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Old 12th June 2018, 11:12 AM   #1
I Am The Scum
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Please Defend Transcendental Human Rights

On this forum, it is common for the concept of human rights to come up. Whether we’re talking about gun ownership, abortion, or privacy, this side discussion is likely to arise, and when it does, it almost always becomes a jumbled mess of people talking past one another. So I’m making this thread as an opportunity for those who believe in transcendental human rights to make their case.

So what exactly are we talking about here? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure, because I don’t believe in transcendental rights, nor do I know precisely what others are referencing when they invoke them. But I can nail down what we are not here to discuss.
  1. Human rights are a government/legal construct. A right is something that I am legally permitted to do. In the United States, I am allowed to voice my displeasure with the government. In North Korea, I do not have that right.
  2. Human rights are certain principles that, when reflected by human actions, tend to enhance prosperity. If we all behave as though humans have a right to bodily autonomy, then we will avoid assaulting one another, and then everyone will be happier and safer as a result.

Almost certainly, most people would agree that both of these concepts of human rights are sound, and so they do not really need to be debated. I am making this thread about “transcendental” rights because there are some people who believe that human rights are something more than the two examples above.

Perhaps these rights are a physical fact of the universe, like the gravitational constant. Maybe they an inherent facet of human nature. Or, they might be special privileges bestowed by God himself.

Whatever the case may be, if you are a proponent of transcendental human rights, then there’s a few questions I’d like you to answer.
  1. Can you give a definition of human rights?
  2. How do you know these rights exist?
  3. The American founding fathers believed that we were all endowed with “certain unalienable rights,” yet they also believed that slave-ownership did not conflict with those rights. How can we pinpoint their error?
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Old 12th June 2018, 12:03 PM   #2
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Old 12th June 2018, 12:46 PM   #3
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I am not going to worry about Transcendental Human Rights until I become a Transcendental Human.

After that, then I will gladly participate in Transcendental Gay Pride Parades, the Transcendental Suffrage Movement, the Transcendental Civil Rights Marches, and so on.
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Old 12th June 2018, 01:39 PM   #4
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It certainly is a complex question, with too many possible answers to make great sense of. I think if one is going to defend transcendental rights, one has first to believe there is something transcendental. My own feeling is that rights are a social construct, but that certain fundamental rights are also close to universal because no society can persist without them.

I would not quite agree with your initial definitions, though I have not thought too hard about what best to replace them with. Rights are presumably things that are legal to do or to be, but they are also, more or less by definition, things about which no legal definition needs to be made except in the sense of legally protecting them.

It is debatable also whether a right must or should involve any specific goal such as prosperity, though that may well be an element in the initial decision of what is and is not a right. Once defined, I think rights might well be thought of as being specifically exempt from utilitarian considerations that might be applied to other legal issues.

As to how you know a right exists, one suggestion I've seen is that you know it exists when it survives a challenge. There is a paradoxical sense in which a right, though it is generally considered to be inherent, is only actually defined when someone tries to take it away. If a right is not challenged, it may be presumed to exist in the abstract, but it is not defined.

To pick a silly example, we have the right to breathe on Tuesday mornings, but it is not defined anywhere unless someone suggests that we can't, or tries to prevent it. Everyone who is presumed to have the right to live has the right to breathe on Tuesday mornings, whether or not it does anyone any good. If you have the right to live, you do not have to ask permission to breathe at any given time. Although we might initially define rights in terms of whether they have utility, once a right is defined, it is presumed that everyone in whatever group it applies to has that right without having to qualify or ask for it, or to demonstrate a need.

As for the third part, about being endowed with inalienable rights, of course one can get very involved with the sin and error and contradiction and self-deception of it all, but one fairly simplistic way of looking at it is that one only has to define who "we" are. Though one can argue until the cows come home about the sense and propriety of it, if the founding fathers decided that "we" are white males, and women and black people are "them," then they can say we have rights that they don't, and the error is in the definition of the group, not of the group's rights.
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Old 12th June 2018, 02:58 PM   #5
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I like the game theory model, if you consider that any class/privilege/benefit can be taken away then the base line of protections matter.
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Old 12th June 2018, 07:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
On this forum, it is common for the concept of human rights to come up. Whether we’re talking about gun ownership, abortion, or privacy, this side discussion is likely to arise, and when it does, it almost always becomes a jumbled mess of people talking past one another. So I’m making this thread as an opportunity for those who believe in transcendental human rights to make their case.

