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Rights/obligations

 
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 7:20 pm    Post subject: Rights/obligations  Reply with quote

Does the concept of rights require/demand obligations?

Which is to say: as per some philosophers (such as Roger Scruton), does the concept of rights only make sense when there is a possibility of reciprocation - that without reciprocation, the idea of rights is meaningless?
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Ketty
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2014 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends upon the 'rights' and the circumstances.  For instance, it's my belief that every baby's birth-right is to be loved, nurtured, fed, watered, and kept warm and safe - I don't think that makes the child under any obligation although there may be a sense of reciprocation (unknown to the baby) of love given and love received.

Yet my 'right' for a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, is dependent upon my obligation to provide the labour and my paymaster's obligation to pay me.
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The question was suggested by an article on animal rights I stumbled across, wherein Scruton was rehearsing the familiar anti-AR position that no, non-human animals can't/don't have rights because there's no reciprocity - they have no obligations and can't do anything back, as it were, so on this views the concept of rights rests on the idea of a transaction, a mutual give-and-take.

This seems to be an exceedingly ill-thought-out position given that we habitually extend rights to those who can't reciprocate, either until later on (babies/small children) or absolutely not at all (the severely mentally ill/the mentally disabled/those suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer's). I've no idea what Scruton and those who think the same would say in response, but I would guess that it's ultmately going to rest on speciesism - babies and the mentally incapacitated have rights without responsibilities because they're human, no other reason.
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IvyOwl
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw this last night and realised it needed a great deal of thought before replying. I'd assumed you weren't talking just about humans as going by a comment you'd made on another thread you seemed to be in Animal Rights mode.


It's a tricky one. Who gets to decide what the rights actually are. What's the criteria? The Golden Rule, respect for ALL life?

Reciprocity/obligation is appropriate on those, animals and human, who are able but it certainly should not be a condition.

Having read Ketty's reply
Quote:
For instance, it's my belief that every baby's birth-right is to be loved, nurtured, fed, watered, and kept warm and safe -


With which I'm in full agreement I went back a stage. Is it a right to reproduce? Certainly it's a biological imperative but in these days of easily available prevention have people a right to be reproductively incontinent? To be clear I'm not thinking just of recent high profile cases of people on benefits having loads of children so as to get more money I'm thinking of anybody, those who are able to financially support them and  who make good loving parents. China's one child policy was ill thought out as we are seeing but IMHO more than 3 children is just irresponsible and or greedy.

Sorry to have taken your thread off at a tangent Shaker it's just one of my gripes. I have friends who have had five children and have now acquired a whole shedful of grand children to show off. Mostly they live according to Green principles but their fecundity has cancelled it out!

They would say they have a right to have as many children as they wanted and that noone has any business telling them what to do. While this attitude of non intervention by the powers that be and fighting for individual freedoms is one with which I'd largely concur there is this small matter of obigations in return for these rights. Wanton fecundity doesn't sit well with me as a right in this overpopulated planet.

And as for the religious that quote 'be ye fruitful and multiply' don't get me started!! I've got a garden that needs attention.
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Ketty
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

IvyOwl wrote:
Is it a right to reproduce?


No, I don't believe it's a right.  It's a biological process that if the conditions are suitable, will happen.  However, thinking of IVF, etc, in this age of "I want" coupled with our advanced medical sciences it seems to have become a "right" - that comes with a price (not just financial).

As an aside and thinking of recent debates around same sex relationships, reproduction seems to have become a 'right' there too.

However, if one's position is that reproduction is a right and further, it's one's right to reproduce at will - then that must come with the sense of greater responsibility towards global resources, not just local/personal.
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 3:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Rights/obligations Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
Does the concept of rights require/demand obligations?

 


No. This is nonsense put about by right-wing nutjobs desparately seeking excuses for not giving people (or animals, in Scruton's case) their rights.

People blurt out these 'maxims' like "With righys come responsibilities" and "respect has to be earned" which are untested and not at all thought through.
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Them's my sentiments  

It does strike me as odd that people should tout such a position when the counter-examples are so blatantly obvious, but there you go.
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The Boyg
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 4:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Rights/obligations Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
People blurt out these 'maxims' like "With righys come responsibilities" and "respect has to be earned" which are untested and not at all thought through.


