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Re: rights v. power struggles

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  • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
    Comrade Mueller is not formally a member of this board due to time considerations, but I often forward material on this board to him and articles and comments
    Message 1 of 24 , Dec 10 11:37 AM
      Comrade Mueller is not formally a member of this board due to time
      considerations, but I often forward material on this board to him
      and articles and comments of his to this board. In forwarding this
      response to him, I shall make a few comments of my own.

      >Human rights include all of the areas more commonly known as economic
      >rights ("free markets"), personal rights ("personal freedoms"), and
      >political rights ("civil rights"). My definition of human rights,
      >(rules of conduct that, when followed, lead to greater human well-
      >being than when they are ignored) does not circumscribe the types of
      >rules or the spheres in which such rules apply.

      Apart from the contention that the right of civilians not to be killed
      in warfare is a natural human right, we are thus far in the dark as to
      exactly what Jason regards as being the natural human rights. Thus
      we can only speak in general terms at this stage unless Jason wishes
      to discuss specific rights in addition to those he has already discussed.
      Given that we may not perfectly understand what rules of conduct lead
      to greater human happiness, it follows from this philosophy that there
      may be natural human rights whose existence is yet unknown.

      >If I may summarize his lengthy and informative message, your friend
      >Eric seems to agree that economic prosperity can arise from economic
      >rights/economic freedoms, but also notes some broad classes of
      >significant problems that appear to arise when such rights are
      >observed:
      >
      > (1) Businesses produce dangerous or shoddy products
      > (2) Businesses destroy the environment
      > (3) Respect for personal and political rights do not correlate with
      >respect for economic rights in a society
      >
      >I would agree that all of the above are very real problems, though we
      >may disagree as to their causes and appropriate remedies. Taking
      >each in turn:
      >
      > (1) Businesses produce dangerous or shoddy products
      >
      >The cause of this is clearly (to me :-) the deliberate mechanism for
      >deflection of personal responsibility known as the corporate form of
      >business. Forming a corporation accomplishes two primary things
      >entirely by government fiat:
      > * The legal separation of owners and managers.
      > * The elimination of personal liability for both owners and managers.
      >
      >Both of these purported corporate benefits serve only to insulate the
      >individuals involved from the full and just consequences of their
      >decisions and actions. As a bone to throw the consumer, wealthy
      >individuals so insulated will often consent to certain minimal health
      >and safety government regulation of their industries -- regulations
      >which are at least as effecive at stifling competition from smaller
      >firms as they are at insuring only healthy and safe products reach
      >the marketplace.
      >
      >It amazes me how many problems are laid at the feet of a free
      >economy, problems which are actually due to the unjust special
      >protections and benefits that governments everywhere heap on
      >individuals who fill out a little paperwork entitling them to call
      >themselves "corporations". Absent the corporate veil (and, I
      >suppose, corruption in the legal system which is also present in
      >greater or lesser degrees worldwide), marketing a product with
      >undisclosed dangers would bring unmitigated financial ruin upon all
      >those involved in its production. Owners and managers would be
      >jointly and severally liable for harm caused by such products. Such
      >a system would constitute a far superior deterrent to the production
      >of dangerous products than either regulation or nationalization of
      >industry, with none of the negative impacts on the competitive
      >environment.
      >
      >Most so called free-market proponents (ie conservatives) aren't
      >really in favor of a free market at all because they cherish the
      >corporation, the biggest and most unjust government intervention in
      >the free market ever invented. Such individuals are rightly viewed
      >as "corporatists" or the slightly more antiquated "mercantilists"
      >rather than free marketers. It's a huge educational task to inform
      >the world of just how anti-freedom and anti-rights the concept of the
      >corporation really is; I have only recently come to fully understand
      >it myself.
      >
      >As somewhat of a side comment, it is also my opinion that most of the
      >left's concerns about worker exploitation and concentration of
      >capital are attributable to the existance of corporations and the
      >protective/regulatory regimes that they inevitably engender, rather
      >than the effects of a free market economic system per se.

      Interesting concept, capitalism without the corporation. Modern industrial
      capitalism is dependent upon corporations. There have been a few cases
      of large scale firms being run as sole proprietorships until recent times
      (the Krupps managed to remain a sole proprietorship until 1967), but
      the industrial revolution, at least its later stages, would have been
      seriously hobbled without the corporation. It allowed the pooling of
      capital for capital-intensive projects where it might not have been
      available in private hands in sufficient quantities (and where banks would
      lack confidence in loaning so much money to one individual who had
      little collateral). The only other way I could see to concentrate capital
      for the large industries that form the commanding heights of an industrial
      society is the collective ownership of the means of production, but then
      again, that's not capitalism :-)

      In short, I don't see a corporate-free capitalism as workable, at least not
      at our level of technology. In any case, I am also not convinced that
      the problem is solely based on the legal ability of corporate stockholders
      to evade some of their responsibilities. Sole proprietorships and
      partnerships get away with many of these abuses also, if by no other means
      than bribing officials and in desperation filing for bankruptcy.

      > (2) Businesses destroy the environment
      >
      >The cause of this is the ability of businesses, usually corporations,
      >to pollute without bearing the true economic costs of such
      >pollution. They are able to do so because the areas they are
      >directly polluting are considered "public" (owned by everyone...or no
      >one...depending on what context you ask). What this amounts to is a
      >free license to pollute, which of course an astute businessman will
      >take full advantage of. As with corporate liability protection, the
      >beneficiaries of the free license to pollute often consent to some
      >minimal government regulation, as a bone thrown to the rest of
      >society. Corporate liability protection also contributes to the
      >pollution problem, as even when liability for harm caused by
      >pollution is assesed to a corporation, the individual assets of the
      >owners and managers who caused the pollution are protected from
      >confiscation to pay the just debt so incurred.
      >
      >The solution, in addition to eliminating the corporation's special
      >liability protection, is to create ownership rights in areas which
      >have traditionally been deemed "public" and then allow the owners to
      >sue for property destruction. In the case of open sewers flowing
      >hazardous waste through a city, it's clear that the owners of
      >properties affected by the fumes have suffered a loss, which should
      >be financially recoverable. The owner of the sewer would be liable,
      >giving him/her an incentive to regulate what businesses could put in
      >it and charging them an appropriate fee. More likely the owner would
      >find it more economical to cover the sewer and avoid the problem.
      >
      >Nor should the property rights end at the seashore, since if property
      >rights were extended at least out to the beginning of international
      >waters, twelve miles if I remember correctly, the waste couldn't just
      >be dumped where it's likely to be consumed.

      I don't see that private ownership of every body of water or cubic metre
      of air is any more practical than the current system, and it would be
      difficult to prove which factory polluted my air and by how much and
      to how much damages I am entitled for same. That would only encourage
      frivolous lawsuits on the one hand or destruction of the right to sue on
      the other, depending on how the legal system responded. That would also
      add another can of worms with respect to people having to pay tolls to
      travel everywhere to the point at which travel would be paralyzed.

