due process in such a case.

I think you're changing the premise slightly for a reason. Even to you, the argument would sound unreasonable, if you stuck with the original premise: the man you're killing is a terrorist, he blew up an Embassy, and you know it.

In fact let's up the ante a bit: you, a private citizen, went hunting in the Alps, and stumbled upon a vacationing Hitler, in your sights, in '43. (or Osama, now) Would you have the right to pull the trigger, or would you be commiting murder?

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I think you're changing the premise slightly for a reason. Even to you, the argument would sound unreasonable, if you stuck with the original premise: the man you're killing is a terrorist, he blew up an Embassy, and you know it.

In fact let's up the ante a bit: you, a private citizen, went hunting in the Alps, and stumbled upon a vacationing Hitler, in your sights, in '43. (or Osama, now) Would you have the right to pull the trigger, or would you be commiting murder?

Rights are concepts that apply universally to individuals in terms of how they should morally be treated by other rational beings. Murder is a moral concept, and there would be a good case that killing Bin Laden vigilante style in no-man's land Waziristan would not be an abridgement of moral law. However, the only entities that are entitled to make judgements about such moral laws are justice systems. If you live alone in the desert, you are effectively your own judge and jury. If you are a US citizen, then the legal system in the US applies to you and is the source of explicit decisions regarding the morality of actions. It could be that a justice system would not consider the killing of an international terrorist and enemy of the state a punishible crime, it could be that it would consider your use of force in that situation improper. A justice system can be based on objective morality and rights while sometimes coming to different practical conclusions (if killing Osama starts war with Pakistan, the US might have every reason to punish you - you have acted against the rights of your fellow citizens by circumventing their elected leaders and provoking war against them).

As for the broader subject of 'can you lose rights' - this misunderstands rights. Rights are universal, and while not conditional (ie, can't disappear), their very nature requires that they apply under certain specific contexts.

For example: you have a right to your life. If you steal, you are not excercising that right, because you are living by another's efforts. You still have the right, so long as you pursue your own life - with all the implications thereof, such as engaging in free trade to benefit from others' labors - and in the context of exercising that right you'll always have it. If the government fines you because you committed fraud, your right to your property was not 'taken', because you weren't using it in the first place, you were not producing the property that was fined, you stole it, it wasn't yours. Likewise, if you murder somebody, you weren't excercising your freedom of action in society - you were living your life in a manner that required the death of another - from a moral context, in committing the act you were not free, you made your life dependent on another's death. Thus, being locked away for life doesn't represent the 'loss' of a right - because you weren't excercising it in the first place.

While the argument might seem semantical, it is significantly not. This is because of the objective and moral definition of rights implies a concept of justice. Justice depends on prerequisite notions of morality, and therefore rights. So, when a justice system responds to a crime it isn't recognizing that someone has forfeited their rights, it is recognizing how they are acting in the context of rights.

In simple language, you might say "A man who murders forfeits his right to live." But I think the proper way of describing the real concept is, "The concept of rights implies that a man who murders has forfeited his life." Note, that it is his life he forfeits, not his right to it. Since he has morally forfeited his life, the right to life cannot be claimed by him - for he has none.

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Rights are concepts that apply universally to individuals in terms of how they should morally be treated by other rational beings. Murder is a moral concept, and there would be a good case that killing Bin Laden vigilante style in no-man's land Waziristan would not be an abridgement of moral law. However, the only entities that are entitled to make judgements about such moral laws are justice systems.

That's not true. (except in a place where such a system exists and is doing its job, which is not the case for Iraq, Pakistan's tribal areas, or the French Alps in the winter of '43, which are the situations we are discussing)

If you live alone in the desert, you are effectively your own judge and jury. If you are a US citizen, then the legal system in the US applies to you and is the source of explicit decisions regarding the morality of actions. It could be that a justice system would not consider the killing of an international terrorist and enemy of the state a punishible crime, it could be that it would consider your use of force in that situation improper. A justice system can be based on objective morality and rights while sometimes coming to different practical conclusions (if killing Osama starts war with Pakistan, the US might have every reason to punish you - you have acted against the rights of your fellow citizens by circumventing their elected leaders and provoking war against them).

I agree that Americans are subject to US Justice, I disagree that said system can rightfully come to the conclusion that pulling the trigger in any of the three scenarios was a crime.

Killing Osama would not start a war with Pakistan, and I see no other argument to support your case against killing him without some type of process. In both other cases (Hitler and the Iraqi terrorist), there already is a war. Why would it be unjust to kill either? Because the government did not give the order?

I disagree that justice always requires a "justice system", or a government. You can bring justice to a terrorist, Hitler or bin Laden without an objective system in place. Killing them would be obviously just.

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What do you mean by objectivity? Can a person not be objective? Then who can?

I think you're right, but let's look at the following situation. You're out looking for Bin Laden, and you talk to locals who all say that he is living in this one cave out on the edge of the village. You find the cave, and inside you see a man who looks like Bin Laden, and you kill him. Only later does it turn out it wasn't Bin Laden, but simply someone who looked like him.

Should you be brought to justice? If so, where did your objectivity fail?

What would you have had to do to verify it was really Bin Laden in order to have been objective in your decision to kill?

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I think you're right, but let's look at the following situation. You're out looking for Bin Laden, and you talk to locals who all say that he is living in this one cave out on the edge of the village. You find the cave, and inside you see a man who looks like Bin Laden, and you kill him. Only later does it turn out it wasn't Bin Laden, but simply someone who looked like him.

Should you be brought to justice? If so, where did your objectivity fail?

What would you have had to do to verify it was really Bin Laden in order to have been objective in your decision to kill?

I think you should be judged based on your context of knowledge. If it is really true that you were reasonably sure it was bin Laden, then you should not be found guilty.

But, if you act like in that Sarah Silverman Program episode, where she runs a bearded Arab over, you are guilty:

http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index....;videoId=189230

In conclusion, you should be judged, and found guilty or not guilty. Either way, the fact that we are not infallible should not paralyze the government into inaction, and it should also not paralyze us into inaction in the absence of a government, for the same exact reason.

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In response to the OP:

The point is that you cannot RATIONALLY refuse to recognize the rights of others, whilst claiming rights for yourself. If you were being objective you'd need to accept that the rights you have also apply to every other individual. What is irrational is not moral.

So it's not really a case of losing your rights, it's more a case of trying to enact a contradiction.

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I understand that a man does not lose his rights even though he does not recognize your rights.

Let's say a man ignores your rights and initiates force and cause harm against you. Should you still recognize your attacker's rights? Or just ignore his rights and retaliate with force to protect yourself?

And what would you guys say about shooting a person who is trespassing on your property?

Since he does not recognize your rights to your own property and is initiating indirect force, is it moral to shoot him? My thought on this is it is moral to shoot the person but not necessary unless he was life-threatening, like a kid trespassing for instance.

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You should take minimum effective action necessary to restore your life/property to normal conditions and punish your enemy but no more than that. Of course it may be difficult to establish what exactly those actions/punishments might be, but fairness should be the guiding principle. The reason for the punishment is to let the criminal experience the negative consequences of his actions - ie. retribution - it is not enough simply to restore the victim's life to normal.

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