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Should people have an unalienable right to life watch

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    ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life,.........’. Should every person's birthright be an equal interest in the territory occupied by the society into which they are born in order to secure their unalienable right to life?
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    I will admit, I'm a little unclear as to what you're proposing is the alternative here?
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    Thanks for your input. The question was meant to elicit what an unalienable right to life actually meant in terms of an individual's rights, their intangible property in themselves (jus ad rem - right to a thing - life) which to have substance requires an interest in territory from which they obtain the means of secure life (jus in re - right in a thing - their birthright - the Earth); to guarantee that (make it unalienable) everyone must be entitled to jus soli (an intangible legal right to an interest in the territory the society occupies) for their subsistence and shelter otherwise there is no unalienable right to life. That subsistence and shelter is not welfare it is a right of property in the land which if sufficient land was available could be occupied by the individual (as humans in the state of nature); that is impossible in densely populated areas where about 1.5% of the population are needed for food production and all the available land is annexed by others so individuals either have an equal interest (their birthright - jus soli) in the territory and receive subsistence and shelter in recognition of the donation of their individual material interest (in order to secure their unalienable right to life) or they do not have an unalienable right to life because of their dependence on the goodwill of those controlling their access to subsistence and shelter. Do the British own Britain - no - then they do not have an unalienable right to life because they do not have an inalienable interest in the land beneath their feet.
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    (Original post by landscape2014)
    Thanks for your input. The question was meant to elicit what an unalienable right to life actually meant in terms of an individual's rights, their intangible property in themselves (jus ad rem - right to a thing - life) which to have substance requires an interest in territory from which they obtain the means of secure life (jus in re - right in a thing - their birthright - the Earth); to guarantee that (make it unalienable) everyone must be entitled to jus soli (an intangible legal right to an interest in the territory the society occupies) for their subsistence and shelter otherwise there is no unalienable right to life. That subsistence and shelter is not welfare it is a right of property in the land which if sufficient land was available could be occupied by the individual (as humans in the state of nature); that is impossible in densely populated areas where about 1.5% of the population are needed for food production and all the available land is annexed by others so individuals either have an equal interest (their birthright - jus soli) in the territory and receive subsistence and shelter in recognition of the donation of their individual material interest (in order to secure their unalienable right to life) or they do not have an unalienable right to life because of their dependence on the goodwill of those controlling their access to subsistence and shelter. Do the British own Britain - no - then they do not have an unalienable right to life because they do not have an inalienable interest in the land beneath their feet.
    I will admit, I don't follow why not owning Britain means people don't have a right to life - they still have shelter, property, and the means to live on.
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    (Original post by shadowdweller)
    I will admit, I don't follow why not owning Britain means people don't have a right to life - they still have shelter, property, and the means to live on.
    '- they still have shelter' tell that to the 250,000 homeless who are housed temporarily at a cost of c£4.5 Billion p.a. their property (in the legal sense) in the land of their birth is like the rest of us nil. Their birthright denied and because it is their right to demand a permanent shelter is dependent on the disposition of a minuscule section of society (0.6% hold 70% of the nation's land, the monarch is titular owner of it all as the feudal superior). That 0.6% decide the fate of 49.4% (c.50% own their own homes, down from 72% in 2006) they are in a position to sell the country from under us (and in fact have, 25% of the land area is registered as owned by overseas interests). The people who own the UK (an international constituency) decide what use it will be put to and how much the British will pay national and international rentiers for it; the leasehold scams perpetrated on families who bought properties that builders constructed on leasehold land (the leases being owned by separate companies created by the builders) perfectly illustrates the iniquitous exploitation of our system of feudal landholding. 