Although it's worth bearing in mind that the idea of absolute, universal rights is itself axiomatic.

"We hold these things to be true".
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IvyOwl wrote:
Sorry to have taken your thread off at a tangent Shaker it's just one of my gripes. I have friends who have had five children and have now acquired a whole shedful of grand children to show off. Mostly they live according to Green principles but their fecundity has cancelled it out!

No, no, not at all, it's one of my gripes as well.

Quote:
They would say they have a right to have as many children as they wanted and that noone has any business telling them what to do. While this attitude of non intervention by the powers that be and fighting for individual freedoms is one with which I'd largely concur there is this small matter of obigations in return for these rights. Wanton fecundity doesn't sit well with me as a right in this overpopulated planet.


The issue of how far the state should/could/might/perhaps even must interfere in the otherwise free conduct of its citizens is a massive topic, obviously, which never admits of glib soundbite answers. By temperament, inclination and personality I would say that my basic stance, the one which always comes to the surface faster than anything else, is one of libertarianism, which is to say, that people should have as much freedom as possible and should be free to direct their lives acording to their tastes and preferences as far as is possible without those tastes and preferences impacting in a significantly negative way on others. We'd all (well, most of us, anyway) want that for ourselves so it's only right that we extend the same to others.

However, that stance inevitably admits of exceptions on a case-by-case basis; and in the specific case of having children, I should say that it's one of those issues which - to use a perhaps odd but familiar analogy - is a bit like the difference between living in a detached house as opposed to a semi-detached one. Somebody who lives in a free-standing detached house could conceivably have more liberty and less constraints than somebody in a semi. They might want to listen to Cradle of Filth at three in the morning with little or no disturbance to their neighbours, let's say. In contrast somebody in a semi, by virtue of being separated from other people by a relatively think skin of brickwork, doesn't have quite the same license. If I live in a semi-detached house and my adjoining neighbour's home catches fire, I have a very direct and specific interest in seeing that fire put out as quickly as possible. I would not be minded to take well my neighbour's casual "Ah well, never mind, we're well insured - let it burn" because the neighbour's lack of action is going to impinge on me - my home is highly likely to burn down as well: even if they don't care about the loss of their house, I care greatly about the loss of mine.

This is obviously a roundabout way of saying that actions impinge upon others, or at least some actions do, and of those that do, some do so more than others. This is particularly the case in our own age when so many of us are environmentally aware and are familiar with ecological pollution, recycling and things like that. It bears on having children because the human population simply continues to rise seemingly unstoppably - the exercise of the "right" (I don't think it is, hence the scare quotes) or rather the choice to have children doesn't exist in a vacuum and can't be considered to be a purely and entirely personal matter. The ramifications spread outwards and outwards like ripples in a pond after a stone has been thrown in.

I won't be around to see it (and I'm not sorry about that fact), but I can foresee a possibility that as the human population rises and rises and rises seemingly unchecked over the next few decades there are going to be some hard questions asked, harder choices faced and perhaps even harder practices brought into play about such things as having children, transport, housing and the like. I still maintain that the greatest threat to the world now and in the near future is overpopulation and not something like climate change per se since climate change is only a symptom of a disease and not the disease itself, which is that there are simply too many people for the current state and use of such resources as the planet has left.

So, much as my heart innately lies with libertarianism, I'm only too well aware that while the neighbour's house is on fire, so to speak, there's a decent chance that in the not especially distant future at least some hard-won and much-cherished principles of individual liberty might face curbs, possibly even curtailment. By rights it shouldn't have to be that way, but it's the inevitable outcome of people refusing to set aside their innate selfishness and short-termism. If people refuse or ignore the carrot then they're just going to have to feel the stick.
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cyberman
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 7:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Rights/obligations Reply with quote

The Boyg wrote:
cyberman wrote:
People blurt out these 'maxims' like "With righys come responsibilities" and "respect has to be earned" which are untested and not at all thought through.


Although it's worth bearing in mind that the idea of absolute, universal rights is itself axiomatic.

"We hold these things to be true".


Quite so. The fact that we believe something to be a right does not mean that it has to be seen as universal and objective.

If a plague wipes out 93% of the world's population tomorrow, and by a huge natural injustice leaves me as one  survivors, I will no longer have, for example, the right to vote. Or the right to healthcare free at the  point of use. etc.

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