What do you consider 'basic rights'?

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What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by madd0ct0r » 2020-05-28 05:22pm

Using Ralin's definition of 'a right that cannot be reduced, no matter the circumstances'

He applied it to bodily autonomy.

For me, for the common rights, I'm not sure I consider any of the below to fit the strongest basic right criteria:

That to own property, to free speech, to body integrity,

More fundamental are things I think you are always entitled to: food, water and shelter; a place in society and human contact.
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by loomer » 2020-05-28 10:39pm

madd0ct0r wrote:
2020-05-28 05:22pm
Using Ralin's definition of 'a right that cannot be reduced, no matter the circumstances'

He applied it to bodily autonomy.

For me, for the common rights, I'm not sure I consider any of the below to fit the strongest basic right criteria:

That to own property, to free speech, to body integrity,

More fundamental are things I think you are always entitled to: food, water and shelter; a place in society and human contact.
It's a definition of basic right that's fairly untenable and contrary to the accepted definitions of basic/fundamental rights, which are rights that can be infringed upon for the purposes of public order and safety where that infringement strictly necessary and proportionate to the goal. No basic right of the kind Ralin defines, save for those involving torture and murder without due process, exists in human rights law except as a pure hypothetical. Even the doctrine of natural rights admits infringements on those rights where necessary to stop their free exercise from infringing on the natural rights of others.

So, this is really a long way of saying, 'I don't think there are any'. But I'm also a skeptic of the entire concept of human rights as meaningful and effective, so I'm biased. I could stretch, I suppose, and say that the only three truly inviolable rights a human possesses are:
to be born (a retroactive right activated the moment you are born.)
to experience or generate suffering
to die.

These are the only truly guaranteed experiences that all human beings will share, the only fundamental things that cannot be infringed upon in any meaningful way by any law or action of another - but you might note that these are not 'rights' in the sense of a legally enshrined privilege, capacity, or freedom to perform an action, so much as 'rights' in the sense of a recognition of natural processes. The right to food, the right to water, the right to clean air, can be analogized as belonging to a subsequent category of similar 'innate, natural rights', differentiated from the first category in that while one needs these things to live, one is not guaranteed them. We could categorize them into a general 'right to the conditions necessary for survival', which is a fairly common approach, but while a right exists to these things, there is no actual guarantee that right will be exercised or respected.

This is why the category of truly inviolable natural rights I have put forward does not include them. One is guaranteed only to have been born (which can only be retroactive - there is no right to be born for a fetus, only for a person who has already been born, as there is no guarantee a pregnancy will be successful for any number of factors), to experience suffering, and to die. The human being who is born and dies a second later possesses and exercises these rights, but not the rights to food, water, or clean air due to a lack of opportunity to exercise them.

This, of course, is a concept of 'right' that is very distinct from that meant by most people when they invoke the language of rights, but that's the point. A right that exists but is not respected or exercised is effectively meaningless, even if it 'exists' on paper. If we're to drill down into the absolutely fundamental rights that cannot be infringed upon in any circumstance then we are left with very strange rights indeed, as all others are routinely subject to infringement by law, by other human actors, and by random chance. This is why the most helpful concept of a right is one that is necessarily (as it cannot be meaningful otherwise) delimited as an obligation by others rather than a right of the possessor in isolation - 'you must not perform any action that will stop another person from living' as opposed to a general 'people have a right to be alive' - and for that reason most serious examinations of the concept spend most of their time detailing the obligatory correlate of the rights they discuss. The obligation of others is a much more significant expression of 'inalienable basic rights' that aren't truly inalienable, as it is not troubled by the prospect that those rights will be violated by non-human action/inaction.
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2020-05-29 02:32pm

None. Rights are a pure social construct. No society - no rights.
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by Tribble » 2020-05-29 06:00pm

K. A. Pital wrote:
2020-05-29 02:32pm
None. Rights are a pure social construct. No society - no rights.
If you don’t mind I would appreciate a more in depth explanation since there are multiple ways of viewing this.

For example, are you saying that as rights are purely social constructs they cannot be something innate or universal?

Are you saying that there shouldn’t be any basic rights and/or societies in general?

Both?

Even assuming your goal is the total overthrow of existing power / government structures and replacement by some idealized form... there would still be an underlying organizational structures of some sort. Even the most perfect of Marxist societies would have to be organized in some fashion in order to make decisions and do various tasks. Are you suggesting that even in said structures people in it should have no rights, including right to be alive?

Or maybe this is a “let the world burn” sorta thing?
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by Jub » 2020-05-29 08:36pm

Tribble wrote:
2020-05-29 06:00pm
If you don’t mind I would appreciate a more in depth explanation since there are multiple ways of viewing this.