      > (3) Respect for personal and political rights do not always
      >correlate with respect for economic rights in a society
      >
      >This isn't a problem with economic rights or economic prosperity per
      >se, simply an observation that respect for economic rights doesn't
      >guerantee (or perhaps even predict) the observation of other rights
      >which may be equally important to human well-being. This is quite
      >true, and another area in which the public must be educated. Rights
      >and freedoms are not simply a one dimensional measure of the ability
      >of business to make a profit.
      >
      >Without a doubt, many societies with a relatively high degree of
      >respect for economic rights have little or no respect for other
      >rights, with a correspondingly negative impact on the well-being of
      >the subject population when compared to economic status alone.
      >Conversely, many societies with a relatively low degree of respect
      >for economic rights have comparitively more respect for other rights,
      >with a correspondingly positive impact on the well-being of the
      >subject population when compared to economic status alone.
      >
      >Such a situation in no way indicates that economic rights are not
      >valuable or should not be observed...simply that there is much more
      >to be concerned about than just economic rights.
      >
      >--Jason Auvenshine

      I would contend that making the unrestricted use of private property a
      basic human right would per se prevent members of society harmed by same
      from having the human right to avoid such harm. In the end, that which
      cannot practically be achieved, however great its theoretical benefits to
      humanity, cannot be a human right. To think it were would be anti-
      materialist. I would certainly apply that criterion to considering the
      right of civilians to be unharmed in warfare, as the history of warfare
      shows that this is unobtainable, even if it were desirable.

      --Kevin
    • snail@aztec.asu.edu
      ... the libertarian platform says people should be responsible for their actions. if i damage you i should be required to pay or fix the damages i caused to
      Message 2 of 24 , Dec 11 10:03 AM
        >Interesting concept, capitalism without the corporation. Modern industrial
        >capitalism is dependent upon corporations. There have been a few cases

        the libertarian platform says people
        should be responsible for their actions.

        if i damage you i should be required
        to pay or fix the damages i caused to
        you.

        in a libertarian world if a group of
        people ban together to do some type
        of business venture they and the group
        should still be accountable for their
        actions.

        if the group sells you shoddy products
        that dont work, or products that
        malfunction and hurt you the group
        should be expected to either return
        your money if the product doesnt work,
        or if malfunctioning product hurt you
        pay you to fix the damages.

        i dont have anything against that group
        of people calling itself a corporation.
        but the corporation should be liable
        for any damages it causes to people.

        now if the government gives corporations
        special right and says corporations dont have
        have to be accountable for their actions
        i have major problems with that.

        and the government often does that. for
        example the government has passed laws
        making nuclear power plants not liable
        for ALL of the damages they cause when
        accidents happen.

        and in the case of this homeland security
        bullshit the government wants to say
        the corporations that produce the
        small pox vaccination are not liable for
        any damages it cause.

        both of those laws are wrong.

        --
        "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
        when the government fears the people, there is liberty "
        Thomas Jefferson
      • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
        Part 1 of a topic split, will address the issues of corporations and private property in a second message... ... killed ... to ... discussed. ... lead ...
        Message 3 of 24 , Dec 11 1:28 PM
          Part 1 of a topic split, will address the issues of corporations and
          private property in a second message...

          --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
          > Apart from the contention that the right of civilians not to be
          killed
          > in warfare is a natural human right, we are thus far in the dark as
          to
          > exactly what Jason regards as being the natural human rights. Thus
          > we can only speak in general terms at this stage unless Jason wishes
          > to discuss specific rights in addition to those he has already
          discussed.
          > Given that we may not perfectly understand what rules of conduct
          lead
          > to greater human happiness, it follows from this philosophy that
          there
          > may be natural human rights whose existence is yet unknown.

          Natural rights are of course a subset of the general concept of
          rights. Thus I believe there are two aspects to the question of
          natural rights: First, is the general concept of rights valid?
          Second, if the general concept rights is valid, are natural rights a
          valid subset of rights, being those whose definition is dictated by
          nature?

          In regards to the concept of rights, you seem to be dubious of the
          entire concept of rights because rights are violated with
          regularity. This, I believe, misses the point. Rights are rules of
          human conduct that, when observed, make human beings better off.
          Rights can be astoundingly trivial in some cases, and in those cases
          it's easier to discuss them because there's little emotional
          attachment to the ideas involved. For example, in an intersection
          with a traffic light, the cars in the direction of the green light
          have the "right of way", and the cars in the direction of the red
          light do not have the right of way. Though trivial and definitely
          not a natural right, the term "right of way" is in fact quite
          appropriate to this situation because when the right of way is
          observed, human beings are better off than when it is not observed.
          Does the "right of way" associated with a green light cease to be a
          right (useful rule for improving human well-being) simply because
          people run red lights with some regularity? I would say not. The
          concept of right of way is useful in improving human well-being
          regardless of the rate at which it is observed. The extent to which
          it _actually_ improves human well-being is dependent upon the rate at
          which it is observed. A right which is never observed would in fact
          have zero actual benefit to human well-being. That fact, however,
          invalidates neither the general concept of rights nor the specific
          right which is not being observed.

          The other key aspect to understanding rights as rules of conduct is
          the recognition that the existance and knowledge of such rules does
          not, in itself, control human behavior. That depends upon the extent
          to which an individual believes honoring the rule with respect to
          others is beneficial to his/her own existance, which is in turn quite
          often dependant upon the reaction of others in the society to a
          violation of the rule.

          Once it is established that a given right will, if followed, improve
          human well-being, the next important question is what do the rest of
          us do when that right is alleged to have been violated? There seems
          to be near universal recognition that some violations are worse than
          others, and in fact some violations may be justified by a more
          important right. Considering the trivial example of rights of way,
          few would disagree that someone would be justified in running a red
          light if there appeared to be no cars coming in the other direction
          and he was attempting to transport a gravely injured passenger to the
          hospital in time to stop him from bleeding to death. In the case of
          all but the most trivial of alleged rights violations, it is
          generally understood that a group of people (commonly called a jury)
          must decide whether the violation actually occurred, and if it did
          occur whether it was justified by some other, more important, right.
          In some cases, the jury also decides the punishment and in other
          cases it is a judge. The point is that rights do not cease to exist
          because there may at times be a justification for violating them; a
          system needs to be in place to evaluate and punish violations as
          appropriate to the specific situation.

          Assuming that I have convinced you that the underlying concept of
          rights is a valid one, we turn to the question of the existance of
          natural rights. Obviously, the association of a "right of way" with
          a green colored traffic light is entirely arbitrary. It might just
          as well have been (and sometimes is) a "go" sign, a raised bar, or a
          flag. Or we might have decided to make all of our intersections
          continuous flow, wherein the right of way consisted solely in
          traveling in the correct direction. Are all valid rights as
          arbitrary as traffic signals? I don't think so.

          Human beings have two aspects to their nature which I believe bear
          directly upon the right not to be killed. The first aspect is a
          strong innate desire not to be killed, so strong in fact that most
          human beings will inflict great destruction on others in order to
          avoid it. The second aspect is that we are innately tribal, meaning
          that we innately respond to an act against someone close to us
          (family, sometimes close friends) as strongly and sometimes even
          moreso than an attack on ourselves. These two aspects of human
          nature arose from our evolutionary history and are not changeable at
          least in the short term. When you combine them, what you get in
          absence of a right not to be killed is escalation of violence. One
          person decides to kill someone else, so that person and all his
          family/friends retaliate against the attacker and all of his
          family/friends. The conflict escalates until something external (a
          lack of remaining combatants, physical distance, etc.) causes it to
          cease. This is obviously very bad for human well-being. Most people
          think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree to
          settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
          the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
          benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".

          I think the traditional "life, liberty, and property" is a good start
          at a high level list of natural human rights. Discussing additional
          specific natural rights is rather pointless, however, if you don't
          recognize the concept of natural human rights as having any
          validity. If you don't recognize a right of peaceful people not to
          be killed, then you're certainly not going to recognize any other
          rights.