So what exactly are we talking about here? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure, because I don’t believe in transcendental rights, nor do I know precisely what others are referencing when they invoke them. But I can nail down what we are not here to discuss.
  1. Human rights are a government/legal construct. A right is something that I am legally permitted to do. In the United States, I am allowed to voice my displeasure with the government. In North Korea, I do not have that right.
  2. Human rights are certain principles that, when reflected by human actions, tend to enhance prosperity. If we all behave as though humans have a right to bodily autonomy, then we will avoid assaulting one another, and then everyone will be happier and safer as a result.

Almost certainly, most people would agree that both of these concepts of human rights are sound, and so they do not really need to be debated. I am making this thread about “transcendental” rights because there are some people who believe that human rights are something more than the two examples above.

Perhaps these rights are a physical fact of the universe, like the gravitational constant. Maybe they an inherent facet of human nature. Or, they might be special privileges bestowed by God himself.

Whatever the case may be, if you are a proponent of transcendental human rights, then there’s a few questions I’d like you to answer.
  1. Can you give a definition of human rights?
  2. How do you know these rights exist?
  3. The American founding fathers believed that we were all endowed with “certain unalienable rights,” yet they also believed that slave-ownership did not conflict with those rights. How can we pinpoint their error?
Surely, the notion of transcendental or natural rights presuppose an objective morality. I can't make any sense of transcendental rights without a kind of objective view of right and wrong. To have a right means that it is wrong for others to act in certain ways.

So, insofar as one accepts that there are objective moral claims, one might derive what you call transcendental rights. But if one rejects that there are objective moral claims, then such rights are just a non-starter. There is no sense in which one has an objective right to such-and-such unless there is a sense in which some actions are morally acceptable and others wrong.
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Old 12th June 2018, 10:50 PM   #7
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I think even the most basic and seemingly transcendental rights are excepted from time to time. We might consider the right to live and breathe and eat as fundamental and inalienable, but it's not necessarily true if there's slavery, war, or human sacrifice. We invent transcendance, and violate it when it suits us.

But we also must remember the basic truth that just because values are relative does not thus mean that they are not values.

But even if you can find a right that seems transcendant, I think you need to watch out for unwarranted implications. It's true also that human beings have two legs, and this quality is essentially universal and presumptive, but that does not necessarily mean that some god made it so.
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Old 12th June 2018, 11:18 PM   #8
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I think the word transcendental is too vague a term and cannot be pinned down enough. I don't think I am, or do, or think anything transcendental.
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Old 13th June 2018, 04:09 AM   #9
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Rights are a societal construct that have no meaning outside of what society gives them. As a result, transcendent rights would simply be rights that one society believe applies to other societies whether those societies want them to or not. In short, transcendent rights are simply an abstract construct with no independent existence.
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Old 13th June 2018, 10:57 AM   #10
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The irony is that the pro-slavery states believed that THEIR inalienable rights were violated if the central federal government tells them what to do.

Though I think the bigger irony is that it discrimination was still going strong even as liberty and democracy were a LOT more waved around later. In fact those who were most agitating for freedom and democracy in the mid-20'th century, actually needed a couple more decades to figure out that it kinda should apply to blacks too, and even a couple more to figure out that women kinda should have the same rights too.

But seriously, one of the reasons of the rise of fascism in Japan in the '30s, was the increasing realization that the rest of the world sees it as a bunch of subhumans. Racism and the scare of miscegenation weren't even on the decline, they were actually on the rise. A whole bunch of states had just enacted laws making it flat out illegal for a proper white to marry an Asian or Filipino.

So, yeah, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but only if you're not Black, Asian or Filipino, in which case F.U. Except not literally, because that would be miscegenation.