For example, are you saying that as rights are purely social constructs they cannot be something innate or universal?

Are you saying that there shouldn’t be any basic rights and/or societies in general?

Both?

Even assuming your goal is the total overthrow of existing power / government structures and replacement by some idealized form... there would still be an underlying organizational structures of some sort. Even the most perfect of Marxist societies would have to be organized in some fashion in order to make decisions and do various tasks. Are you suggesting that even in said structures people in it should have no rights, including right to be alive?

Or maybe this is a “let the world burn” sorta thing?
Rights are very obviously specific social constructs and one's we do a very poor job of enforcing. Even the right to life isn't something we can actively enforce as we simply don't have the ability to prevent certain disasters and accidents.

Let's conduct a thought experiment where we take the right to a healthy acquired disease-free life and make that our top priority:

The best way to do that would be to have people born into highly controlled facilities where they are fed an optimal nutrition paste, exercised in classes tailored to healthy longevity, and kept away from fun but carcinogenic things like fire and natural sunlight. That doesn't sound like an amazing life does it?

So which exceptions do you write in and how do you ensure that the way they're enforced is the way you intend them to be? How about in a hundred or five-hundred years from now as social norms and our ability to protect people changes?

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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by loomer » 2020-05-30 01:58am

Tribble wrote:
2020-05-29 06:00pm
K. A. Pital wrote:
2020-05-29 02:32pm
None. Rights are a pure social construct. No society - no rights.
If you don’t mind I would appreciate a more in depth explanation since there are multiple ways of viewing this.

For example, are you saying that as rights are purely social constructs they cannot be something innate or universal?

Are you saying that there shouldn’t be any basic rights and/or societies in general?

Both?

Even assuming your goal is the total overthrow of existing power / government structures and replacement by some idealized form... there would still be an underlying organizational structures of some sort. Even the most perfect of Marxist societies would have to be organized in some fashion in order to make decisions and do various tasks. Are you suggesting that even in said structures people in it should have no rights, including right to be alive?

Or maybe this is a “let the world burn” sorta thing?
I'm not KAP but this is also the view of most serious rights scholars. There are no intrinsic or inherent rights as rights are purely a product of law and as such do not exist independently of law. There might be rights described as intrinsic to human dignity and so on, but when you drill down to it the simple truth is that since we can't locate them in the human body like a gallbladder there can be no actual right inherent to the human being that is not inherent only because a society has stated it to be. KAP is also a rights skeptic, but from a Marxist perspective rather than my post-Anarchist one, so his answer will be different.

It's why I float my bizarre 'three actual rights' concept when discussing the concept of 'rights' with students - if we were to look at the three closest biological analogues to a so-called 'inherent' right, being something that cannot be stripped away or denied any person, then we come up with only those three things, and two of them are still debatable.
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by Vendetta » 2020-06-01 11:59am

Tribble wrote:
2020-05-29 06:00pm
K. A. Pital wrote:
2020-05-29 02:32pm
None. Rights are a pure social construct. No society - no rights.
If you don’t mind I would appreciate a more in depth explanation since there are multiple ways of viewing this.

For example, are you saying that as rights are purely social constructs they cannot be something innate or universal?

Are you saying that there shouldn’t be any basic rights and/or societies in general?

Both?

Even assuming your goal is the total overthrow of existing power / government structures and replacement by some idealized form... there would still be an underlying organizational structures of some sort. Even the most perfect of Marxist societies would have to be organized in some fashion in order to make decisions and do various tasks. Are you suggesting that even in said structures people in it should have no rights, including right to be alive?

Or maybe this is a “let the world burn” sorta thing?
It's more that the concept of rights can't exist outside of a society*. Rights are about how the individual interacts with the society. What the society guarantees to each individual in terms of what it expects from them, and will and will not do to and for them. So take away the society and "rights" become an incoherent concept.

*One sufficiently advanced to have generated a de facto monopoly on force, anyway, which starts to happen roughly when they get larger than Dunbar's Number.