          Finally, there absolutely could be, and probably are, natural rights
          whose existance is yet unknown, though I suspect these would be more
          like applications of old natural rights concepts to new technological
          developments. A hypothetical example would involve cloning,
          particularly of the currently science-fictional variety -- a "copy"
          of one person with all of their memories and skills -- as opposed to
          the currently real variety where a new organism is grown from a
          single cell and shares only the DNA of the source. Would an exact
          duplicate of one person have all the same rights as a separate
          person? Or would the copy be "owned" by the source in some way? Or
          something else? I would speculate that such questions may involve
          the recognition of heretofore unconsidered rights.

          > In the end, that which
          > cannot practically be achieved, however great its theoretical
          benefits to
          > humanity, cannot be a human right. To think it were would be anti-
          > materialist. I would certainly apply that criterion to considering
          the
          > right of civilians to be unharmed in warfare, as the history of
          warfare
          > shows that this is unobtainable, even if it were desirable.

          Again, the question is not whether or not total respect for the
          rights of civilians is obtainable, but whether or not we're better
          off having the rule (recognizing the right) than not having the
          rule. It is true that in every war civilians are harmed
          (gee...another great reason to oppose war), but fewer civilians are
          harmed than would otherwise be, because of the existance of a
          recognized difference between civilians and combatants.

          --Jason Auvenshine
        • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
          Part 2 of the topic split... ... industrial ... cases ... times ... been ... I believe the prevalence of corporations is a case of crowding out rather than one
          Message 4 of 24 , Dec 11 1:53 PM
            Part 2 of the topic split...

            --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
            > Interesting concept, capitalism without the corporation. Modern
            industrial
            > capitalism is dependent upon corporations. There have been a few
            cases
            > of large scale firms being run as sole proprietorships until recent
            times
            > (the Krupps managed to remain a sole proprietorship until 1967), but
            > the industrial revolution, at least its later stages, would have
            been
            > seriously hobbled without the corporation.

            I believe the prevalence of corporations is a case of crowding out
            rather than one of necessity. If the government is offering an
            essentially free benefit (liability protection), those who do not
            take advantage of it are at a competitive disadvantage.

            Mike is also right in saying that there's nothing wrong per se with a
            group calling itself a corporation and doing "corporation-type
            things" like pooling capital. The problem is related to the
            liability protections, however ALL corporations receive the basic
            protection which goes much further than the specific laws to which
            Mike referred (which heap badness upon badness, IMHO :-).

            > It allowed the pooling of
            > capital for capital-intensive projects where it might not have been
            > available in private hands in sufficient quantities (and where
            banks would
            > lack confidence in loaning so much money to one individual who had
            > little collateral).

            What is it about the pooling of capital which necessitates liability
            protection? There's nothing to prevent one business from being owned
            by a very large number of limited partners. Absent government
            liability protection, it is likely that investors would opt to
            purchase liability insurance, the premium of which would be
            proportional to both the size and the risk of their investments. As
            it is now, the consumer bears the risk of unsafe products. Absent
            corporate liability protections it is reasonable to presume that
            investors would bear some of that risk, reducing somewhat the
            propensity of people to invest. Thus, the total pool of capital
            might be somewhat reduced. However, and more importantly, that
            capital would be directed towards investments which pose a
            comparitively smaller risk of injuring consumers, and away from
            projects which pose a comparitively higher risk of injuring consumers.

            > In short, I don't see a corporate-free capitalism as workable, at
            least not
            > at our level of technology. In any case, I am also not convinced
            that
            > the problem is solely based on the legal ability of corporate
            stockholders
            > to evade some of their responsibilities. Sole proprietorships and
            > partnerships get away with many of these abuses also, if by no
            other means
            > than bribing officials and in desperation filing for bankruptcy.

            I did include the caveat about corruption in the legal system, which
            includes officals who take bribes. I believe joint and several
            liability addresses most of the concerns of bankruptcy, since unless
            ALL of those involved go bankrupt and have no liability insurance,
            someone is still on the hook to pay. Furthermore, personal
            bankruptcy (as opposed to corporate bankruptcy, which is a joke) is
            disruptive enough to one's financial well-being that those who
            cherish wealth are likely to take great care to avoid it.

            No system guarantees safe products. Dangerous products will get made
            under capitalism, communism, or any other system you or I could
            devise. When evaluating any system the relevant question concerns
            the incentives of that system, in this case regarding product
            safety. The incentives of the system determine the likelihood of
            unsafe products being made, and are almost exclusively determined by
            who bears the costs of the harm caused by unsafe products. I believe
            a market system wherein corporate liability protection was not
            available would provide the best possible dis-incentive to the
            creation and manufacture of unsafe products, by directing to the
            greatest extent possible the costs of that harm in the direction of
            those who caused it.

            > I don't see that private ownership of every body of water or cubic
            metre
            > of air is any more practical than the current system, and it would
            be
            > difficult to prove which factory polluted my air and by how much and
            > to how much damages I am entitled for same. That would only
            encourage
            > frivolous lawsuits on the one hand or destruction of the right to
            sue on
            > the other, depending on how the legal system responded.

            Ever been in a "chain reaction" accident where one car slams into
            another, causing another car to slam into it, etc.? If you're the
            fifth guy back, you usually don't sue the guy who caused the accident
            in the first place, you sue the guy who directly caused you harm, who
            in turn sues the guy in front of him, etc. until you get to the guy
            that caused it in the first place. How this relates to pollution is,
            if noxious fumes enter my property from someone else's property, I
            have a cause of action against that person whether they created the
            fumes or not. Of course, they then have an incentive to prove it
            wasn't them by proving where it actually came from. In actual
            practice, it's rather hard to "secretly" significantly and regularly
            pollute the air. It's somewhat easier to pollute water, but water
            rights are typically owned by far fewer individuals with a far
            greater incentive to monitor the integrity of their property on an
            ongoing basis and track sources of pollution to their source.
            Because of these reasons I believe knowing WHO to sue would not
            problem.

            On the other hand, establishing fair damages, as well as handling the
            sheer number of lawsuits, do in fact pose problems. Such problems
            are likely to be mitigated by a "loser pays" system of court funding,
            coupled with the ability of groups to file class action suits. This
            provides a disincentive to frivolous suits and individual suits of
            small magnitude, while forcing polluters to pay for small amounts of
            harm caused to large numbers of people.

            > That would also
            > add another can of worms with respect to people having to pay tolls
            to
            > travel everywhere to the point at which travel would be paralyzed.

            Whenever the topic of private ownership arises, somebody always
            brings up roads. :-) People think of having tollbooths every 50
            feet, which is totally silly and would never happen. We already have
            the technology and the business model to handle fully private roads
            in a convenient and cost-effective manner: it's called the cellular
            telephone. Do you have any idea how many different actual owners
            there are for cell phone towers and other infrastructure in this
            country? No, of course not, because you don't have to. There are
            many owners, and they have internal agreements with each other so
            that customers can "roam" from one system to another when necessary
            without being bothered by the details. You pay a monthly fee for a
            certain amount of use in your "home" area, and when you travel your
            phone usually just works. Depending on the plan, you may or may not
            pay an extra fee when you roam. If you talk a lot, you pay extra for
            that too. But you don't have to come up with a quarter every minute,
            you don't get 10 different cellular bills, and your costs are usually
            pretty reasonable and commensurate with your use of the system. A
            private transportation infrastructure could function similarly.

            > I would contend that making the unrestricted use of private
            property a
            > basic human right would per se prevent members of society harmed by
            same
            > from having the human right to avoid such harm.

            The point at which the use of private property harms others, it
            ceases to be simply the use of private property. For example, if I
            own a baseball bat I can swing it around as much as I like. But if
            it hits your head, I've infringed on your rights. Similarly, I can
            pollute water that I own as much as I like, but if that polluted
            water mixes with someone else's water then I'm liable for the harm
            that causes.