The popularity of Eugenics (and Social Darwinism at that) was also on the rise. By 1936 (which I researched only because it was the year mentioned in another thread,) a whole 31 out of 48 states had eugenics laws, and you could for example have an abortion forced upon you for having low IQ or being in prison or such. So, yeah, if you thought Idiocracy makes a valid point... yeah, so did they. That was the point that got people sterilized or women inmates just marched at gunpoint to have an abortion done to them.

Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness... and THAT. I don't imagine it brought a lot of happiness, to be honest.

Don't get me wrong, this is not particularly against the USA. I only mention it because the founding fathers got mentioned. Just saying that a LOT more people had no problem thinking that THEY have inalienable rights, but YOU lot don't. In fact that their inalienable rights include the right to be above you inferior lot.
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Old 13th June 2018, 01:41 PM   #11
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I think it is very hard to argue for human rights in a universal sense except in a kind of heuristic legal sense - when humans are allowed to self-determine as a group, they tend to agree on certain basic protections for themselves and their kin. If you then accept that all humans have certain basic traits in common, this seems to suggest that such protections ought to extend to humanity as a whole.

But in my opinion, making an actually rigorous argument for that is nearly impossible.
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Old 13th June 2018, 02:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
I think it is very hard to argue for human rights in a universal sense except in a kind of heuristic legal sense - when humans are allowed to self-determine as a group, they tend to agree on certain basic protections for themselves and their kin. If you then accept that all humans have certain basic traits in common, this seems to suggest that such protections ought to extend to humanity as a whole.

But in my opinion, making an actually rigorous argument for that is nearly impossible.
I think that's the issue here. Of course we can point to nearly universal rules of survival and civility, that we can retroactively consider transcendental, but consensus is not transcendence. What happens if you stumble into a society where, say, you're excluded from the rights-holding group? Or if, for example, you time travelled and landed in a place where the leaders choose random children, cut their hearts out and sacrifice them to the gods? Even if you can put up a good argument for why those things are wrong, the things you might once have thought were rights are certainly alienable.
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Old 13th June 2018, 08:48 PM   #13
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An incorrect prediction of results can certainly be determined "wrong" when taking away "rights" in the process. Keep in mind that one can be "objectively" wrong about predictions even if an objective morality doesn't exist. We can say definitively that something is "wrong" in this case. If it objectively does not serve the stated purpose, then I don't think it's a stretch to call it objectively unethical (after the fact, if necessary).

I don't know if that's "transcendental" enough to make the case you desire, however. It's just an attempt to define something which is objectively immoral. Most ethics aren't quite so easy to establish, and even this one often requires the analysis to be hindsight (as most ethical analysis is, anyway). I think ethics are frequently a matter of "don't do that again" and/or "don't do what that other guy did." Not always, but quite frequently. The rest is mostly an extract made from those.

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Old 14th June 2018, 06:01 AM   #14
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Actually, there's an even bigger problem there. The problem is that all that is seen through an "us vs them" lens.

Sure, everyone will be all for "US" having inalienable right. We might however not be for "THEM" getting rights.

In fact, that's how you convince people to vote for stuff that's against their own interests: you tell them that some other "THEM" group will be get hit harder by it. Tell some idiot on minimum wage that some unspecified black woman somewhere is living large on 7 child support benefits, and he'll DEMAND that you cut his own benefits to show that imaginary bitch what he thinks of that crap.

But really, it's not even about modern day politics. Ever since we have a written history, we people were always more than happy to have clear laws and rights for "US", but screw "THEM" sideways.

E.g., there's evidence for example in Aristotle that some Greeks thought that Greeks shouldn't be taken into slavery. We know that because he explicitly says so and answers that objection. So yeah, none of that crap for the "US" group. But take the "barbarians" up north into slavery? Strangely nobody in the whole body of literature from ancient Greece seems to have needed to address an objection about those.

E.g., the "US" group of free men in ancient Greece had a right to defend themselves in a court of law. But if you were a woman, you couldn't even speak in court at all. If you found yourself tried, either your husband or father spoke for you, or if not, only your accuser would speak. 'Cause, you know, worshpping Athena, the goddess of wisdom, in her city of Athens, didn't mean one would also believe something as preposterous as that a human woman would be able to even say something articulate and/or making any sense.