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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by K. A. Pital » 2020-06-02 03:42pm

Tribble wrote:
2020-05-29 06:00pm
For example, are you saying that as rights are purely social constructs they cannot be something innate or universal?
Yes. Unless a society exists, there won't be "rights". Take something Western liberals consider universal: freedom of speech. It has no meaning outside society where said speech can be (1) received (2) understood (3) subdued or silenced. Rights actually exist only in the context where their suppression or, alternatively, exercise is possible. Take from the latest: a right to breathe is only meaningful if a situation is fathomable where the possibility of breathing is taken away. "Right to breath" has no actual meaning outside this context. If a trachea of a lone tribal homo sapiens who went on a faraway journey hundreds of thousands of years ago, fails en route in the wilderness, and the homo sapiens dies, did he at that stage have a "universal right to breath" or "universal right to life"? :lol:
Are you saying that there shouldn’t be any basic rights and/or societies in general?
How did you extrapolate from the fact that rights cannot exist outside society the idea that I am saying there should not be a society, and there should be no rights?
Even assuming your goal is the total overthrow of existing power / government structures and replacement by some idealized form...
This has nothing to do with the fact no rights exist outside society and meaningful interaction with it. Even if my goal were the total upholding of the status-quo and preservation and conservation of the existing system of government, power and social relations, rights would not exist outside society. You're alone at the North Pole. There is no society. Do you have a "right" to live?

As soon as you recognize that rights do not actually exist outside society, you can also realize that society, and rights, are what we make it to be. They, like all else, are driven by the material conditions in our society. With an advanced system of social communication, the right to free speech becomes meaningful. With mass incarceration, the right to move around freely becomes meaningful. With advanced universal healthcare, a right to healthcare becomes meaningful as a concept. Without society, all these "rights" simply don't exist. There is just the existence of the self and your abilities.

Who will you, the sole inhabitant of an island at sea, demand your "right" to healthcare from? No one. No society - no rights.

In an advanced society you might get many rights that come together with obligations to society. These are not universal, but established by the creation of this society. It does not mean they are worthless or not to be upheld. But they are secondary products of the situation in society itself. This is why the right to free movement can easily be suspended in a pandemic or war - the material situation itself will dictate to society, what rights can still be granted and which no longer apply at the moment.
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by Tribble » 2020-06-03 05:49pm

jub wrote:
loomer wrote:
K. A. Pital wrote:
Yes, I agree that rights are ultimately a social construct, though that's not exactly how I viewed the OP.

My view of the OP was something along the lines of "If you could have your ideal society, what would you consider to be the 'basic rights,' if any, for the people in that society?

K. A. Pital's response of "None. Rights are a pure social construct. No society - no rights" interested me and I wanted him to expand on it, though in hindsight I should have been more clear what I was really asking.

I was thinking Pital's response was going to be sorta like:

"Western societies and western concepts of rights are inherently wrong for X reasons. This is what I would do instead."
Or
"Focusing on individual rights vs society as a whole inevitably causes more harm than good, since the former is meaningless without the strong foundation of the ladder. This is what I would do."

Etc.

Or perhaps Pital believes that it's time for the world to burn - if we destroy all societies, then we won't have to worry about rights! :P

And I would be interested in hearing about some of the challenges even the most ideal of societies may face.
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2020-06-03 10:39pm

loomer wrote:
2020-05-28 10:39pm
madd0ct0r wrote:
2020-05-28 05:22pm
Using Ralin's definition of 'a right that cannot be reduced, no matter the circumstances'

He applied it to bodily autonomy.

For me, for the common rights, I'm not sure I consider any of the below to fit the strongest basic right criteria:

That to own property, to free speech, to body integrity,

More fundamental are things I think you are always entitled to: food, water and shelter; a place in society and human contact.
It's a definition of basic right that's fairly untenable and contrary to the accepted definitions of basic/fundamental rights, which are rights that can be infringed upon for the purposes of public order and safety where that infringement strictly necessary and proportionate to the goal. No basic right of the kind Ralin defines, save for those involving torture and murder without due process, exists in human rights law except as a pure hypothetical. Even the doctrine of natural rights admits infringements on those rights where necessary to stop their free exercise from infringing on the natural rights of others.

So, this is really a long way of saying, 'I don't think there are any'. But I'm also a skeptic of the entire concept of human rights as meaningful and effective, so I'm biased. I could stretch, I suppose, and say that the only three truly inviolable rights a human possesses are:
to be born (a retroactive right activated the moment you are born.)
to experience or generate suffering
to die.

These are the only truly guaranteed experiences that all human beings will share, the only fundamental things that cannot be infringed upon in any meaningful way by any law or action of another - but you might note that these are not 'rights' in the sense of a legally enshrined privilege, capacity, or freedom to perform an action, so much as 'rights' in the sense of a recognition of natural processes. The right to food, the right to water, the right to clean air, can be analogized as belonging to a subsequent category of similar 'innate, natural rights', differentiated from the first category in that while one needs these things to live, one is not guaranteed them. We could categorize them into a general 'right to the conditions necessary for survival', which is a fairly common approach, but while a right exists to these things, there is no actual guarantee that right will be exercised or respected.