            --Jason Auvenshine
          • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
            ... Which would indicate that rights are dependent upon power struggles. If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere misunderstanding.
            Message 5 of 24 , Dec 11 7:06 PM
              >
              >Part 1 of a topic split, will address the issues of corporations and
              >private property in a second message...
              >
              >Natural rights are of course a subset of the general concept of
              >rights. Thus I believe there are two aspects to the question of
              >natural rights: First, is the general concept of rights valid?
              >Second, if the general concept rights is valid, are natural rights a
              >valid subset of rights, being those whose definition is dictated by
              >nature?
              >
              >In regards to the concept of rights, you seem to be dubious of the
              >entire concept of rights because rights are violated with
              >regularity. This, I believe, misses the point. Rights are rules of
              >human conduct that, when observed, make human beings better off.
              >Rights can be astoundingly trivial in some cases, and in those cases
              >it's easier to discuss them because there's little emotional
              >attachment to the ideas involved. For example, in an intersection
              >with a traffic light, the cars in the direction of the green light
              >have the "right of way", and the cars in the direction of the red
              >light do not have the right of way. Though trivial and definitely
              >not a natural right, the term "right of way" is in fact quite
              >appropriate to this situation because when the right of way is
              >observed, human beings are better off than when it is not observed.
              >Does the "right of way" associated with a green light cease to be a
              >right (useful rule for improving human well-being) simply because
              >people run red lights with some regularity? I would say not. The
              >concept of right of way is useful in improving human well-being
              >regardless of the rate at which it is observed. The extent to which
              >it _actually_ improves human well-being is dependent upon the rate at
              >which it is observed. A right which is never observed would in fact
              >have zero actual benefit to human well-being. That fact, however,
              >invalidates neither the general concept of rights nor the specific
              >right which is not being observed.
              >
              >The other key aspect to understanding rights as rules of conduct is
              >the recognition that the existance and knowledge of such rules does
              >not, in itself, control human behavior. That depends upon the extent
              >to which an individual believes honoring the rule with respect to
              >others is beneficial to his/her own existance, which is in turn quite
              >often dependant upon the reaction of others in the society to a
              >violation of the rule.

              Which would indicate that "rights" are dependent upon power struggles.
              If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere
              misunderstanding. I have never disputed that generally speaking
              some forms of conduct are more useful than others (e.g. if we went
              around killing everyone who even slightly displeased us, society wouldn't
              work well). As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
              there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
              the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
              person through a red light). I would say that the same is true of
              killing people and that fighting imperialism is a goal worthy of the
              lives of some thousands of people in the WTC, most of whom were
              aiding and abetting imperialism. Certainly this means that we agree
              that there are no inalienable rights.

              >Once it is established that a given right will, if followed, improve
              >human well-being, the next important question is what do the rest of
              >us do when that right is alleged to have been violated? There seems
              >to be near universal recognition that some violations are worse than
              >others, and in fact some violations may be justified by a more
              >important right. Considering the trivial example of rights of way,
              >few would disagree that someone would be justified in running a red
              >light if there appeared to be no cars coming in the other direction
              >and he was attempting to transport a gravely injured passenger to the
              >hospital in time to stop him from bleeding to death. In the case of
              >all but the most trivial of alleged rights violations, it is
              >generally understood that a group of people (commonly called a jury)
              >must decide whether the violation actually occurred, and if it did
              >occur whether it was justified by some other, more important, right.
              >In some cases, the jury also decides the punishment and in other
              >cases it is a judge. The point is that rights do not cease to exist
              >because there may at times be a justification for violating them; a
              >system needs to be in place to evaluate and punish violations as
              >appropriate to the specific situation.
              >
              >Assuming that I have convinced you that the underlying concept of
              >rights is a valid one, we turn to the question of the existance of
              >natural rights. Obviously, the association of a "right of way" with
              >a green colored traffic light is entirely arbitrary. It might just
              >as well have been (and sometimes is) a "go" sign, a raised bar, or a
              >flag. Or we might have decided to make all of our intersections
              >continuous flow, wherein the right of way consisted solely in
              >traveling in the correct direction. Are all valid rights as
              >arbitrary as traffic signals? I don't think so.

              There are numerous examples of the use of different types of signal
              devices, and during the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese changed
              the traffic lights so that red meant go and green meant stop.
              (yellow presumedly still meant caution, as too much nationalism
              can be bad for the revolution :-)) Still, I think the conduct
              involved is not specifically "going against the light" but violating
              right of way, whatever standard had been decided. I would agree
              that generally speaking obeying the established right of way is
              useful conduct though there may be exceptions. The manner in
              which society dictates who has the right of way may be arbitrary,
              but the idea not to violate it is not. In this I don't see any
              real difference with the so-called right not to be killed except
              perhaps in degree (and, of course, not yielding right of way
              does occaionally cause death, so they are not entirely separate
              issues).

              >Human beings have two aspects to their nature which I believe bear
              >directly upon the right not to be killed. The first aspect is a
              >strong innate desire not to be killed, so strong in fact that most
              >human beings will inflict great destruction on others in order to
              >avoid it. The second aspect is that we are innately tribal, meaning
              >that we innately respond to an act against someone close to us
              >(family, sometimes close friends) as strongly and sometimes even
              >moreso than an attack on ourselves. These two aspects of human
              >nature arose from our evolutionary history and are not changeable at
              >least in the short term. When you combine them, what you get in
              >absence of a right not to be killed is escalation of violence. One
              >person decides to kill someone else, so that person and all his
              >family/friends retaliate against the attacker and all of his
              >family/friends. The conflict escalates until something external (a
              >lack of remaining combatants, physical distance, etc.) causes it to
              >cease. This is obviously very bad for human well-being. Most people
              >think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree to
              >settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
              >the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
              >benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".

              Then again, if there is no way to prevent wars, being anti-war would
              be an anti-materialist position. I might very well wish that no one
              could die before age 150, but it would be just as absurd.

              >I think the traditional "life, liberty, and property" is a good start
              >at a high level list of natural human rights. Discussing additional
              >specific natural rights is rather pointless, however, if you don't
              >recognize the concept of natural human rights as having any
              >validity. If you don't recognize a right of peaceful people not to
              >be killed, then you're certainly not going to recognize any other
              >rights.
              >
              >Finally, there absolutely could be, and probably are, natural rights
              >whose existance is yet unknown, though I suspect these would be more
              >like applications of old natural rights concepts to new technological
              >developments. A hypothetical example would involve cloning,
              >particularly of the currently science-fictional variety -- a "copy"
              >of one person with all of their memories and skills -- as opposed to
              >the currently real variety where a new organism is grown from a
              >single cell and shares only the DNA of the source. Would an exact
              >duplicate of one person have all the same rights as a separate
              >person? Or would the copy be "owned" by the source in some way? Or
              >something else? I would speculate that such questions may involve
              >the recognition of heretofore unconsidered rights.

              Or be the cause of hitherto unanticipated power struggles.

              >> In the end, that which
              >> cannot practically be achieved, however great its theoretical
              >benefits to
              >> humanity, cannot be a human right. To think it were would be anti-
              >> materialist. I would certainly apply that criterion to considering
              >the
              >> right of civilians to be unharmed in warfare, as the history of
              >warfare
              >> shows that this is unobtainable, even if it were desirable.
              >
              >Again, the question is not whether or not total respect for the
              >rights of civilians is obtainable, but whether or not we're better
              >off having the rule (recognizing the right) than not having the
              >rule. It is true that in every war civilians are harmed
              >(gee...another great reason to oppose war), but fewer civilians are
              >harmed than would otherwise be, because of the existance of a
              >recognized difference between civilians and combatants.
              >
              >--Jason Auvenshine

              A recognized difference between civilians and combatants does not reduce
              the number of civilians killed and has not in any war. The mere
              existence of war indicates that there is no greater "society" (power)
              capable or willing to stop it or impose rules on it. If civilians are
              spared in war, it is simply because it is not worthwhile to kill them
              and military strategy in that case indicates it is better to concentrate
              one's fire on soldiers. If, on the other hand, civilians get in the way
              (saturation bombing), or taking measures that will harm them allows the
              war effort to continue (confiscating crops from peasants to feed troops),
              or attacking them directly may aid the progress of the war (sieges and
              blockades), they invariably come to harm.

