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14308RE: [LandCafe] Re: FT

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  • David Reed
    Nov 14, 2012
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      I don't know why you are continuing to engage with this extremist mediocrity Langston.He has upped the delusional rhetoric to fascist levels. His idea of beneficial human outcomes is "Reproductive success, persisting after competitors have become extinct."And he means extinct literally.He concludes with a ringing declaration of the Hitlerite objective of breeding a large army to prevail by military attrition over the enemy!(New para)
      It is clear from this that his right to free-of- land-tax property is aimed at directing state aid to large families who thus have loyalty to their genetically determined society ("every human society consists of human beings who have a specific biological nature in common") which is in endless conflict with  everybody else on the planet and needs industrial/cannon fodder.
      (New para)
      I know you do not hold linguistic philosophies in high esteem but your insensitivity to what is going on and what he is actually saying is ridiculous. (see Max Frisch "The Fire Raisers")
      (New para) I am not staying on this site to be assailed by this fascist bullshit (it is not even pseudo- or quasi- fascist bullshit) while so-called intelligent people smile indulgently . I advise you to get out while you can, too.


      To: LandCafe@yahoogroups.com
      From: roy_langston@...
      Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2012 00:30:20 +0000
      Subject: [LandCafe] Re: FT

      --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "walto" <calhorn@...> wrote:

      > > > Seriously, the basic problem here is that the term "rights" is used in several different ways.
      > >
      > > Yes, there is an intractable equivocation problem whenever we talk of rights. IMO we need to keep at least three different senses of the word straight: the "legal" rights specified in laws, contracts, etc.; the "effective" rights society recognizes -- which, in a democracy, legal rights attempt to formalize and codify (with varying degrees of success); and "natural" rights, which are the effective rights societies would recognize if everyone knew everything they had to know about people and how rights would affect their ultimate outcomes (i.e., if we could somehow play out a simulation of evolution all the way through the endgame).
      > The problem I see above is that the term "rights" is used to explain (and not actually define, unfortunately) "natural rights" "legal rights" and "effective rights." The first desideratum should be to give some sense of what is meant by a right, simpliciter.

      That's a valid issue, but your concern, expressed at top, was that the word was being used in several different ways, as indeed it is. So that's what I tried to straighten out. Now you are raising a different issue: the underlying meaning those different uses of the word have in common. You propose:

      > ... maybe something like "entitlement" would do. Then, a traditional position might be something like this:
      > "legal rights"--those goods to which some person or persons is provided an entitlement by some law or contract.
      > "natural rights"--those goods to which some person or persons have an inalienable entitlement, just in virtue of existing as a person.

      Using "entitlement" to substitute for "right" doesn't really solve the problem, though. What is an entitlement in this sense? What is its effect or mechanism in the case of natural rights?

      I'd prefer to construct the definition in terms of more concrete and fundamental concepts: a right is an undertaking by a society to constrain its members' behavior wrt one another, with natural rights being the hypothetical undertakings of an ideal society of wise, enlightened people.

      > You turn these around by defining "natural rights" in terms of what you've called "effective rights." Maybe something like this:
      > "natural rights"--those goods to which participants of some particular society are claimed to be entitled based on the theory that their provision is most conducive to "beneficial human outcomes."

      I think it's more accurate to say that natural rights are the ones that apply to any human society, inasmuch as every human society consists of human beings who have a specific biological nature in common. Unlike the societies of other social animals, which operate mainly on their members' instinctive behaviors, human societies need rights because our instincts are weak compared to our learned behaviors, and because cultural evolution is far too rapid for genetic evolution to keep up. Rights have probably become even more crucial in recent centuries, as technological evolution is much more rapid still.

      > It's odd to call those "natural" though, since, presumably any society might be wrong about the matter.

      As it's a question of empirical fact, yes, any society might be wrong about it. There may be no final answer at all. But that's what makes it "natural": it's a fact of nature, though one we haven't actually nailed down yet.

      > It probably would be better to just say something like:
      > "natural rights" those goods whose entitlement by society would be most conducive to beneficial human outcomes [whatever those are, exactly]

      Reproductive success: persisting after competitors have become extinct. It's important to understand that rights have got us that far already, and wouldn't exist if they hadn't. History is in part an account of the competition between different societies' understanding of rights.

      > Again, I think that would be preferable because your proposal has an epistemic element: it says they're natural just in case they're THOUGHT to be the most beneficial entitlements.

      No, our opinion isn't what _makes_ rights natural; it's only our best guess as to what rights ARE natural: i.e., what rights nature will reward with reproductive success.

      > I don't really have much problem with that way of looking at things. It moves the key questions from the "natural law" arena to the "naturally beneficial" arena.

      IMO the key point is that they are one and the same. Our concept of rights _originates_ in what is naturally beneficial (i.e., reproductively successful).

      > But, of course, the questions remain terribly difficult, wherever one puts them.

      Yes, and as it's an open empirical question, I don't pretend to have final answers. However, we can apply the known epistemological tests such as internal consistency and consistency with accepted facts to separate the likely from the unlikely candidates. There is a lot of interesting theoretical and modeling work being done in this area now with lethal conflict theory, etc. IMO a key factor, and one that is very hard to model or quantify, is the degree to which a society secures its members' loyalty. Rights may be crucial to the patriotism that enables a society to prevail in armed conflict.

      -- Roy Langston

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