This is why the category of truly inviolable natural rights I have put forward does not include them. One is guaranteed only to have been born (which can only be retroactive - there is no right to be born for a fetus, only for a person who has already been born, as there is no guarantee a pregnancy will be successful for any number of factors), to experience suffering, and to die. The human being who is born and dies a second later possesses and exercises these rights, but not the rights to food, water, or clean air due to a lack of opportunity to exercise them.

This, of course, is a concept of 'right' that is very distinct from that meant by most people when they invoke the language of rights, but that's the point. A right that exists but is not respected or exercised is effectively meaningless, even if it 'exists' on paper. If we're to drill down into the absolutely fundamental rights that cannot be infringed upon in any circumstance then we are left with very strange rights indeed, as all others are routinely subject to infringement by law, by other human actors, and by random chance. This is why the most helpful concept of a right is one that is necessarily (as it cannot be meaningful otherwise) delimited as an obligation by others rather than a right of the possessor in isolation - 'you must not perform any action that will stop another person from living' as opposed to a general 'people have a right to be alive' - and for that reason most serious examinations of the concept spend most of their time detailing the obligatory correlate of the rights they discuss. The obligation of others is a much more significant expression of 'inalienable basic rights' that aren't truly inalienable, as it is not troubled by the prospect that those rights will be violated by non-human action/inaction.
This is an interesting perspective, albeit one that's of course very far removed from what I expect most people mean when they talk about rights: ie, things which we believe people should have, either because it is seen as a moral good, or because it is practically beneficial to society. So that's the way I tend to talk about rights. Of course any right, in that sense, can be violated- whether they should be is another matter, and one that is generally of greater interest to me.

Still, I would like to suggest a couple of other possible universal rights, under the definition you described above. They may have possible limitations I have not considered, but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on them.

1. The right to exert influence on the world. This one is pretty simple: every person who has ever existed, even for an instant, has subtly altered the world around them, and those alterations will have ripple effects, creating more alterations. Simply by being born, for example, you have massively altered the course of your mother's life (actually, you do that even before you're born, ie before you're legally a you). What effects we have on the world are not always clear, not always possible to determine, but every single person who has ever existed, even for a second, has left a permanent imprint on the cosmos (at least until the universe ceases to exist, at which point all things are moot).

2. The collective of a society to choose its own form. I'm thinking of this one not as an individual right, but as a collective right possessed by society, in which all individuals play a role. Nor am I thinking in terms of any particular form of government, or even something as broad as the right to vote. Rather, I am referring to the reality that no government can function without at least that tacit consent of a large part of its population. If the majority of people, or even a large minority, one day decided to take up arms against the state, or even to just stop working or stop paying taxes, the system would grind to a halt. Likewise, without the active support of a significant portion of the population, the government could not carry out its policies. In practice, of course, it may be difficult or impossible to organize resistance on that scale, because of misinformation/surpression of media, or because most people simply aren't that motivated to rebel, consequences be damned. And one can validly argue that consent based on deception or coercion is not true consent. However, the fact remains that no system of governance can function without at least the tactic acceptance of a large majority of its populace, and the active and committed support of a large minority. In practical terms, democratic systems merely formalize and codify this reality, making it easier for the people to express their disatisfaction (or satisfaction) in a structured, socially-sanctioned way, to making transfers of power easier, less chaotic and bloody. But no system, from the most brutal absolute dictatorship to the most decentralized society, has ever existed which can function without at least the tacit buy-in of most of its population.

Possibly some day some utter bastard will figure out a way for one man to mind-control the entire population with the push of a button or something. But until that day, I would contend that there is an absolute collective right (to which all individuals participate, whether consciously or unconsciously) to choose one's own government and form of society (there cannot, of course, be an individual right to do so, even in a democracy, as one person cannot dictate the course of government against the wishes of the majority).
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Re: What do you consider 'basic rights'?

Post by loomer » 2020-06-04 01:12am

Neither 1 nor 2 are inherent rights in the sense I outlined, as there is no guarantee a person will exert influence in any meaningful form on the world (consider how little influence a child who dies immediately after being born has - a sadness for a few, a loss of resource investment, and little more. Any other influences comes from those people, not from the child.), and collective rights are inherently foreign to the dialogue of inherent individual rights (and this is the source of a lot of critiques of Western liberal rights models from non-Western cultures, as it goes). That being said, I genuinely don't recommend trying to use my model of intrinsic rights for anything more than a critique of the kind of basic right advanced by Ralin, being a right that cannot ever be violated.
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