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From OPAR, Chapter 10

A "right," in Ayn Rand's definition, "is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context." A right is a sanction to independent action; the opposite of acting by right is acting by permission. If someone borrows your pen, you set the terms of its use. When he returns it, no one can set the terms for you; you use it by right.

 

The "claim right/liberty right" distinction may be loosely associated with Dr. Peikoff's contrast of "acting by right/acting by permission", with the latter being more clear and concise.

 

Your "liberty right" to using my pen ends per the terms of its use I set for you per my "claim rights" on the pen. This seems unnecessarily complicated.

 

The view presented on the wiki link of the world operating strictly on "liberty rights" reeks of anarchism.

The converse suggests a highly regulated tyrannical political order where you act only by permission.

 

This is going afield of your desire to establish an the ethical principles that bolster rights and act as a spring-board into the political arena.

 

Edited: Added.

 

As another side note: Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’

Yet defending his government’s decision to remove this exemption, the minister for agriculture and food Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.

 

From a little later in Chapter 10 of OPAR:

If one detaches the concept of "rights" from reason and reality, however, then nothing but conflict is possible, and the theory of "rights" self-destructs. Just as bad principles drive out good, so false rights, reflecting bad principles, drive out proper rights—a process that is running wild today in the proliferation of such self-contradictory verbiage as "economic rights," "collective rights," "fetal rights," and "animal rights."

Edited by dream_weaver

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DA, in this conceptual exercise, the difference between the perspective of a rat and that of a flea is that the flea has none; if I may make a slightly sweeping but primarily valid generalization, fleas and intestinal parasites and amoebas simply respond to whatever stimulates them, according to their hereditary reflexes.  I do not believe they actually experience anything.

And in stepping "out of our own shoes" momentarily, to attempt to infer the nature of a rat's consciousness, we can use such hypotheticals to deduce things from IF (and I really can't overemphasize that 'if') we have conceptualized them properly.

 

Here's the kicker.

Do you suppose that the consciousness of a rat is capable of similarly conceptualizing your mind?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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If we attributed 'rights' to a wild animal then how would we be forced to handle it if they were to violate other people's rights?  A rat pilfering from your pantry would be considered a criminal anyway (for not respecting your right to your earnings); the only difference would be that we pay our taxes in order to get rid of criminals.

I do not think this principle leads in the direction you were hoping for. . . .

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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A 'right' is a choice which is yours to make, by any method and any standard you choose to, within the legal boundaries of others' choices.

And there is a difference between the choice to scurry under a particular rock and the choices behind the Ford Model T.

 

Was Einstein's conceptualization of the fundamental nature of space and time 'tool use'?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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DA: Can an argument be made that the bubonic plague was actually bacterial warfare developed by the rats to combat human infringement on their rights?

As demonstrated many times in history, man has joined together under new understandings in order to set right the wrongs being perpetrated against them.1 This too can weigh in when developing a principle such as "rights". What other animals in on the veldt do we observe this?

 

1. Consider the Magna Carta, and the Declaration of Independence as a couple of examples.

 

Edited: Added.

Edited by dream_weaver

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@ dream_weaver & Harrison Danneskjold,

 

You both raise interesting points, but I think we need to agree on some basic premises before we wander too far astray.  It seems to me in terms of a foundational premise, that life reflects reality, i.e., what you see is what you get.  I rely on behavioral observation where language is a barrier.  For example, when I observe panic, relaxation or playfulness, I infer what is bad, neutral or good for the animal in question.  Whether or not the animal understands human morality, it appears to be morally reactive, tending to avoid harm and pursue happiness.

 

Liberty rights seem to me to be the best fit for reflecting animal behavior in a state of nature; predator and prey struggling to survive according to their own particular abilities; the initial premise being, nature provides oppertunity without duty. 

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@ softwareNerd, JASKN, StrictlyLogical, dream_weaver, Harrison Danneskjold, et al,

 

At this point I'm very interested in verifying the credibilty of a liberty right as the inverse of a claim right.  As I understand it, a liberty right to X means the freedom to have or do X, and a claim right to X means an obligation on others to provide X.  Therefore one is essentially at liberty to X to the degree that another doesn't have a unilateral claim to X.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claim_rights_and_liberty_rights

 

So step 1 involves recognition that what is commonly refered to as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property) is essentially a liberty right.  Now consider the following from the POV of an Objectivist:

 

"Libertarianism holds that agents are, at least initially, full self-owners. Agents are (moral) full self-owners just in case they morally own themselves in just the same way that they can morally fully own inanimate objects."