E.g., the "US" group of free men in ancient Greece decided that they have a right to never be tortured for information. But the "THEM" group of subhuman slaves? Well, duh, you HAVE to torture brutally them if you want to get any reliable information out of them. I mean, it would be less moral to NOT torture them and possibly let an evildoer get away with whatever evildoing he did, just because you were too squeamish to torture a few slaves to get to the bottom of it.

Etc.

So, yeah, THAT is the problem. The biggest roadblock on the road to deciding what rights WE have, is the idea that, wait, those a-holes get them too? Well, SCREW THEM!
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Old 14th June 2018, 11:53 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
So what exactly are we talking about here? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure, because I don’t believe in transcendental rights, nor do I know precisely what others are referencing when they invoke them.
Well that should make for a clear unambiguous discussion.
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Old 15th June 2018, 10:05 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Well that should make for a clear unambiguous discussion.
Yes, I to am looking out for a definition of a transcendental human right and the difference between an ordinary human right and a transcendental one.
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Old 15th June 2018, 10:38 AM   #17
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Well, I would think that a transcendental right wouldn't be a human right, because it's transcendental; and being transcendental, it would extend beyond any species, planet, galaxy or time.
Unless what is meant are inherent built-in human rights - but there should be a different descriptor for such a right than transcendental.
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Old 15th June 2018, 10:55 AM   #18
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It occurred to me that there's a way to flip the question on its head. If we want to prosecute international crime, crimes against humanity, et cetera, then a notion of universal human rights is practically a necessity. The question then becomes about how to establish them, not whether they exist.
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Old 15th June 2018, 11:05 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by SusanB-M1 View Post
Yes, I to am looking out for a definition of a transcendental human right and the difference between an ordinary human right and a transcendental one.
If I were to speculate, I might define "transcendental" rights as those assigned to human beings by a higher being or beings.

If human beings were created by or otherwise owned by the higher beings then the nearest analogy I could come up with would be "property rights". Anybody having responsibility for this property would have a duty to keep the property safe from harm if it is in their power to do so. Those who do not have any association with this property still have a duty to avoid harming the property.

You could probably come up with most human rights from a definition like this.
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Old 15th June 2018, 12:20 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by LarryS View Post
Well, I would think that a transcendental right wouldn't be a human right, because it's transcendental; and being transcendental, it would extend beyond any species, planet, galaxy or time.
Unless what is meant are inherent built-in human rights - but there should be a different descriptor for such a right than transcendental.
If one buys an objective view of morality, then such rights apply to all and only morally considerable beings. Which beings these are depends, of course, on the theory.

Absent a commitment to objective morality, the notion of objective rights makes little sense.
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Old 15th June 2018, 02:08 PM   #21
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TubbaBlubba actually has a good point.

But I can think of at least one "transcendental" human right. It's a universal right of all living things, actually: The right of molon labe.
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Old 15th June 2018, 07:59 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
TubbaBlubba actually has a good point.

But I can think of at least one "transcendental" human right. It's a universal right of all living things, actually: The right of molon labe.
True, in a sense, though it brings up some interesting and probably ultimately unanswerable issues of whether a right must be meaningful to be a right, and whether it matters if there's an afterlife, and whether a right is still a right if it gets you killed.

But maybe that's the only place we'll find transcendental rights, at that very edge. You do, always, after all, have the right to die trying.
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Old 15th June 2018, 08:26 PM   #23
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Is that kind of like the right to get away with anything you're never caught at? I'm not sure if that would count as transcendent; more like inherent in the nature of the system.

Inherent rights are the rights we wish other people didn't have, but can't figure out how to take away. Like the right to not give a ****. Or the right to declare victory and flounce. (Religions are full of attempts to narrate those rights away. "You never got caught? Au contraire; [God is omniscient] / [karma is automated] and will punish you eventually." "You don't give a ****? You will, after the first few years/millennia/eons of eternal torment in hell."
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Old 15th June 2018, 08:46 PM   #24
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Transcendental rights have something in common with free will. Based purely on logic, and on a scientific worldview, I cannot come up with any reason to believe in either one. However, if either of them do not exist, life is pretty meaningless. In the case of inherent human rights, or transcendental rights, or natural rights, if I have no right to life, then killing is no sin. Hitler was just a guy with an idea that didn't work out, but he did nothing "wrong", because what would it mean to do something wrong? He didn't deprive anyone of their rights, because there are no rights.

