Where Rights Come From

Certainly not from government, of course. Where, then; thin air? God?  Today's ZGBlog offers an answer.


Alex R. Knight III's picture

While I have no particular disagreement with your conclusions as to the origin and nature of "rights" (other than mere semantics, i.e., how can one own, per se, what one already is), your own conciliation that "rights" can be -- and as we well know, so often are -- violated, places such assertions in a kind of a priori status.  This is to say that, while the logic may be airtight, its application is not, necessarily.
e.g., The Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto had a "right" to live.  Fine.  But how much good did that "right," in practice, do them?  If "rights" can be said to exist concretely, irrespective of human action, then how?  And of what tangible value is that knowledge, or assertion thereof?  Such contentions are reduced to mere abstractions.
I have come to think of "rights" as far more easily and accurately defined thusly:
"Rights" (for lack of a better word) are, in practice, opinions.  And they require 2 prerequisites:
1.) They must be rooted in an idea that at least a sizeable number of others are willing to recognize as such (e.g., I have a "right" to free speech, but not to beat up anyone who angers me).
2.) They must further be such that, if they are abrogated or violated, one has a reasonable chance of defending or restoring them, whether by peaceable or violent means (if my free speech is violated, many will come to my support if not aid; the violators will be in a minority, and quickly defeated.  If I beat my neighbor because I don't like his views, I will receive very little support, my detractors will be many, I will be defeated).
Otherwise, it's all well and fine to assert one's "rights" -- and one can even be right, from a standpoint of rationalism.  Unfortunately, you can't always take that to the bank.
You almost invariably present a fine rebuttal.  :-)  I await yours in the sincere hopes of learning something.

Samarami's picture

Your comment, Alex, is insightful if not overly polite. Because this childish crazy-making has gone on for considerably longer than "one year". And, yes, it has indeed rendered STR invalid. Most of these folks, like me, will simply not endure juvenile name-calling. I submit that most have ceased contributing to STR and moved on to other venues out of disgust. Sam