              There have been some public relations sham trials to try to persuade
              the public that those who have allegedly or in fact targetted civilians
              in time of war are punished, but these invariably involve the victor
              putting the vanquished on trial for having been the vanquished, and is
              simply a disguised form of power struggle and propaganda trick, not an
              enforcement of any "rights". Generally crimes which did not occur
              are invented, or crimes which did occur are grossly exaggerated (e.g.
              the Holocaust myth at Nuremberg and the "ethnic cleansing" myth at
              the Hague trials), and in other cases attack on civilians that were
              done by the vanquished are punished while the victors are never
              prosecuted for similar acts (Admiral Nimitz so testified at the defense
              of Admiral Donitz at Nuremburg, but Donitz got ten years anyway; Donitz
              was punished for ordering U-boats to sink civilian American and British
              shipping; Nimitz did the exact same thing to civilian Japanese shipping
              and got away with it). It would be a mistake to think that "war crimes"
              could ever be punished in an even-handed way and that any lesson could
              be learnt by such trials except to be sure not to be victorious or not
              to be taken alive.

              --Kevin
            • snail@aztec.asu.edu
              nice example jason. another good example is the internet which we are using. millions of people own it yet our messages get shipped free of charge all over the
              Message 6 of 24 , Dec 12 10:21 AM
                nice example jason.

                another good example is the internet
                which we are using.

                millions of people own it yet our messages
                get shipped free of charge all over the
                world with out us having to pay any
                stinking tolls.

                sure somebody pays for it. but those people
                work out agreements amoung them selfs
                to keep the systems working so it benifits
                all the people that use it.

                if the roads went from being publicly owned
                to being privately owned (the libertarian
                way, for kevins sake) i would hope it would
                end up working the same way the internet does.

                people would make the road systems work
                so it gives THEMSELFS the most benifit.
                some road would remain private and only
                the owners would use them. some roads
                though privately owned would be public
                roads because the owners would benifit
                when other people used them (ie the
                road to kmart and other shopping
                centers where they benifit if you use
                the road to go to their store and
                buy stuff). and of course some roads
                would probably be toll roads.

                its kinda of how parking lots work
                now. if you go to walmart in tempe
                they let you park for free cuz
                they want your business.

                if you use a parking lot in downtown
                phoenix or manhattan they wont let
                you use it for free and make you
                pay to park. probably because land
                is expensive in those areas.

                and if you try to park at the honeywell
                plant in phoenix they wont let your
                park there unless you work there.
                ie only honeywell people are allowed
                to use it.

                >Whenever the topic of private ownership arises, somebody always
                >brings up roads. :-) People think of having tollbooths every 50
                >feet, which is totally silly and would never happen. We already have
                >the technology and the business model to handle fully private roads
                >in a convenient and cost-effective manner: it's called the cellular
                >telephone. Do you have any idea how many different actual owners
                >there are for cell phone towers and other infrastructure in this
                >country? No, of course not, because you don't have to. There are
                >many owners, and they have internal agreements with each other so
                >that customers can "roam" from one system to another when necessary
                >without being bothered by the details. You pay a monthly fee for a
                >certain amount of use in your "home" area, and when you travel your
                >phone usually just works. Depending on the plan, you may or may not
                >pay an extra fee when you roam. If you talk a lot, you pay extra for
                >that too. But you don't have to come up with a quarter every minute,
                >you don't get 10 different cellular bills, and your costs are usually
                >pretty reasonable and commensurate with your use of the system. A
                >private transportation infrastructure could function similarly.

                --
                "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
                when the government fears the people, there is liberty "
                Thomas Jefferson
              • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                ... Actually the internet transmissions go through state- regulated monopolies (Cox, Qwest, etc.) The alternative would be needless duplication of lines or
                Message 7 of 24 , Dec 12 12:08 PM
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >nice example jason.
                  >
                  >another good example is the internet
                  >which we are using.
                  >
                  >millions of people own it yet our messages
                  >get shipped free of charge all over the
                  >world with out us having to pay any
                  >stinking tolls.

                  Actually the internet transmissions go through state-
                  regulated monopolies (Cox, Qwest, etc.) The
                  alternative would be needless duplication of lines
                  or allowing the utility to charge whatever it wanted.

                  >sure somebody pays for it. but those people
                  >work out agreements amoung them selfs
                  >to keep the systems working so it benifits
                  >all the people that use it.
                  >
                  >if the roads went from being publicly owned
                  >to being privately owned (the libertarian
                  >way, for kevins sake) i would hope it would
                  >end up working the same way the internet does.

                  Unlikely given how difficult it is to duplicate
                  a road.

                  >people would make the road systems work
                  >so it gives THEMSELFS the most benifit.
                  >some road would remain private and only
                  >the owners would use them. some roads
                  >though privately owned would be public
                  >roads because the owners would benifit
                  >when other people used them (ie the
                  >road to kmart and other shopping
                  >centers where they benifit if you use
                  >the road to go to their store and
                  >buy stuff). and of course some roads
                  >would probably be toll roads.

                  And which business would own Indian School between
                  28th Street and 32nd Street? And what would happen
                  to you if they wouldn't let you use it? Living on
                  a cul-de-sac, I'm in an even worse position than you :-)

                  >its kinda of how parking lots work
                  >now. if you go to walmart in tempe
                  >they let you park for free cuz
                  >they want your business.
                  >
                  >if you use a parking lot in downtown
                  >phoenix or manhattan they wont let
                  >you use it for free and make you
                  >pay to park. probably because land
                  >is expensive in those areas.
                  >
                  >and if you try to park at the honeywell
                  >plant in phoenix they wont let your
                  >park there unless you work there.
                  >ie only honeywell people are allowed
                  >to use it.

                  This results in the riddiculous, if tolerable
                  situation, in which one is obliged to move one's
                  car several times if one wishes to visit several
                  businesses in the same area. I'd much prefer if
                  parking lots were owned collectively.

                  --Kevin
                • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                  Well I guess Eric is bowing out of the private roads debate. --Kevin ================= Begin forwarded message ================= Dear Kevin, I won t go into
                  Message 8 of 24 , Dec 12 7:35 PM
                    Well I guess Eric is bowing out of the private roads debate.

                    --Kevin

                    ================= Begin forwarded message =================

                    Dear Kevin,

                    I won't go into details on the issue of private roads
                    and private ownership of rivers, lakes, ocean, etc.
                    This I must confess, to me, seems to be an interesting
                    excursion into Never-never land, will all due respects
                    to the Libertarians who do, at least, oppose the
                    aggression against Iraq, unlike the "realists" who
                    supervise our current system.

                    It brings to mind, however, the idea of tribal control
                    of resources within its own area. Under that
                    arrangement, if you cross the tribe's territory, you
                    pay them some toll or bribe or fee, in return for
                    which they allow you to cross their territory and
                    partake of the well-water, etc.

                    By the way, the tribal peoples of North Africa applied
                    the same system to the seas and ocean adjacent to
                    them. These people were dubbed by the 18th and 19th
                    century Americans "Barbary Pirates."