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/libertarianism/#1

 

This view is consistent with Locke's assessment of a right to self-preservation and endorsed by the signatories of the Declaration of Independence.  So step 2 involves recognition that this view is also compatible with Objectivism.  Now here's the stretch...

If liberty rights are valid and inherent to human animals, are they not in fact valid for all animals?

 

DA:

 

Please read my post to Regi F illustrating in concrete terms why societies need to set up/sanction freedoms, limits etc., and why an Objectivist would want a society with those in place. 

 

The reason I raise this is because you keep referring to "rights" without defining what you mean by the term "rights".  Yes, you have gone on at length about what they should be based on, about how you are not conceiving of intrinsic or mystical versions, how animals should or do have them... but it is impossible to talk about them meaningfully (especially in this context) without your defining what you mean when you say "rights"

 

It's like talking about a book supposedly based on a true story, and you keep talking about what is true and not true, what happened, what events should be in the book etc... perhaps you even try to prove it was based on a true story or that it was based on multiple true stories... but in the end you never tell me what you mean by "BOOK".  I ask you politely and with reason (the question is relevant) what you mean by "book", all you needed to do was say something about written words on pages or in digital format for a person to read in sequential order..etc. you get the point.  But you refuse to do so... and keep talking about what informs the book, how it made you feel. etc.

 

 

Why wont you define what you mean by "rights"?

 

Note: Listing off a bunch of rights is not a definition of rights. 

 

 

PLEASE will you define what YOU mean when you say "rights"... Does it have a rational meaning to you?  Do you KNOW what you mean?  If you cannot define what you think you know and mean what does it mean to know something you cannot define?  Is the idea vague in your mind?  Is it a feeling? an intuition? a revelation?  This is no insult I'm being dead serious here.  Please be honest.

 

 

PS: How can you say you want to play in the Objectivist sandbox when you repeatedly/continually ignore Objectivist ethics?  Ethics IS the foundation of Politics and any consideration of society, rights etc.  Objectivist ethics is founded on  "self-interest", the proper beneficiary of morality is the self,  and Objectivism rejects altruism.  You really should start from there to make any and all of your arguments re. rights.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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I've started a new thread to help solidify that concept; the Root of Rights.

By the time it's done, anyone participating should see how they apply to any particular question. I think.

En garde! =P

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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...

Why wont you define what you mean by "rights"?

...

 

I thought I did, and that you had already responded to it...

 

"By common definition, the word right means: 1) morally good, justified, or acceptable, and 2) true or correct as a fact." (post #90)

 

"As such to answer DA, 1) morality is not additional to 2) correctness, it is a specific form of correctness." (post #93)

 

From that point forward I have been addressing the right to life with you as "a specific form of correctness."

 

...

PLEASE will you define what YOU mean when you say "rights"... Does it have a rational meaning to you?  Do you KNOW what you mean?  If you cannot define what you think you know and mean what does it mean to know something you cannot define?  Is the idea vague in your mind?  Is it a feeling? an intuition? a revelation?  This is no insult I'm being dead serious here.  Please be honest.

...

 

I have been honest.  As stated, I'm questioning the "necessary exclusion" of non-humans from a right to life as a means of taking from them what is not ethically permissible to take from humans, i.e., the unearned.  What I'm looking for is a more ethically consistent version of the trader principle applied interspecies, or failing that, justification for a human claim of dominion over animals that doesn't primarily rely on Genesis 1:26.

 

Edit: My current position is that liberty rights are reflected in the actions of animals, therefore objectively discoverable by behavioral observation.  This provides a narrow foundation upon which a right to life can be inferred, without implying any obligation to act on behalf of others.  Unless there's any serious objection to this, I consider the matter fairly well settled.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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I thought I did, and that you had already responded to it...

 

"By common definition, the word right means: 1) morally good, justified, or acceptable, and 2) true or correct as a fact." (post #90)

 

"As such to answer DA, 1) morality is not additional to 2) correctness, it is a specific form of correctness." (post #93)

 

From that point forward I have been addressing the right to life with you as "a specific form of correctness."