'and the means to live on'. According to Ayn Rand‘s version of capitalism, ‘…. in a capitalist society all human relationships are voluntary [as per Rousseau]. Men [and women presumably] are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate‘. In reality in past and present manifestations of capitalism workers are forced to accept a capitalist’s determination of their productive powers worth in order to provide for their own and their dependants' subsistence, they are not in a position to ‘cooperate or not’ because of the appropriation of their inalienable interest in the common domain by capitalists with the power, physical and financial to coerce or purchase the common domain for exclusive use without furnishing concomitant compensation to the population for their exclusion and create an equitable negotiating position in which one individual can say no to another individual without being threatened with severely circumscribed well-being.
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    (Original post by landscape2014)
    '- they still have shelter' tell that to the 250,000 homeless who are housed temporarily at a cost of c£4.5 Billion p.a. their property (in the legal sense) in the land of their birth is like the rest of us nil. Their birthright denied and because it is their right to demand a permanent shelter is dependent on the disposition of a minuscule section of society (0.6% hold 70% of the nation's land, the monarch is titular owner of it all as the feudal superior). That 0.6% decide the fate of 49.4% (c.50% own their own homes, down from 72% in 2006) they are in a position to sell the country from under us (and in fact have, 25% of the land area is registered as owned by overseas interests). The people who own the UK (an international constituency) decide what use it will be put to and how much the British will pay national and international rentiers for it; the leasehold scams perpetrated on families who bought properties that builders constructed on leasehold land (the leases being owned by separate companies created by the builders) perfectly illustrates the iniquitous exploitation of our system of feudal landholding. 'and the means to live on'. According to Ayn Rand‘s version of capitalism, ‘…. in a capitalist society all human relationships are voluntary [as per Rousseau]. Men [and women presumably] are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their individual judgements, convictions and interests dictate‘. In reality in past and present manifestations of capitalism workers are forced to accept a capitalist’s determination of their productive powers worth in order to provide for their own and their dependants' subsistence, they are not in a position to ‘cooperate or not’ because of the appropriation of their inalienable interest in the common domain by capitalists with the power, physical and financial to coerce or purchase the common domain for exclusive use without furnishing concomitant compensation to the population for their exclusion and create an equitable negotiating position in which one individual can say no to another individual without being threatened with severely circumscribed well-being.
    Perhaps you're simply collating arguments that I would consider separate; yes, people have a right to shelter, a right to have means to live on, and the others outlined. Without those I think they have a right to life in the most literal sense, however.
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    (Original post by shadowdweller)
    Perhaps you're simply collating arguments that I would consider separate; yes, people have a right to shelter, a right to have means to live on, and the others outlined. Without those I think they have a right to life in the most literal sense, however.
    Philosophic discussion may be engaged in for determining the foundations upon which to build a coherent society based on dialectic engagement that establishes the ethical basis of the philosophy exposed for consideration, and the social mechanisms required to realize their implementation. If the rhetoric of democratic accountability and a unalienable right to life is to have genuine substance then the inalienable nature of an individual’s property (jus soli) in the common domain that our distant ancestors enjoyed has to be sine qua non. If the ability of an individual to obtain subsistence by their own uncoerced labour (which allowed individuals to accept or refuse subordination to another individual) is to be curtailed then, in a just monetary society that claims to adhere to the principal that human beings have an unalienable right to life, a material and/or monetary consideration to compensate the individual for the denial of that primeval ability to provide for their own subsistence, without reference to any other individual, has to be provided for as an enforceable legal right, so that an individuals unalienable right to life is more than just a rhetorical theme for effusive politicians in the West whose concept of freedom is limited to wage-slavery and/or welfare.
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    How intriguing that you should start this debate with a quote from the American Declaration of Independence, many of whose framers saw no contradiction whatsoever in "holding these truths to be self-evident" whilst, at the same time, owning men in slavery (thereby denying those men some if not all of their allegedly "inalienable rights").