So, maybe they exist and maybe they don't, but if they do exist, we should recognize them, and if they don't, it will do no harm to pretend they do.


Q.E.D.


Originally Posted by I Am The Scum View Post
  1. Can you give a definition of human rights?
  2. How do you know these rights exist?
  3. The American founding fathers believed that we were all endowed with “certain unalienable rights,” yet they also believed that slave-ownership did not conflict with those rights. How can we pinpoint their error?

1. Transcendental rights are rights that each human has merely by virtue of being human. They are not granted by a government, but a moral government recognizes their existence. To abridge transcendental rights of another human is immoral and an offense against nature.

2. See above. I don't, but they might, and it makes me happy to assume that they do.


3. Among the rights they believed we are endowed with is liberty. Slaves were deprived of that right. (They were also frequently deprived of the right to pursue happiness and the right to life.) It's not hard to pinpoint that error.


It's interesting, now that I think about it, that I have never seen writings in which a supporter of slavery specifically addressed that question. I suppose they would have said some variation on the idea that black people weren't really people at all. Cognitive dissonance existed before the label was invented.
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Old 15th June 2018, 10:18 PM   #25
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I disagree with two that it has to be something that enhances prosperity. I'm willing to argue for rights that hurt prosperity.
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Old 15th June 2018, 10:23 PM   #26
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Molon labe helps prosperity for the lion even as it hurts prosperity for the gazelle. Unless the gazelle outruns the lion. Then the help and the hurt are reversed. But the right remains the same.

And what of the wolf, the sheep, and the sheepdog? Molon labe for each of those.
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Old 15th June 2018, 10:33 PM   #27
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I think people are getting too hung up on the word, "transcendental".

I think all the OP means by it, in practical terms, is "rights you can justify imposing on someone else".

I think everyone is so busy speculating on where rights come from that they've forgotten the point of the OP: To defend the idea of imposing your rights on others.

The question can also be inverted: I claim the right to pursuit of happiness. Why shouldn't I pursue happiness at your expense?
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Old 15th June 2018, 11:04 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I think people are getting too hung up on the word, "transcendental".

I think all the OP means by it, in practical terms, is "rights you can justify imposing on someone else".

I think everyone is so busy speculating on where rights come from that they've forgotten the point of the OP: To defend the idea of imposing your rights on others.

The question can also be inverted: I claim the right to pursuit of happiness. Why shouldn't I pursue happiness at your expense?
It's probably true that we get too hung up on some things, especially when they are not well defined to begin with. But I think it's interesting to try to figure out if there are rights that are not created by a social agreement, or that do not need to be justified.

I suspect that although most of us who consider ourelves civilized could agree on a bunch, it is just an agreement, and exceptions can always seem to be found; and that, rather discouragingly, the one right that can be broadly considered truly inalienable is that broadly implied by "molon labe," which is essentially to go down fighting.
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Old 15th June 2018, 11:21 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
It's probably true that we get too hung up on some things, especially when they are not well defined to begin with. But I think it's interesting to try to figure out if there are rights that are not created by a social agreement, or that do not need to be justified.

I suspect that although most of us who consider ourelves civilized could agree on a bunch, it is just an agreement, and exceptions can always seem to be found; and that, rather discouragingly, the one right that can be broadly considered truly inalienable is that broadly implied by "molon labe," which is essentially to go down fighting.
Jesus Christ. I asked a question. If you're going to quote the question, could you at least devote some of your verbosity to answering it? That's what this thread is about, after all.
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Old 16th June 2018, 12:26 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The question can also be inverted: I claim the right to pursuit of happiness. Why shouldn't I pursue happiness at your expense?
Because you live in a social environment in which you need to convince others not to pursue their happiness at your expense. How can you do so without developing a framework in which you are both considered equal parties to whatever rights are under discussion?

Having negotiated a framework for discussion you will probably find that you can also negotiate a set of rights that sometimes does allow you to pursue your happiness at their expense (and vice versa) when the damage to them is considerably less than the value you get out of it.