 

 

I have been honest.  As stated, I'm questioning the "necessary exclusion" of non-humans from a right to life as a means of taking from them what is not ethically permissible to take from humans, i.e., the unearned.  What I'm looking for is a more ethically consistent version of the trader principle applied interspecies, or failing that, justification for a human claim of dominion over animals that doesn't primarily rely on Genesis 1:26.

 

Edit: My current position is that liberty rights are reflected in the actions of animals, therefore objectively discoverable by behavioral observation.  This provides a narrow foundation upon which a right to life can be inferred, without implying any obligation to act on behalf of others.  Unless there's any serious objection to this, I consider the matter fairly well settled.

 

You seem to be confusing "right" with "rights".

 

Morality and the concepts of "right" and "wrong" are part of ethics, and are pre-political.  The concept of "rights" arises in a social context and are part of politics.  These are founded on ethics but do not form part of ethics.

 

 

Could you try again?

 

What do you mean by rights?  Please provide a simple and direct answer in your own words.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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DA

Does your position suggest that animal rights are similar to human rights? Or is it(are they) the sole 'right to life'?

 

Bearing in mind that humans are animals, my position is that there is necessarily a root interspecies right to life from which all other rights flow.  That is not to say that animals are transformed into humans by sharing a rudimentary right to life, nor to imply that humans have any duty to secure animal rights.  It is to say that whatever value humans assign to animal life recognizes the fact that every animal is an end in itself, and without any duty to sacrifice itself to human need, or enslave itself to human dominion.

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You seem to be confusing "right" with "rights".

 

Morality and the concepts of "right" and "wrong" are part of ethics, and are pre-political.  The concept of "rights" arises in a social context and are part of politics.  These are founded on ethics but do not form part of ethics.

 

Could you try again?

 

What do you mean by rights?  Please provide a simple and direct answer in your own words.

 

I agree that the concept of rights arises in a social context, but disagree that a right to life is delimited to a social context, in particular a human social context.  It's all well and good to develop rights of interaction, but if human rights are indeed delimited to human society, what exactly entitles them to reach outside of that society to impose duties on non-humans?

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 what exactly entitles them to reach outside of that society to impose duties on non-humans?

 

want, desire ,need?

 

Exactly...

 

Now, what exactly is the morality of one who takes something they haven't earned from another on the basis of, "want, desire, need?"

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To treat all men as an end in themselves, instead of a means to your end, has already been advocated by a certain philosopher.

 

Are you aware of whose idea it was, DA, or what the logical implications are?  Let's follow that notion through to its conclusion as it applies to other human beings, before we start finding its application to animals.

 

What would commerce look like, if you treated those who employ you and those who sell to you as ends-in-themselves?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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Nice thoughts...

 

and WHAT do you mean when you say "rights"?

 

Thank you, and the same as before.  In a state of nature, a liberty right can be inferred by the existence and behavior of any particular animal; nature provides oppertunity without obligation.  The meaning of a right to life, is understood to be the right to ones own life, and not a license to all other life.  At best one can claim a right to defend ones life from others, which means to defend ones property.

 

Look at it this way, if I drive to your house and assert that the car is mine, I'm still obligated to produce a legitimate title to it if challenged on my right to own it.  If I simply stand before you and assert that this body is mine, what additional title do I require?  It is in fact self-evident that your body is yours, and it follows that my body is mine; possession is absolute.  You may force me to raise my arms, but you cannot animate them without my will.

 

So what does it mean to claim as property that which you cannot animate without coercion?

 

Back latter...

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To treat all men as an end in themselves, instead of a means to your end, has already been advocated by a certain philosopher.

 

Are you aware of whose idea it was, DA, or what the logical implications are?  Let's follow that notion through to its conclusion as it applies to other human beings, before we start finding its application to animals.

 

What would commerce look like, if you treated those who employ you and those who sell to you as ends-in-themselves?

 

There are at least two philosophers who expressed the view that man is an end in himself, and both were members of the human species, i.e., man.  The sentiment only has credibility to the degree that interactions work to mutual benefit, rather than promote theft.

