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Aaron
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PostSubject: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:03 am

This topic was raised in another thread and I thought it might makes sense to discuss it further here.

From wikipedia...
Quote :
The term unalienable rights (or inalienable rights) refers to a theoretical set of human rights that by their nature cannot be transferred from one person to another. They are considered more fundamental than alienable rights, such as rights in a specific piece of property.

Inalienable rights may be defined as natural rights or human rights, but natural rights need not be inalienable.

From the Declaration of Independence...
Quote :
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights..." ~Thomas Jefferson


Do you believe that humans posses certain "Inalienable Rights"? If so, where do these rights come from; our Creator, Natural Law, society, etc...?

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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:53 pm

"Inalienable Rights" is just an idea, and as such it exists only in our heads.

It's a good idea, a fair idea, an idea we all should aspire to, but none of that prevents some bully with a gun - or an army, or economic influence, or social power - from ignoring your "inalienable rights" and enforcing their will upon you.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:30 pm

Uriah is correct. If the rights we wish were inalienable exist, they are the result of a society enumerating, installing, and protecting them. Where they are not created by Man, they do not exist.

Now, it could be argued that the concept of such rights are divinely inspired...but as a Deist, I'd be the wrong person to argue that.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:44 am

Aaron,

Yes, Inalienable Rights come from Natural Law and Natural Law comes from our Creator.

Uriah,

Food, water, and shelter are all needs. These needs only exist in my head but if I didn't have a head I wouldn't have needs. The same applies to rights.

I tried to explain this before. All because something only exists in our heads doesn't mean it isn't real. I only exist in my head and I am real. My needs and rights are naturally in my head as well as everyone else's. They are a part of me. If you acknowledge that I am real you must admit that all the parts of me are real also.

It's true that them existing doesn't prevent a bully from enforcing their will upon me but the existence of my rights is what makes it apparent that someone is a bully because they violate my rights. If rights only exist in our heads then bullies only exist in our heads also. Wrongs can't exist without rights.

If I was to break into your house, rape your spouse, and kill your children then you will think that I'm an evil selfish cruel person. Why? Because I violated your family's rights. If they don't really have rights then I'm not really an evil selfish cruel person because evil, selfishness, and cruelty only exists in your head.

If someone was trying to kill you then do you have a right to defend yourself? If the killer said that you have no right to defend yourself and to just let him kill you then would you be in agreement with him? Would you think to yourself,"Well, my right to life and right to defend that right only exists in my mind. So, there is no reason why I should defend myself."? If you were to defend yourself then why would you do something that you don't have the right to do? Would it be wrong if there was a law that said that you have no right to defend yourself?

Of course rights only exist in our heads! If I was to stab you to death I would be violating your rights. Once you're dead and if your mind no longer exists after death then I wouldn't be violating your rights if I kept stabbing your corpse because a corpse is as dead as a rock. Rights only apply to minds not dead matter.

Paul,

Did you create your instinct and right to defend yourself or are these concepts part of your human nature?



If you guys truly believe that rights are manmade concepts then why even engage in political debates? If our happiness, our hopes, our dreams, and our self worth are only manmade concepts then that means that the idea that these are important are also manmade. Politics are manmade. All political concepts only exist in our heads. They are not real and are illusions. So, why should politics be important to you?
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:09 am

I have to agree with Uriah and PA. I just see no evidence of natural law or natural rights when it comes to human behavior. If there were such a law then we could no more disobey it than the moon could choose to ignore gravity.

All I see are things we are capable of doing and things we are incapable of doing. However we do have some limited ability to choose and it seems to me a society that allows its citizens the maximum amount of freedom possible while holding them responsible for acts that infringe on others ability to enjoy and exploit their own liberty is preferable to a totalitarian government that enslaves its own populace or a "community" with no structure reduced to anarchy.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:22 am

stretmediq,

Why isn't a totalitarian government preferable? What makes a government preferable? Why should we even have a government?

If we disobey natural laws then there is natural consequences just like there is consequences for disobeying Man's Law.

I don't just believe there are natural rights but also natural wrongs. That's why it's not like gravity.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:21 am

I'm of the opinion that human rights exist (they're not illusionary) as a man made creation.

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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:30 am

Schizo, you seem to be contradicting yourself in your own argument.

Schizophretard wrote:
...All because something only exists in our heads doesn't mean it isn't real...
...If you guys truly believe that rights are manmade concepts then why even engage in political debates? If our happiness, our hopes, our dreams, and our self worth are only manmade concepts then that means that the idea that these are important are also manmade. Politics are manmade. All political concepts only exist in our heads. They are not real and are illusions. So, why should politics be important to you?