    Let's park "inalienable" for the moment, and just consider for a moment the concept of "right".

    What is a "right"? How is it created and by whom or what is it conferred?

    To the Founding Fathers of America, according to Declaration of Independence, these rights were "conferred by the Creator" ... which is a fair enough sentiment in a society where there is universal (or near-universal) assent to the proposition that a creator deity exists, and no real dissent as to His identity and nature. But that is not a description of modern, multi-cultural, multi-faith (and largely atheist) Britain. There is no near-universal assent to the proposition that a creator deity exists; and so the notion that there can exist rights which have been conferred by Him is unsustainable. Even those such as myself who do profess a belief in a creator deity cannot extrapolate from that the notion of universal, inalienable rights which must of necessity be recognised, accepted and respected by the whole of society, including those who do not share our beliefs.

    Where, then, is the origin of these rights to be found? Who conferred them, and on what authority?

    I struggle also to see why, if we acknowledge the existence of a right to life, it must necessarily follow that any ius soli exists as an appurtenant right. And the "common domain" of our ancestors is a dangerously nebulous and ill-defined concept. I am an Englishman. Is this "common domain" to be defined as England? And if so ... do you mean the England we know today, or should it also include those parts of lowland Scotland which have at various times been governed as part of England? Or should we, conversely, be excluding Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, given that they have at various times been part of Scotland. What about Calais, and other parts of what is now France which were, in the times of our ancestors, ruled by the kings of England? Then again, kings Edward VII, George V and Edward VIII were, for the whole of their respective reigns, also Emperors of India? Does that make India a part of the solus in which I have a ius soli as a consequence of my right to life? Or am I limiting myself to too recent a set of ancestors? Should I be looking back to the time of the Heptarchy, and limiting my ancestral claim to a ius soli to the lands of Mercia? Or can I go back a little further still and claim the whole of the erstwhile Roman Empire as my ancestral solus?

    No ... for the time being, I remain unpersuaded by your arguments, eloquent though they be.
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    Nothing is truly "unalienable". That would be a form of absolutism. Not even free speech is "unalienable", is it would imply the right to harassment, stalking and death threats... which are illegal.

    So no, people do not have an "unalienable" right to life. And I'm well aware that the law factors this in.

    That's the paradox that comes with equal rights. You can't administer them fairly, by default, since people themselves are not equal and behave differently from one another. Some are taller, some shorter. Some more aggressive, some less. Some kill for sport, others out of self-defense against those that do. It's not logical that such people should have rights to the same opportunities in life, or even necessarily the right to life itself if they do not respect it in others.

    Someone also said once that "you don't have rights that you can't defend", or something along those lines. That's the most pragmatic and blunt truth I think, without invoking divine powers of God and the like. You can concoct whatever pretty recipe you like on paper and call it anything you want. It may even work, at least in the short term, or maybe even long term. But if your success in the long term nurtures complacency and self-entitlement to the extent that you forget the value of work, or have never even had to question your own odds of survival... then you'll get replaced by stronger people who do. Often violently.

    To word it differently: "rights" take hard work and fight to uphold. If a country's people get lazy and stop doing it, whose going to pick up the slack? Merely having "rights" doesn't entitle a person so sit and smoke cigars and reel the money in, nor does it entitle another person to sit and smoke pot and claim welfare for their entire adult life.
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    I feel a more salient question would be does an individual have an inalienable right to death. A proposition the government apparently finds distasteful :rolleyes:
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    A few responses:
    (1) Inalienable in this context does not necessarily entail an absolute (as in all-encompassing) right. Take aside the definitional scope of the right to life. Inalienable simply means the right is immune from being taken away.
    (2) Some people rely on an act-omission distinction to get around this right. They argue that there is a distinction between letting someone die/foreseeing their death and intentionally killing them. The right to life proscribes the latter. This gets around self-defense and cutting off life support, for example.
    (3) Distinguishing between a right to life and a right to the good life would be helpful. Modern liberal democracies shy away from trying to define the 'good life,' relying on principles of individual autonomy. A right to birth citizenship and a monetary compensation, I think, are related to a right to the good life but not to a right to life in and of itself. A right to life can be grounded without having to define a good life, in my opinion.
    (4) I think an inalienable right to death would be hard to justify. First, can the right-holder then alter the obligations of others (allowing others to kill him). This would distinguish between euthanasia and assisted suicide. Second, can the freedom to choose (autonomy) apply to surrendering that freedom? Think of voluntarily selling oneself to slavery. Finally, I would distinguish between de-criminalizing suicide (which seems needlessly cruel) and finding a right to suicide.
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    Issue #1:

    No one has raised the quite important distinction between negative and positive rights.