                    The North Africans simply expected any ship crossing
                    "their" swathe of sea space to pay for the privilege.
                    Most European states seem to have understood the
                    background for this and paid money to the respective
                    Sultans or whatever to allow the safe passage of their
                    shipping. The US, however, under its first presidents
                    seem to have deliberately misunderstood this,
                    regarding "free trade" on the sea as sacred and
                    refusing to pay "tribute."

                    Several American ships were taken into custody, and
                    their crews enslaved (they could have been killed for
                    such a violation) and the US went to war.

                    The US won, of course, and I suppose Europe thanked
                    America for saving them from having to pay tolls.
                    Pretty soon it was a moot point, however, since the
                    French invaded and conquered Algeria in the 1830s and
                    spread out from there to control most of Morocco and
                    all of Tunisia within a few decades.

                    I don't believe that any of America's presidents had
                    any complaints about that arrangement. It wasn't
                    "piracy," I suppose -- that's when you raid ships and
                    it is abhorrent to all "civilized nations" of course
                    to do that.

                    But colonialism was the subjugation and exploitation
                    of whole peoples in a systematic way -- and therefore
                    quite acceptable in respectable circles.

                    I mention all this simply because we have a way of
                    looking at groups or individuals and their practices
                    through "our own" criteria, and conceiving of rights
                    in ways that are familiar, agreeable, and profitable
                    to "us."

                    The North Africans (and actually the little tribal
                    groups that oversaw shipping in the Arabian Gulf too,
                    until Britain defeated them all) were considered
                    "pirates"; the Americans and Europeans who invaded and
                    colonized however, were on some kind of civilizing
                    mission. And the history books still haven't been
                    substantially rewritten. The Marines still sing about
                    the "shores of Tripoli" in commemoration of their war
                    on North African tribal leaders and blowing open the
                    door for French colonialism.

                    Similarly today, rebels of the kind who attacked the
                    world trade centre are "terrorists" who must be rooted
                    out everywhere, while the US military who camp out in
                    other countries and topple governments, not just
                    buildings, are "respectable."

                    I know, Jason also would condemn the "respectable" US
                    military people, but the folks who are actually ready
                    to take on the US empire are the so-called terrorists.

                    Comradely,

                    Eric
                  • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                    ... is ... does ... extent ... quite ... struggles. No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power struggles. Rights themselves are not. ...
                    Message 9 of 24 , Dec 13 6:48 PM
                      --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                      > >The other key aspect to understanding rights as rules of conduct
                      is
                      > >the recognition that the existance and knowledge of such rules
                      does
                      > >not, in itself, control human behavior. That depends upon the
                      extent
                      > >to which an individual believes honoring the rule with respect to
                      > >others is beneficial to his/her own existance, which is in turn
                      quite
                      > >often dependant upon the reaction of others in the society to a
                      > >violation of the rule.
                      >
                      > Which would indicate that "rights" are dependent upon power
                      struggles.

                      No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                      struggles. Rights themselves are not.

                      > If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere
                      > misunderstanding. I have never disputed that generally speaking
                      > some forms of conduct are more useful than others (e.g. if we went
                      > around killing everyone who even slightly displeased us, society
                      wouldn't
                      > work well).

                      This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                      power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                      obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do. Note that
                      my position is _not_ the antithesis of your quote, "There are no
                      power struggles, only rights", which would have the equally absurd
                      implication that rights are always honored regardless of who is in
                      power or what they do. Rights exist because of man's nature
                      specifically and characteristics of the physical universe more
                      generally. It is quite often a power struggle to enforce those
                      rights.

                      > As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                      > there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                      > the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                      > person through a red light).

                      Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-existance
                      of that right.

                      > I would say that the same is true of
                      > killing people and that fighting imperialism is a goal worthy of the
                      > lives of some thousands of people in the WTC, most of whom were
                      > aiding and abetting imperialism.

                      I would strongly disagree, one of the primary reasons being that you
                      and I define imperialism quite differently, and as a result define
                      the group who are "aiding and abetting imperialism" differently.

                      > Certainly this means that we agree
                      > that there are no inalienable rights.

                      I don't see how that follows. Though included in the famous line
                      from the Declaration of Independance, I think the attribute of
                      inalienability is rather tangential to the concept and application of
                      rights, at least in the modern world. "Inalienable" simply means
                      that such rights are not transferrable. For example, if you're a
                      condemned murderer, I can't give or sell you my right not to be
                      killed and die in your place so that you can go free (gee, where have
                      we heard that kind of nonsense before? :-). Non-transferrability is
                      entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of human
                      conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies that
                      all rights must be transferrable.

                      > I would agree
                      > that generally speaking obeying the established right of way is
                      > useful conduct though there may be exceptions. The manner in
                      > which society dictates who has the right of way may be arbitrary,
                      > but the idea not to violate it is not. In this I don't see any
                      > real difference with the so-called right not to be killed except
                      > perhaps in degree (and, of course, not yielding right of way
                      > does occaionally cause death, so they are not entirely separate
                      > issues).

                      You are correct in that the concept "right of way" arises from the
                      nature of the physical world; two cars cannot occupy the same space
                      at the same time, and if they attempt to do so great harm will
                      result. What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                      circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                      don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                      have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                      difference between the two.

                      > >Most people
                      > >think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree
                      to
                      > >settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
                      > >the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
                      > >benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".
                      >
                      > Then again, if there is no way to prevent wars, being anti-war would
                      > be an anti-materialist position. I might very well wish that no one
                      > could die before age 150, but it would be just as absurd.

                      Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                      impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                      mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                      argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war means
                      that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                      discourage others from engaging in it.

                      > >Would an exact
                      > >duplicate of one person have all the same rights as a separate
                      > >person? Or would the copy be "owned" by the source in some way?
                      Or
                      > >something else? I would speculate that such questions may involve
                      > >the recognition of heretofore unconsidered rights.
                      >
                      > Or be the cause of hitherto unanticipated power struggles.

                      I agree.

                      > A recognized difference between civilians and combatants does not
                      reduce
                      > the number of civilians killed and has not in any war. The mere
                      > existence of war indicates that there is no greater "society"
                      (power)
                      > capable or willing to stop it or impose rules on it. If civilians
                      are
                      > spared in war, it is simply because it is not worthwhile to kill
                      them
                      > and military strategy in that case indicates it is better to
                      concentrate
                      > one's fire on soldiers. If, on the other hand, civilians get in
                      the way
                      > (saturation bombing), or taking measures that will harm them allows
                      the
                      > war effort to continue (confiscating crops from peasants to feed
                      troops),
                      > or attacking them directly may aid the progress of the war (sieges
                      and
                      > blockades), they invariably come to harm.

                      Civilians are indeed harmed in every war, but I find it hard to
                      believe that no military commander has ever altered his strategy for
                      the sake of saving the lives of civilians. I fear that further
                      argument on this subtopic would be akin to an argument about how many
                      angels can dance on the head of a pin. Even if decisions _not to_
                      target civilians are always made for strategic military
                      considerations, it still doesn't imply that a decision _to_ target
                      civilians is properly characterized as "heroic", which was my beef in
                      starting this whole thread.

                      > There have been some public relations sham trials to try to persuade
                      > the public that those who have allegedly or in fact targetted
                      civilians
                      > in time of war are punished, but these invariably involve the victor
                      > putting the vanquished on trial for having been the vanquished, and
                      is
                      > simply a disguised form of power struggle and propaganda trick, not
                      an
                      > enforcement of any "rights".
                      <SNIP of more information concerning war crimes>

                      I agree. The trial of war crimes has been largely a sham.