I tend to agree with the first comment. Just because something exists solely as a subjective concept doesn't mean it's an illusion.

Why do you feel differently when it pertains to politics?

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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:28 pm

Schizophretard wrote:
stretmediq, Why isn't a totalitarian government preferable? What makes a government preferable? Why should we even have a government?
Where would you rather live any city in the US or someplace like Mogadishu (anarchy) or Nazi Germany (totalitarian)?

The thing about Deism is it puts the responsibility on us to govern ourselves because there does not appear to be any such thing as natural or divine law. I just think the best most efficient form of government tends toward libertarianism because it offers the greatest good to the greatest number of people. But I'm not a complete libertarian because i think there should be some sort of social safety net and some semblance of order must be maintained.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:07 pm

I think I see Schizo's point, somewhat in terms of Plato's theory of forms. As such, I am inclined to agree with him. Rather I think we are arguing toward the middle.

Inalienable Rights are an ideal, but I don't think they are innate in the human animal. In fact, I think the Western concept of "Inalienable Rights", and most of the main precepts of the Enlightenment for that matter, really do represent an evolved mind, or sense of consciousness. And this agrees with Plato's idea about ideas.

However, it is just our idea. For instance, in Chinese culture (and much of the oriental cultural world) there is no concept of "natural rights". In Chinese the word 'right' simply translates as "the power, or ability, to do something".
Confucianism, Legalism, and even Buddhism are about order, knowing one's place in the grand scheme, and not attempting to circumvent, or rebel against, that greater design in any way.

I will admit, though, that I think the idea of "Natural Rights" is a good one, probably one of the best ideas any human ever had, and I think it will naturally win out and propagate throughout every culture. Not only does the globalization of political authority promote this, but so to does the Internet, and transnational capitalism.

Or, in the words of one of the 20th century's greatest philosophers:
“Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff.” ~ Frank Zappa
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:06 pm

Schizophretard wrote:


Paul,

Did you create your instinct and right to defend yourself or are these concepts part of your human nature?

The instinct for self-preservation is a natural one. Animals have the same natural instinct. Do they have a right, as well? If you kill an animal in order to feed yourself, have you violated its divine right to live? And, if an animal kills you in order to feed itself....?

Don't confuse instincts with rights.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:40 am

Uriah wrote:
For instance, in Chinese culture (and much of the oriental cultural world) there is no concept of "natural rights". In Chinese the word 'right' simply translates as "the power, or ability, to do something".
Maybe we could define natural rights as the ability to do something without infringing on anothers ability to do the same.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:56 am

stretmediq wrote:
Uriah wrote:
For instance, in Chinese culture (and much of the oriental cultural world) there is no concept of "natural rights". In Chinese the word 'right' simply translates as "the power, or ability, to do something".
Maybe we could define natural rights as the ability to do something without infringing on anothers ability to do the same.

We could, but the Chinese don't. I was just trying to show how the concept of natural rights is largely a product of our culture, and not necessarily a preexisting "perfect form" in the Platonic sense. Like the value of Pi, for example.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:11 pm

Aaron,

I didn't contradict myself. I don't believe that all political concepts are not real and are illusions. I'm just trying to show that if human rights are not real because they only exist in our heads then politics aren't either. I started with,"If you guys truly believe that rights are manmade concepts." and I was showing what I believe would follow from that. If natural rights are just manmade concepts and therefore unimportant then so is politics. But I believe natural rights aren't manmade, just man discovered. So, I believe politics are important. If I believed that natural rights don't really exist and are really some kind of insanity just in our heads, then I wouldn't care about politics because If I have no rights then I have no rights that need to be politically secured. It wouldn't matter if we had a free society or lived in the Third Reich because either system would work just as well in a world without rights.

stretmediq,

I rather live in any city in the U.S. because my rights are more secure here but if I didn't have any rights then it wouldn't matter. I agree with you that,"a society that allows its citizens the maximum amount of freedom possible while holding them responsible for acts that infringe on others ability to enjoy and exploit their own liberty is preferable." because I believe I have natural rights. If I went to Nazi Germany it wouldn't be preferable because I would take my rights with me.

I agree that it is our responsibility to govern ourselves but not because there is no such thing as natural or divine law. Freedom is a Divine Law and if someone tries to take my freedom away from me then they are "sinning" against me and Divine Law. God doesn't want any man or government to play god and neither do I.

You said,"Maybe we could define natural rights as the ability to do something without infringing on anothers ability to do the same." I agree.