    An inalienable right to life, which is typically a negative right, merely means a right of non-interference. The other things you mention are only relevant if you insist that the right is positive, which many jurisdictions do not accept.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    Issue #1:

    No one has raised the quite important distinction between negative and positive rights.

    An inalienable right to life, which is typically a negative right, merely means a right of non-interference. The other things you mention are only relevant if you insist that the right is positive, which many jurisdictions do not accept.
    I disagree that the distinction is that important. In my view, the positive-negative right distinction is hard to justify, notwithstanding its widespread acceptance among libertarians. Especially in cases of life. Consider the duties and obligations that necessarily entail from a negative right to life. And if human life is valuable enough to entail a negative right, why wouldn't we have a positive obligation to allow life to flourish?
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    (Original post by AngeloR)
    I disagree that the distinction is that important. In my view, the positive-negative right distinction is hard to justify, notwithstanding its widespread acceptance among libertarians.
    It’s not merely accepted by libertarians. It’s accepted by every single common law legal system, International law, and probably civil legal systems as well.

    Especially in cases of life. Consider the duties and obligations that necessarily entail from a negative right to life.
    It’s a right a non-interference; where you’re getting the idea that obligations necessarily flow from an obligation of non-interference is extremely unclear.

    I, as an agent, cannot interfere directly with your life, such as murdering you. But I’m under no obligation to provide food to you. Causing your death and allowing you to die are the relevant disctinction.


    And if human life is valuable enough to entail a negative right, why wouldn't we have a positive obligation to allow life to flourish?
    Because it’s a negative right. Why would a positive obligation flow from a negative right? That would make the right a positive right, not a negative right. A negative right is one that does not enable me to make demands of you for you to provide goods for me, that would be a positive right.

    Rights to socioeconomic goods are rare, in many instances because countries can not afford to provide such a right to all persons within their jurisdiction.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    It’s not merely accepted by libertarians. It’s accepted by every single common law legal system, International law, and probably civil legal systems as well.



    It’s a right a non-interference; where you’re getting the idea that obligations necessarily flow from an obligation of non-interference is extremely unclear.

    I, as an agent, cannot interfere directly with your life, such as murdering you. But I’m under no obligation to provide food to you. Causing your death and allowing you to die are the relevant disctinction.




    Because it’s a negative right. Why would a positive obligation flow from a negative right? That would make the right a positive right, not a negative right. A negative right is one that does not enable me to make demands of you for you to provide goods for me, that would be a positive right.

    Rights to socioeconomic goods are rare, in many instances because countries can not afford to provide such a right to all persons within their jurisdiction.
    Negative rights are widely accepted in law. This is because rights (in a legal sense) are generally rights enforced against the government. But laws (at least positive law) don't say much about moral obligations.

    OK. Lets say that you have a right to not be murdered. Are you suggesting that this does not entail a claim by you (as an agent) for some security by the government?

    Consider anarchy. I'm not sure you have a right to life at that point. And even if you do, I think you also have a right to an institution that would give you at least some semblance of security over your life, IF you indeed have a right to life.

    I am actually ideologically sympathetic to your limited view of socio-economic rights. In fact, I would argue that international law takes a very dim view (or nonexistent view) of negative rights. Consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example. But in this case, I would think that international law supports my view. Take for example the case Neira Alegría et al. v. Peru in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which imposed a positive duty to "take care" when planning an operation.
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    (Original post by AngeloR)
    Negative rights are widely accepted in law. This is because rights (in a legal sense) are generally rights enforced against the government. But laws (at least positive law) don't say much about moral obligations.
    Sure. But in many cases law reproduces the conditions of morality — law can, but need not, contain moral rules.

    OK. Lets say that you have a right to not be murdered. Are you suggesting that this does not entail a claim by you (as an agent) for some security by the government?
    I would say that. An obligation to maintain your well-being would be rooted in some obligation to do with your continued well-being. To use an easy example, under libertarianism, the obligation to maintain your well-being would be placed with the paid for security force under a contractual agreement.