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The philosopher I was referring to was Immanuel Kant.  If you want to see the concrete application of treating all men as "ends in themselves" look at the Statist expectations of doctors, in both theory and practice; look at welfare Statism.

Concerning self-ownership, I can't use the paste function at the moment (I think it's my browser) but you should google Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and fMRI's.  Don't reject the possibilities out of hand.  They are based on sound science.  I know it seems abhorrent at first glance but think it through; analyze the implications very carefully.

 

I think it's not so much anything you don't know yet as it is something you believe that's getting in your way.

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DA

In #317 you said you didn't think rights were delimited to a societal context.

Would an isolated man be a political animal or a moral animal , or neither or both?

I would call a thief a man who takes the unearned property of another man.

Predators end the life of their prey , I don't believe there can be a normative description of that fact. It is outside the sphere of ethics. Man is the only animal capable of cruelty and given the volitional nature of action does fall within the sphere of ethics. Cruelty or wanton disregard for suffering toward non human animals is immoral and therefore wrong, imo . That said rights as I understand the concept only pertain to human animals in societal contexts. The concept of rights as you apply the term just doesn't make sense to me.

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@ tadmjones, et al,

 

With regard to a isolated man, I agree with Ayn Rand's assessment:

"You who prattle that morality is social and that man would need no morality on a desert island—it is on a desert island that he would need it most." ~ Morality, ARL

 

But I disagree that man is uniquely "moral", "rational" or even "contractural", when compared by behavior to other animals.  I've already provided enough material to counter those kinds of claims, so I won't address this further here.  At this point the issue is really what logical claim can man forward to justify dominion over all non-humans?  The idea that social rights generated and secured by human society have any bearing in the wild is highly dubious.  If all rights are delimited to a human societal context, then obviously those rights cannot impose a duty on non-humans, who aren't members of that society, to surrender themselves as property.

 

Earlier on, softwareNerd commented to the effect that humans have a right to be wrong, and I agree to the degree that ones immorality is focused at oneself.  But the idea of a moral man being ethically validated to abuse non-human living property is disturbing, to say the least.  An action cannot be moral and immoral in the same context without producing moral ambiguity.  I'm not advocating a duty to intercede, but when one witnesses abuse, is one morally obligated to look away and become an apologist for immorality?  It's difficult to imagine an ethical claim that promotes the abuse of others, and in that context does it really matter if the abuse is directed at ones child or ones pet?

 

So execise your rational mind and make a choice.  Either a moral man in the wild interacts with moral agents, or he acts only as a predator, albeit a particularily formidable one.  I believe one can infer a liberty right from behavioral observation, and if that is the case, a man can then reach out of his societal context to establish ethical interaction with those animals he depends on for food, clothing, medicine, etc., rather than taking things he hasn't earned from those who suffer the loss.

 

Edit:  Thanks all for your consideration and feedback.  I think I've taken enough of your time on this issue.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Again, our lives have been improved by providing safe sanctuary for cows, pigs, chickens, lamb, and rabbit. In my home state, there are buffalo and bison farms, dedicated to the same end.

 

If we, as a specie, were truly concerned about 'endangered species', the resolution would be: Put them on the menu.

Note: There are no shortages in the former list, and the latter is sure to propagate if the desire reaches sustainable levels.

An interesting side note discovered looking up information on silkworms, the process is such that the Bombyx Mori silkworms have become totally dependent on human domestication - there are none of these particular silkworms found in the wild.

Note: This spoiler is not for the skirmish.

10 days after the eggs are laid, a silkworm's life consists of happily gorging themselves on the mulberry leaves their 'enslaved' human providers are expected to bring them for 35 days before spending 3 days spinning themselves a cocoon of silk. From what is documented, none of these silkworms try to escape, revolt, or otherwise assert their grasp of a "right to life". 16 days later, most of them are boiled alive to prevent the hatching process from transpiring where the newly emerging moth produces an alkaline solution to make a hole in the cocoon by which to exit, a process which discolors the silk. Females with their roughly 500 unfertilized eggs allowed to emerge in order to sustain the process, secretes a hormone to which the males, which are allowed to emerge, are drawn - completing the cycle. This 'enslavement' of human beings by these moths has reportedly been going on for thousands of years.

Edited by dream_weaver

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