Paul,

I'm not trying to mix up instincts and natural rights. I'm just trying to make a point that they are both naturally a part of our minds. The way I see it is I either have the instinct to defend myself and the right to or I have the instinct to defend myself but no right to. I believe I have a right to defend myself.

Does animals have rights? Maybe but honestly I don't know. After humans stop intentionally causing other humans to suffer I promise to think about it more. I believe we should alleviate the suffering of one species at a time.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:59 pm

Schizophretard wrote:
If natural rights are just manmade concepts and therefore unimportant...

Why do you think that just because something is man made that it is unimportant?

Schizophretard wrote:
If I believed that natural rights don't really exist and are really some kind of insanity just in our heads, then I wouldn't care about politics because If I have no rights then I have no rights that need to be politically secured.

I don't think that "rights" are an insanity in our heads. IMO they are a result of man's ability to reason, adapt, and coexist with one another.

Schizophretard wrote:
It wouldn't matter if we had a free society or lived in the Third Reich because either system would work just as well in a world without rights.

I don't think that anyone is arguing against the idea of "human rights". As far as I can tell we all believe that they exist and that they're important. The argument is over whether those rights are "inalienable" or not and whether they come from man, nature, or directly from god.

IMO human rights are a cultural creation. In other words they come from the collective, intersubjective mind of man. What constitutes a "human right" is open to interpretation based on the cultural and societal context.

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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Thu Mar 27, 2008 12:45 am

Okay, let me make another feeble attempt.

This is just another perspective.

Talking about Plato's perfect forms, I guess when we talk of inalienable human rights, we're almost talking a perfect form, a perfect state for a human to be, life, liberty property. CAll it perfect human-ness.

But what about chickens. Seriously. If you argue a perfect humanness, then (and I'm not in the least joking here) Plato would probably argue that there is a perfect chicken-ness.

That perfect chicken-ness would be, I don't know, the ability to do what a chicken does to the best of its ability, hopefully using its powers as best as it can to escape its predators and conversely capturing its own prey as well as sexual reproduction, maybe a bit of Jonathan LIvingston type flying inbetween (okay I can never keep an attemp at humour completely out of it)

But my point is a chicken has no inalienable right to this perfect chicken-ness, hence why millions upon millions lead the most miserable lives possible on the way to a super market or KFC near you.

By this very same argument I maintain that, yes, there is a perfect humanness, but we don't have an inalienable right to it upon birth any more than a chicken has an inalienable right to perfect chicken-ness upon birth.

Does that mean we shouldn't fight and strive for perfect human-ness. No it does not mean that. It just means we don't have a right to perfect human-ness any more than chickens have a right to perfect chicken-ness.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:19 am

Well, this is a first! I'm going to use the Bible to make a point! Smile

Slavery existed in both the Old and New testament. Slaves did not have inalienable rights, and Religion did not propose such an idea. Not only is it a creation of society, but it is a fairly NEW creation of society - and not one supported by any religion. It is a concept that has its origins in secular enlightenment.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Thu Mar 27, 2008 12:19 pm

Helium wrote:
Okay, let me make another feeble attempt.

This is just another perspective.

Talking about Plato's perfect forms, I guess when we talk of inalienable human rights, we're almost talking a perfect form, a perfect state for a human to be, life, liberty property. CAll it perfect human-ness.

But what about chickens. Seriously. If you argue a perfect humanness, then (and I'm not in the least joking here) Plato would probably argue that there is a perfect chicken-ness.

That perfect chicken-ness would be, I don't know, the ability to do what a chicken does to the best of its ability, hopefully using its powers as best as it can to escape its predators and conversely capturing its own prey as well as sexual reproduction, maybe a bit of Jonathan LIvingston type flying inbetween (okay I can never keep an attemp at humour completely out of it)

But my point is a chicken has no inalienable right to this perfect chicken-ness, hence why millions upon millions lead the most miserable lives possible on the way to a super market or KFC near you.

By this very same argument I maintain that, yes, there is a perfect humanness, but we don't have an inalienable right to it upon birth any more than a chicken has an inalienable right to perfect chicken-ness upon birth.

Does that mean we shouldn't fight and strive for perfect human-ness. No it does not mean that. It just means we don't have a right to perfect human-ness any more than chickens have a right to perfect chicken-ness.

That's a great post, and I agree.


Here's a question for you all,

We will accept as a given that "natural rights" exist. Why is it so important, this simple distinction between it being in existence before man, outside the mind of man, or simply a creation of man, and of culture?

I think it's this: The former requires a conscious god, concerned with, and active in, the affairs of people. The latter proposition neither precludes, nor requires, god in any way.