                      --Jason Auvenshine
                    • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                      ... If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights. ... It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles determine the norms of
                      Message 10 of 24 , Dec 13 7:39 PM
                        >No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                        >struggles. Rights themselves are not.

                        If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights.

                        >> If this is the case, perhaps the entire discussion has been mere
                        >> misunderstanding. I have never disputed that generally speaking
                        >> some forms of conduct are more useful than others (e.g. if we went
                        >> around killing everyone who even slightly displeased us, society
                        >wouldn't
                        >> work well).
                        >
                        >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                        >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                        >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.

                        It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                        determine the norms of human interaction.

                        >Note that
                        >my position is _not_ the antithesis of your quote, "There are no
                        >power struggles, only rights", which would have the equally absurd
                        >implication that rights are always honored regardless of who is in
                        >power or what they do. Rights exist because of man's nature
                        >specifically and characteristics of the physical universe more
                        >generally. It is quite often a power struggle to enforce those
                        >rights.

                        Since power struggles are part of the physical universe, it would be
                        foolish to separate the two.

                        >> As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                        >> there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                        >> the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                        >> person through a red light).
                        >
                        >Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-existance
                        >of that right.

                        If you believe a violation would be justified, as evidently you do,
                        then it is not a right. It is simply a rule that works well MOST
                        OF THE TIME.

                        >> I would say that the same is true of
                        >> killing people and that fighting imperialism is a goal worthy of the
                        >> lives of some thousands of people in the WTC, most of whom were
                        >> aiding and abetting imperialism.
                        >
                        >I would strongly disagree, one of the primary reasons being that you
                        >and I define imperialism quite differently, and as a result define
                        >the group who are "aiding and abetting imperialism" differently.
                        >
                        >> Certainly this means that we agree
                        >> that there are no inalienable rights.
                        >
                        >I don't see how that follows. Though included in the famous line
                        >from the Declaration of Independance, I think the attribute of
                        >inalienability is rather tangential to the concept and application of
                        >rights, at least in the modern world. "Inalienable" simply means
                        >that such rights are not transferrable. For example, if you're a
                        >condemned murderer, I can't give or sell you my right not to be
                        >killed and die in your place so that you can go free (gee, where have
                        >we heard that kind of nonsense before? :-).

                        Christianity? :-)

                        >Non-transferrability is
                        >entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of human
                        >conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies that
                        >all rights must be transferrable.

                        Inalienable does mean that, but it also means that they can't be taken
                        away. Does the person who is condemned to death have the right to life?
                        Maybe you would think so if you are against capital punishment.

                        >> I would agree
                        >> that generally speaking obeying the established right of way is
                        >> useful conduct though there may be exceptions. The manner in
                        >> which society dictates who has the right of way may be arbitrary,
                        >> but the idea not to violate it is not. In this I don't see any
                        >> real difference with the so-called right not to be killed except
                        >> perhaps in degree (and, of course, not yielding right of way
                        >> does occaionally cause death, so they are not entirely separate
                        >> issues).
                        >
                        >You are correct in that the concept "right of way" arises from the
                        >nature of the physical world; two cars cannot occupy the same space
                        >at the same time, and if they attempt to do so great harm will
                        >result. What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                        >circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                        >don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                        >have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                        >difference between the two.

                        I would not say there is a difference between the two. Generally
                        speaking killing others is not good for society, but there are times
                        when it is.

                        >> >Most people
                        >> >think of war as a valid exception -- two groups essentially agree
                        >to
                        >> >settle a difference by trying to kill each other until one side or
                        >> >the other gives up. It does not seem to me that this exception
                        >> >benefits human well-being, hence I am "anti-war".
                        >>
                        >> Then again, if there is no way to prevent wars, being anti-war would
                        >> be an anti-materialist position. I might very well wish that no one
                        >> could die before age 150, but it would be just as absurd.
                        >
                        >Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                        >impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                        >mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                        >argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war means
                        >that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                        >discourage others from engaging in it.

                        Within a society there are practical means to discourage rape, so it
                        is materialist to be anti-rape, as one can mitigate it even if it is
                        not possible to eliminate it. Do I say then that we cannot possibly
                        reduce the number of wars? We can, but ironically the only way to do
                        that is to fight the class war to overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisie.
                        As Mao Zedong said, "To put down the gun, we must first pick it up."
                        I don't see resisting war, no matter what kind of a war it is and
                        no matter who wants to fight it, as a practical way of mitigating war.
                        If someone in the imperialist countries wants to do that, that person
                        is my ally, because it will hinder the war effort by the imperialists.
                        Nonetheless I would not take that position with those who would hinder
                        the war effort by those who seek to overthrow imperialism.

                        >Civilians are indeed harmed in every war, but I find it hard to
                        >believe that no military commander has ever altered his strategy for
                        >the sake of saving the lives of civilians. I fear that further
                        >argument on this subtopic would be akin to an argument about how many
                        >angels can dance on the head of a pin. Even if decisions _not to_
                        >target civilians are always made for strategic military
                        >considerations, it still doesn't imply that a decision _to_ target
                        >civilians is properly characterized as "heroic", which was my beef in
                        >starting this whole thread.

                        If there have been military commanders who put the welfare of civilians
                        over military considerations, I don't know about them, and there can't
                        have been all that many. Since "civilians" often help the war effort,
                        attacks on them can make a difference in the outcome of a war. Those 19
                        people gave their lives to try to stop a system, which by its own admission,
                        has already killed nearly to million Iraqis and thousands of Palestineans.
                        Their sacrifice was greater than that of the ordinary soldier in the
                        battlefield. That soldier knows he MAY NOT survive. Those 19 people
                        knew they WOULD NOT survive, and they carried out their mission anyway.
                        That to me is heroism. Then again, whether you think so may depend
                        on which side you take.

                        --Kevin

                        >I agree. The trial of war crimes has been largely a sham.
                        >
                        >--Jason Auvenshine
                      • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                        ... We seem to be going in circles. A right exists whether it s enforced/observed or not. Using the right of way example, consider the situation where
                        Message 11 of 24 , Dec 14 3:24 PM
                          --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                          > >No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                          > >struggles. Rights themselves are not.
                          >
                          > If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights.

                          We seem to be going in circles. A right exists whether it's
                          enforced/observed or not. Using the right of way example, consider
                          the situation where there's no enforcement at a particular traffic
                          light (ie no police around). This does not mean that no right of way
                          exists. If you violate the right of way, the chance of getting in an
                          accident is higher than if you do not violate it. In that sense,
                          nature enforces its own consequences for the violation of rights.

                          > >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                          > >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                          > >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                          >
                          > It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                          > determine the norms of human interaction.

                          Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there is
                          no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of whoever
                          is in power.

                          > >> As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                          > >> there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                          > >> the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                          > >> person through a red light).
                          > >
                          > >Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-
                          existance
                          > >of that right.
                          >
                          > If you believe a violation would be justified, as evidently you do,
                          > then it is not a right. It is simply a rule that works well MOST
                          > OF THE TIME.

                          You seem to persist in the thinking that for something to be a right
                          it must never be violated. A right is simply a rule we are better
                          off with than without. Of course there are going to be times when
                          people violate rights...and sometimes those violations are acceptable
                          because more important rights are involved.

                          > >Non-transferrability is
                          > >entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of
                          human
                          > >conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies
                          that
                          > >all rights must be transferrable.
                          >
                          > Inalienable does mean that, but it also means that they can't be
                          taken
                          > away. Does the person who is condemned to death have the right to
                          life?
                          > Maybe you would think so if you are against capital punishment.

                          This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                          right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who thinks
                          there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                          right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by one
                          who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                          right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.

