Monday, July 20, 2009

The Origin and Nature of Rights

Random House Webster’s American Dictionary defines a right as, “something to which a person is entitled”. For the purpose of this discussion the word right will be used in its plural because man, (man as used here for purpose of this discussion means humankind, both men and women) possesses a multitude of rights. The primary among them is the right to ones life, the right to one’s liberty, and the right to one’s pursuit of happiness as enunciated in out Declaration of Independence.

Most believe for an individual to have rights they must by some definition be bestowed upon them or ascribed to them by some higher authority. Even the founding fathers, the intellectual giants they were, believed that man had “unalienable rights” bestowed upon them by their creator, in other words by an unseen and unknowable God. This suggests that rights, in and of themselves do not exist. Another body of thought holds that rights are ascribed to man by virtue of the state. Here again rights do not exist but for a higher authority and only so long as the authority chooses to “bestow them upon us.”

Both of the above belief systems are founded on irrational premises. On the one hand since God is unknowable, i.e.; we can’t consult with him, the determination of man’s rights rest then with the arbitrary interpretation of some presumably more “knowledgeable” person(s). In this case I shall refer to them as people of faith. On the other hand the determination of man’s rights is dependent on the arbitrary whims of whoever is in power over the populace at any given time. I shall refer to them as mystics of muscle. In both instances mans rights are open to arbitrary interpretation and therefore subject to change by any man or group of men in power at any given time.

Rights therefore must be governed by a code of ethics, a code that holds that man’s rights are universal and exist simply because man exits. That man is his own master and all men are entitled to the universal rights of man. These rights include, but are not limited to; the right to enter mutually rewarding enterprise with one another with out intrusion by outside force, the right to prosper without ones wealth being confiscated by a third party, the right to own and maintain private property, the right to his own mind and beliefs without fear of coercion by any individual or group, the right to be free from fear of bodily or mental harm, the right to defend oneself if provoked or threatened by another, the right to a government that respects the individual rather than the collective and insures they are protected against the tyranny of the majority, the right to limited government that’s just and only purpose is to provide for the defense of the people against aggression, to an unbiased judiciary and court system to settle civil and criminal disputes, to provide for an effective system of education for it’s people, and as stated in the opening paragraph but bears repeating, to insure the rights of the individual to his life, liberty, and the pursuit of his own happiness.

In as much as man possesses universal rights based on his existence, he also has a corresponding responsibility. All men, to be ethical and moral, must respect that each individual has the same rights and must be willing to defend not only his rights but the rights of other men as well. The right to bear differences of opinion and methodology must be respected and in fact encouraged for man as a whole to grow and prosper. Conversely as all men possess the above rights it logically follows no man has the right to attempt to usurp another’s rights by force. The only ethical and justifiable use of force against another man is in self defense. I note here that reference to man denotes man both as an individual and a larger group such as a nation or state.

For individuals to coexist with others in society naturally requires a common understanding of the rights of man. As there will always be certain individuals and groups that are frankly evil, and are either unable or unwilling to understand the concept of universality of rights, laws need to be established by men so as to effectively dispense of those who commit crimes against people and or property. This rightfully falls to the domain of limited governance as pointed in paragraph four of this discussion. Courts established for this purpose, with judges who understand the rights of each individual man and possess a burning desire to preserve those rights (against the state and street mob) must be seated and respected as guardians of our liberty.

In summary the rights of man are universal; they exist not because of some mystical and unknowable god or an all powerful state, but rather because man exits. Man, possessing cognitive thought and reason, has established the ethical and moral framework to live his life effectively, with liberty, and with his own happiness as his reward. The age of Enlightenment, with its greatest thinkers spawned the Renaissance, one of the brightest and most glorious ages of human history. Out of which grew the United States of America, the freest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known.

There is hope for the future of man, but only if free men are allowed to think freely, objectively, and are freed of the shackles that religious dogma and the mystics of muscle place on them. Man needs a rebirth of the Age of Enlightenment as well as an undying desire to be free and productive both in mind and body.

Les Carpenter III

Rational Nation USA

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