But why is that such a big deal? Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Thu Mar 27, 2008 12:42 pm

Uriah wrote:
Here's a question for you all,

We will accept as a given that "natural rights" exist. Why is it so important, this simple distinction between it being in existence before man, outside the mind of man, or simply a creation of man, and of culture?

I think it's this: The former requires a conscious god, concerned with, and active in, the affairs of people. The latter proposition neither precludes, nor requires, god in any way.

But why is that such a big deal? Very Happy

Because if it's true that our human rights are a direct creation of god then it forever tethers government to religion. However, if it's true that man and culture are the basis of our human rights (as I believe to be the case) then government becomes beholden to the people rather than to religion.

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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:35 pm

Aaron,

The reason natural rights wouldn't be important if they are manmade is because they wouldn't be real. Just like Jesus and Santa aren't important.

I agree that they are a result of man's ability to reason, adapt, and coexist with one another but if we really don't have rights then it is a form of insanity. Imagine someone who believes in the existence of rights and someone who doesn't. If rights do exist then the person who believes in rights is sane because his/her belief is compatible with reality. If rights do not exist then the person who believes rights are just in our heads is sane because his/her belief is compatible with reality. So, if rights don't exist then Adolf Hitler is more sane than Thomas Jefferson. If rights don't exist and we invented them to coexist then we chose to go insane in order to coexist. I don't believe this to be so. I do believe the concept of rights is a result of man's ability to reason, adapt, and coexist with one another but it isn't a manmade concept. I don't believe we invented it to coexist but instead we discovered it to coexist.

As to whether they come from man, nature, or directly from god. I would say all the above. God created nature, nature evolved Man, and man evolved to the point of discovering/understanding his natural rights. So, God indirectly created us and our rights through nature. Nature directly evolved us with a nature that requires us to acknowledge each others rights so we can happily coexist. Man didn't understand his rights so he didn't happily coexist with his fellow human beings for most of his history. Man mentally evolved to the point of discovering/understanding his rights. Eventually Man will evolve to the point that every man's rights will be respected and man will happily coexist with one another. Amen

I disagree that if it's true that our human rights are a direct creation of god then it forever tethers government to religion. Religion and God are two different things. I believe we get our rights from God but I also believe one of those rights is freedom of religion. So, I believe God never tethered religion and government together. He did the opposite. What if instead of government being tethered to God/Nature it was tethered to Man/Man's will? Which is a better foundation for government? If government was tethered to religion then wouldn't it be tethered to Man and not God?

Helium,

Maybe we do have a right to perfect human-ness and that is the reason we fight for it. We fight for it because it is self evident to us that we have rights. If I tried to serve you at KFH you would fight against it because your rights are unalienable. If they weren't unalienable then I could take them away from you and you would willingly be served at KFH. I can't take them away from you because they are unalienable. So, I'm fully capable of serving you at KFH but I can't take away your rights in order to serve you. I must violate your rights in order to serve you at KFH. In other words, I can't own you because your ownership of yourself is unalienable but I can treat you like I do own you.

Paul Anthony,

Children understand that they have rights. They understand what is theirs. That's why they will grab things and say,"Mine!" So, to children their rights are self evident but they lack the understanding that other people have rights too.

I believe that's how people's understanding of rights were back in Bible times. They understood their own rights because they are self evident but didn't understand that everyone else have rights too. That's why slavery existed back then. The slaves' rights were still unalienable. That's why they had to beat and torture their slaves into submission. If they effectively took away their slaves' rights then there would be no need to beat them. They beat them because the slaves' rights were self evident to them and they fought against being slaves.

You're right that religion did not propose such an idea. The founders of religion created lies to hide the truth of people having rights from them.

You're also right that it is a concept that has its origins in secular enlightenment. This is because people started to become aware of the lies of religion and aware of the truth. One of those truths they became aware of is that Man has unalienable rights.

It isn't a fairly new creation of society. It is just a fairly new discovery of society. We discovered that religions lied to us for most of our history and that the whole time religions have been violating our rights that have always been there.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:36 am

Schizophretard wrote:


Paul Anthony,

Children understand that they have rights. They understand what is theirs. That's why they will grab things and say,"Mine!" So, to children their rights are self evident but they lack the understanding that other people have rights too.

IMO, that's not the best example to explain your position. Children aren't demonstrating awareness of "rights", they're just exhibiting a human/animal tendency to be greedy. That's why we have to teach children to share.