That's one answer. My own answer is that I consider the experiences of conscious beings, including but not limited to myself, to be of moral value, and when assessing the morality of my actions I take that into account. That's a little harder to argue, though, and I also think the former explanation is actually closer to where so called rights came from historically, though the latter may also be involved.
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Old 16th June 2018, 04:40 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I think people are getting too hung up on the word, "transcendental".

I think all the OP means by it, in practical terms, is "rights you can justify imposing on someone else".

I think everyone is so busy speculating on where rights come from that they've forgotten the point of the OP: To defend the idea of imposing your rights on others.

The question can also be inverted: I claim the right to pursuit of happiness. Why shouldn't I pursue happiness at your expense?
Actually, I think transcendental is exactly the important part, since the OP is explicitly stated that he's not interested in discussing rights given by a government or other societal constructs. So essentially you're saying that we're too hung up on the actual thread. Err... ok...
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Old 16th June 2018, 08:51 AM   #32
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I am capable of a wide array of actions. No one can stop me from performing the vast majority of those actions.

Coming together to live in a mutually beneficial society requires that some of those actions be punished and/or prevented so that we can maintain order and peace. The US Constitution, in essence, is such a social contract that acknowledges the basic fact that humans can do anything they want to do and creates a framework that restrains the government from punishing or attempting to prevent people from carrying out those actions except in some narrowly defined instances -when our elected representatives draft legislation that we, in effect, agree to voluntarily abide by.

Other governments, NK for example, have frameworks that prescribe punishments and prevention of a much broader array of human actions. These rules are imposed by the person(s) with the strength (enough people willing to protect the leadership) without representation.

No matter how permissive/restrictive,
voluntary/subjugated a society is, however, the fact remains that individuals still have the basic ability to carry out just about any action they want to. The ability to act in any way we choose, regardless of whether or not society will punish us for that action, could be considered THE only “transcendental” right that matters.




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Old 16th June 2018, 03:26 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Jesus Christ. I asked a question. If you're going to quote the question, could you at least devote some of your verbosity to answering it? That's what this thread is about, after all.
I made the mistake of consider the question rhetorical (as well as not bothering to snip it out of the part of your post I was responding to), since the issue of conflicting rights has been argued ad nauseam forever all over the place, and that includes those whose idea of their origin allows for transcendence. Where those boundaries are is clearly a social construct. Most would agree the right of free speech does not include yelling "fire in a crowded theater," fewer on expressions of hatred or incitement, fewer still on insensitivity and triggering. But none of the limitations on a right need disqualify it as a right, or as a transcendent one if you're so inclined.

I thought the thread was about the origin of rights, not their administration.
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Old 16th June 2018, 07:52 PM   #34
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A truly transcendental human right should be impossible to abrogate. Thus we would tend to perceive transcendental human rights as physical laws.

Unless acted upon by forces, you have the right to remain at rest, or if already in motion, to remain in motion.

You have the right to accelerate toward masses in proportion to the inverse square of their distances (unless restrained by other forces also acting upon you, of course).

You have the right to measure a constant speed of light regardless of your own velocity.
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Old 16th June 2018, 11:32 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
A truly transcendental human right should be impossible to abrogate. Thus we would tend to perceive transcendental human rights as physical laws.

Unless acted upon by forces, you have the right to remain at rest, or if already in motion, to remain in motion.

You have the right to accelerate toward masses in proportion to the inverse square of their distances (unless restrained by other forces also acting upon you, of course).

You have the right to measure a constant speed of light regardless of your own velocity.
I sincerely wish you'd post more often. This is concise, yet epic in its profundity.
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Old 17th June 2018, 07:46 AM   #36
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Well, I think the only right that can be sorta argue as being sorta transcendental is not killing each other, since most of us are hard wired with those mirror neurons. People tend not to shoot at each other even when they're in a war and the other guy is shooting at them, and to get PTSD when they actually frag a guy.

In fact, it's so strong, that even being a sociopath isn't enough. You have to score up to psychopath to actually shoot to kill and not get a problem with it if you do. No, seriously, in the study about how many were actually firing a weapon AT an enemy way back, the 2% that did were evenly divided between psychopaths and those who were willing to kill to protect their mates, out of some exaggerated sense of responsibility. The latter tended to get PTSD though.