    Consider anarchy. I'm not sure you have a right to life at that point. And even if you do, I think you also have a right to an institution that would give you at least some semblance of security over your life, IF you indeed have a right to life.
    I don’t see why one would necessarily follow from another, unless you’re crafting your argument and premises in a very precise manner specifically to make that the case.

    I am actually ideologically sympathetic to your limited view of socio-economic rights. In fact, I would argue that international law takes a very dim view (or nonexistent view) of negative rights. Consider the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for example. But in this case, I would think that international law supports my view. Take for example the case Neira Alegría et al. v. Peru in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which imposed a positive duty to "take care" when planning an operation.
    I would have to disagree, and I would disagree that your cited case supports a positive right. I can have a duty to consider your interests without you having a negative right.

    I must “take care” to not murder you on a negative view, but this doesn’t convert the right into a positive right. Considering my actions =/= owing you goods.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    Sure. But in many cases law reproduces the conditions of morality — law can, but need not, contain moral rules.



    I would say that. An obligation to maintain your well-being would be rooted in some obligation to do with your continued well-being. To use an easy example, under libertarianism, the obligation to maintain your well-being would be placed with the paid for security force under a contractual agreement.



    I don’t see why one would necessarily follow from another, unless you’re crafting your argument and premises in a very precise manner specifically to make that the case.



    I would have to disagree, and I would disagree that your cited case supports a positive right. I can have a duty to consider your interests without you having a negative right.

    I must “take care” to not murder you on a negative view, but this doesn’t convert the right into a positive right. Considering my actions =/= owing you goods.
    I take your point that positive law can contain moral rules. I agree. But the justification of such moral rules must come from outside the law.

    You seem to strongly associate positive rights with "owing you goods." That's fine in most instances which libertarianism is concerned with (economic goods). But this view does not translate well to matters of human life.

    Positive rights, in the broad sense, refers (in my view) to an imposed obligation to do something, as opposed to an injunction to not do something.

    And here, I think, the distinction becomes muddled. Hence my earlier assertion that the distinction, in and of itself, says little about this debate. You have to disclose the basis of why you believe a negative right exists. I would argue that most basis for such a negative right would, morally, obligate us to do something. At the very least, it would obligate us to preserve autonomy (if we take a classical liberal justification). Positive-negative distinction is extremely similar to the philosophical distinction between acts and omissions. That view, on similar grounds, is similarly controversial.
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    (Original post by AngeloR)
    I take your point that positive law can contain moral rules. I agree. But the justification of such moral rules must come from outside the law.

    You seem to strongly associate positive rights with "owing you goods." That's fine in most instances which libertarianism is concerned with (economic goods). But this view does not translate well to matters of human life.

    Positive rights, in the broad sense, refers (in my view) to an imposed obligation to do something, as opposed to an injunction to not do something.

    And here, I think, the distinction becomes muddled. Hence my earlier assertion that the distinction, in and of itself, says little about this debate. You have to disclose the basis of why you believe a negative right exists. I would argue that most basis for such a negative right would, morally, obligate us to do something. At the very least, it would obligate us to preserve autonomy (if we take a classical liberal justification). Positive-negative distinction is extremely similar to the philosophical distinction between acts and omissions. That view, on similar grounds, is similarly controversial.
    I agree, in part, with your distinction between positive and negative rights, but I don’t think it’s correct. Negative rights are injunction to not do something to you, the agent. This is why in not doing something to you, I might still be required to consider my actions in relation to you.
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    (Original post by NYU2012)
    I agree, in part, with your distinction between positive and negative rights, but I don’t think it’s correct. Negative rights are injunction to not do something to you, the agent. This is why in not doing something to you, I might still be required to consider my actions in relation to you.
    Sure. I agree. I still don’t how that distinction justified limiting a right to life to it’s negative sense. Are you grounding that right on a concern for autonomy? On Kantian grounds?
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    (Original post by AngeloR)
    Sure. I agree. I still don’t how that distinction justified limiting a right to life to it’s negative sense. Are you grounding that right on a concern for autonomy? On Kantian grounds?
    I never claimed to be supporting either a positive or negative right to life. I merely pointed out that no one considered this distinction, which is extremely common in law.
 
 
 
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