Schizophretard wrote:
I believe that's how people's understanding of rights were back in Bible times. They understood their own rights because they are self evident but didn't understand that everyone else have rights too. That's why slavery existed back then. The slaves' rights were still unalienable. That's why they had to beat and torture their slaves into submission. If they effectively took away their slaves' rights then there would be no need to beat them. They beat them because the slaves' rights were self evident to them and they fought against being slaves.

You're right that religion did not propose such an idea. The founders of religion created lies to hide the truth of people having rights from them.

If so, it wasn't difficult to do. All forms of government, religious or otherwise, were top-down. The king had rights. everyone else had only the rights granted them by their king. No one had any sense of individual rights, so the Church simply replaced the king with a Divinely ordained king, and things continued as usual.

People didn't have rights until they decided they should. The enlightenment was the birth of the idea that governments should receive their rights from the people, instead of the other way around. But, blaming the historical situation on Religions is inaccurate. Most leaders ruled with absolute power over their people, whether or not the ruler had religious sanction.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:52 am

Quote :
The founders of religion created lies to hide the truth of people having rights from them.

You're also right that it is a concept that has its origins in secular enlightenment. This is because people started to become aware of the lies of religion and aware of the truth. One of those truths they became aware of is that Man has unalienable rights.

It isn't a fairly new creation of society. It is just a fairly new discovery of society. We discovered that religions lied to us for most of our history and that the whole time religions have been violating our rights that have always been there.

Again I must take this analyses of history to task as I always do. I don't believe early organized religions lied to us about sacred or moral truths anymore than early science "lied" to us about physical truths.

Early religions were expressions of mankind's sacred enlightenment at that point just as early science were expressions of mankind's scientific enlightenment at that time.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:15 am

Uriah wrote:
stretmediq wrote:
Uriah wrote:
For instance, in Chinese culture (and much of the oriental cultural world) there is no concept of "natural rights". In Chinese the word 'right' simply translates as "the power, or ability, to do something".
Maybe we could define natural rights as the ability to do something without infringing on anothers ability to do the same.

We could, but the Chinese don't. I was just trying to show how the concept of natural rights is largely a product of our culture, and not necessarily a preexisting "perfect form" in the Platonic sense. Like the value of Pi, for example.
Yea I understand that. I was just trying to get to some common definition of what we mean by the term regardless of where they came from.
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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:56 am

Paul Anthony,

I understand what you're saying about children being greedy but it also shows they have a concept of property and property is how you determine rights. Children understand that they own things but have trouble considering the other children's ownership of things. That's why they say things are theirs that are not. If children didn't have a concept of rights then they wouldn't understand property because they are basically the same thing. If you can understand that something is your property and that since it is your property you have deciding power of what is done with it then you understand your rights even if you don't know what the word rights means.

I agree that children are exhibiting a human/animal tendency to be greedy and I think that helps my case of there being natural rights. We naturally have a concept of ownership and because of that we understand that we have a right to be greedy with the things we own. If creatures didn't have a natural concept of ownership then there wouldn't be any such thing as being greedy and being giving. Everything would simply belong to every creature and therefore there would be no natural rights because if there is no property then there is no rights. Property equals rights and creatures had property before man even existed. When ever a T-Rex fought for it's territory it understood that the territory was it's property and therefore it should fight for it. In other words, Man didn't invent the concept of ownership and therefore didn't invent rights. Ownership is natural and therefore rights are natural.

If people didn't have a concept of rights back in Bible times then there is no possible way they could of had a concept of theft. You can't steal something without property existing.

Also,the government doesn't receive rights from the people. It receives privileges from the people. Only privileges can be given and taken away.

Helium,

I agree that many things of early religions were expressions of mankind's sacred enlightenment at that point but also many things were made up which is lying. The prophets of the Bible lied just like the psychics of today do.
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Uriah

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PostSubject: Re: "Inalienable" Human Rights   Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:49 am

stretmediq wrote:
Uriah wrote:
stretmediq wrote:
Uriah wrote:
For instance, in Chinese culture (and much of the oriental cultural world) there is no concept of "natural rights". In Chinese the word 'right' simply translates as "the power, or ability, to do something".
Maybe we could define natural rights as the ability to do something without infringing on anothers ability to do the same.

We could, but the Chinese don't. I was just trying to show how the concept of natural rights is largely a product of our culture, and not necessarily a preexisting "perfect form" in the Platonic sense. Like the value of Pi, for example.
Yea I understand that. I was just trying to get to some common definition of what we mean by the term regardless of where they came from.

I'm sorry, I misunderstood.

Yes, well "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" right?

What Jefferson called "Inalienable Rights", was lifted directly from Hobbes and Locke, though Jefferson changed "possessions" to "happiness".

That is the definition I would think most appropriate.
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