Since that wiring is not dependent on any social constructs or governments, I guess one could argue that it's transcendental enough. Yes, there are exceptions, but basically if literally 99% of people are wired that way (and I use "literally" very literally there: all but about 1% have that wiring very much functional,) it's good enough. It certainly clears the null hypothesis.

It kinda goes downhill from there, though. What about personally and physically hurting another? Well, there go 1 or 2 more percents. Still, I guess it does clear the null hypothesis.

How about theft? Well, no animal evolved any kind of wiring to respect private property, or really a notion of private property. How about cheating someone on a restaurant bill? Turns out actually the majority of people WILL lie to save a dollar or two, when they think they can get away with it, and I guess if it's not face to face. How about work ethic or just not being an a-hole boss? Well, turns out that even people just role-playing a boss tend to end up thinking they deserve to get more and work less. Etc.
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Old 17th June 2018, 08:16 AM   #37
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The OP is correct. The issue is with the very idea that "human rights" have to come from some transcendent place to be meaningful. It's a problem most all discussions of morality have, an almost fetishistic aversion to functionality. It's one of those discussions that simply attracts swarms of those lovely people that delight in dragging discussions down into the weeds and beating them to death with cricket bats with "Pointless Recursions" and "Semantic Quibbling" written on them.

So we're left where far too many discussions get to and get stuck at; either the base questions of what is a good human conditions has to be handed down chiseled into stone from the burning bush or it's a totally random and arbitrary standard.

I squared this circle for myself a long time ago. Once you start looking at morality as simply a skill, something that individuals and society develop just like everything else, all this hand wringing goes away. You can be right or wrong about without saying you go the answers from a voice from the clouds.

Humans are social creatures. We pretty much need to interact with other humans to some degree. We are happier, healthier, and more productive as part of some form of group. Group dynamics that cause less suffering are better. That's not a faith based statement. "Prove to me that a society in which people are not living in misery is better" is sociopathic absurdism.

Human social interactions are complicated, fiendishly so. There's plenty of monkey wrenches into the machinery of even the best society, but as always complicated is not the code word for random, arbitrary and standard-less that so many people see it as.

Outside of outlandish and inane gotchas like "Now prove to me suffering is bad!" or absurdist manufactured hypotheticals of the "Oh yeah well what's your morality say if there's two people tied to a railroad track and you can turn the switch but on the other track but one of them has a 1 in 50 chance of going back in time to kill Hitler over an infinite plane of uniform gravity in a friction-less vacuum while crossing the international date line after the quarterback has called for a fair catch while the pinch hitter rule in effect on opposite day while...." variety a base level of discussion of what reduces the suffering people and make societies work better isn't nearly as esoteric as the discussion always makes it out to be.
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Old 17th June 2018, 08:49 AM   #38
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That outlook is great for telling me why I should be in favour of other people harbouring certain moral principles. It also suggests ways in which I'll be better off if society is structured in certain ways.

It doesn't, however, have anything to say about whether or not I should try to cheat those rules when I can.

According to your argument I should look out for my own enlightened self-interest, and sometimes that aligns with the interests of society. But when it doesn't, it doesn't, and in those cases you haven't given argument that suggests that I should care.
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Old 17th June 2018, 08:55 AM   #39
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Right because no society in human history has ever had to deal with selfishness, self interest, or people trying to cheat the system.

If enough people "cheat" the system, the system will adjust to account for it. What's the mystery?

How exactly does "according to my argument" not account for the system being misused?
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Old 17th June 2018, 09:09 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
A truly transcendental human right should be impossible to abrogate. Thus we would tend to perceive transcendental human rights as physical laws.

Unless acted upon by forces, you have the right to remain at rest, or if already in motion, to remain in motion.

You have the right to accelerate toward masses in proportion to the inverse square of their distances (unless restrained by other forces also acting upon you, of course).

You have the right to measure a constant speed of light regardless of your own velocity.
Clearly not what is meant by the term.

I can buy the argument that such rights don't exist, but let's not do so by equivocation.
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