                          > >What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                          > >circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                          > >don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                          > >have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                          > >difference between the two.
                          >
                          > I would not say there is a difference between the two. Generally
                          > speaking killing others is not good for society, but there are times
                          > when it is.

                          And I would argue that those times are determined by the nature of
                          man and the physical universe, not by the whims of whoever is in
                          power.

                          > >Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                          > >impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                          > >mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                          > >argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war
                          means
                          > >that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                          > >discourage others from engaging in it.
                          >
                          > Within a society there are practical means to discourage rape, so it
                          > is materialist to be anti-rape, as one can mitigate it even if it is
                          > not possible to eliminate it. Do I say then that we cannot possibly
                          > reduce the number of wars? We can, but ironically the only way to
                          do
                          > that is to fight the class war to overthrow the imperialist
                          bourgeoisie.

                          Well, then I'd say we agree that it is materialist to be anti-
                          war...we just disagree on the means to achieve it.

                          > As Mao Zedong said, "To put down the gun, we must first pick it up."
                          > I don't see resisting war, no matter what kind of a war it is and
                          > no matter who wants to fight it, as a practical way of mitigating
                          war.
                          > If someone in the imperialist countries wants to do that, that
                          person
                          > is my ally, because it will hinder the war effort by the
                          imperialists.
                          > Nonetheless I would not take that position with those who would
                          hinder
                          > the war effort by those who seek to overthrow imperialism.

                          Now perhaps you see why I don't consider us allies. You simply want
                          different people to control the U.S. government and the world by
                          force of arms -- a "Pax Communista" instead of a "Pax Americana".
                          Our goals bear about as much resemblence as a broken clock does to
                          the time: Sure, they're in sync twice a day...but that fact is of
                          little use.

                          --Jason Auvenshine
                        • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                          ... They you would be saying there is enforcement. ... No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using the word rights in a manner
                          Message 12 of 24 , Dec 14 5:36 PM
                            >
                            >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                            >> >No...ENFORCEMENT of rights are very often dependent upon power
                            >> >struggles. Rights themselves are not.
                            >>
                            >> If there is no enforcement of rights, there are no rights.
                            >
                            >We seem to be going in circles. A right exists whether it's
                            >enforced/observed or not. Using the right of way example, consider
                            >the situation where there's no enforcement at a particular traffic
                            >light (ie no police around). This does not mean that no right of way
                            >exists. If you violate the right of way, the chance of getting in an
                            >accident is higher than if you do not violate it. In that sense,
                            >nature enforces its own consequences for the violation of rights.

                            They you would be saying there is enforcement.

                            >> >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights, only
                            >> >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that whoever
                            >> >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                            >>
                            >> It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                            >> determine the norms of human interaction.
                            >
                            >Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there is
                            >no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of whoever
                            >is in power.

                            No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using
                            the word "rights" in a manner inconsistent with the common usage in
                            the language, and that only confuses people.

                            >> >> As indicated below, you [Jason] evidently believe that
                            >> >> there are some circumstances in which a greater good can justify
                            >> >> the violation of a right (e.g. the transport of a gravely injured
                            >> >> person through a red light).
                            >> >
                            >> >Yes...just don't confuse violation of a right with the non-
                            >existance
                            >> >of that right.
                            >>
                            >> If you believe a violation would be justified, as evidently you do,
                            >> then it is not a right. It is simply a rule that works well MOST
                            >> OF THE TIME.
                            >
                            >You seem to persist in the thinking that for something to be a right
                            >it must never be violated. A right is simply a rule we are better
                            >off with than without. Of course there are going to be times when
                            >people violate rights...and sometimes those violations are acceptable
                            >because more important rights are involved.

                            None of the rules you have proposed is always valid. Therefore I
                            contend there are no rights. Sometimes the violation of a right
                            of way is justified by a higher good. Thus so is the killing of a
                            human being often justified by a higher good.

                            It is different to say "Every human being has the right to life."
                            and "Generally speaking killing human beings is a bad thing, but
                            there are times when it is to the greater good of other human beings
                            that it be done."

                            >> >Non-transferrability is
                            >> >entirely consistent with the conception of rights as rules of
                            >human
                            >> >conduct. I don't see how any of what we have discussed implies
                            >that
                            >> >all rights must be transferrable.
                            >>
                            >> Inalienable does mean that, but it also means that they can't be
                            >taken
                            >> away. Does the person who is condemned to death have the right to
                            >life?
                            >> Maybe you would think so if you are against capital punishment.
                            >
                            >This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                            >right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who thinks
                            >there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                            >right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by one
                            >who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                            >right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.

                            That being the case those who have knowingly profited from acts which
                            have killed large numbers of human beings and have done nothing to
                            stop it, rather actually encouraged it, would forfeit their "right
                            to life". I contend that is the case with most of those in the WTC.

                            >> >What is arbitrary about "right of way" is under what
                            >> >circumstances you have the right of way and what circumstances you
                            >> >don't have it. I would argue that it is _not_ arbitrary when you
                            >> >have a right not to be killed, and when you don't. That is the
                            >> >difference between the two.
                            >>
                            >> I would not say there is a difference between the two. Generally
                            >> speaking killing others is not good for society, but there are times
                            >> when it is.
                            >
                            >And I would argue that those times are determined by the nature of
                            >man and the physical universe, not by the whims of whoever is in
                            >power.

                            There I would agree.

                            >> >Thousands of rapes happen every year. I believe that it is
                            >> >impossible to totally prevent rape from ever occurring. Does that
                            >> >mean that it is an anti-materialist position to be "anti-rape"? I
                            >> >argue that it does not. Like being anti-rape, being anti-war
                            >means
                            >> >that I don't personally engage in it, and that I attempt to
                            >> >discourage others from engaging in it.
                            >>
                            >> Within a society there are practical means to discourage rape, so it
                            >> is materialist to be anti-rape, as one can mitigate it even if it is
                            >> not possible to eliminate it. Do I say then that we cannot possibly
                            >> reduce the number of wars? We can, but ironically the only way to
                            >do
                            >> that is to fight the class war to overthrow the imperialist
                            >bourgeoisie.
                            >
                            >Well, then I'd say we agree that it is materialist to be anti-
                            >war...we just disagree on the means to achieve it.
                            >
                            >> As Mao Zedong said, "To put down the gun, we must first pick it up."
                            >> I don't see resisting war, no matter what kind of a war it is and
                            >> no matter who wants to fight it, as a practical way of mitigating
                            >war.
                            >> If someone in the imperialist countries wants to do that, that
                            >person
                            >> is my ally, because it will hinder the war effort by the
                            >imperialists.
                            >> Nonetheless I would not take that position with those who would
                            >hinder
                            >> the war effort by those who seek to overthrow imperialism.
                            >
                            >Now perhaps you see why I don't consider us allies. You simply want
                            >different people to control the U.S. government and the world by
                            >force of arms -- a "Pax Communista" instead of a "Pax Americana".
                            >Our goals bear about as much resemblence as a broken clock does to
                            >the time: Sure, they're in sync twice a day...but that fact is of
                            >little use.
                            >
                            >--Jason Auvenshine

                            Our long-term goals are very different, but our immediate goal is
                            the same--to hinder the American effort to make war. That makes us
                            allies, however temporary the alliance. It is of great use now,
                            and for as long as American aggression lasts.

                            --Kevin
                          • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                            ... only ... whoever ... is ... whoever ... From www.dictionary.com, the definition of right in the context we are discussing is: 2. That to which one has a
                            Message 13 of 24 , Dec 15 4:30 PM
                              --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                              > >> >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights,
                              only
                              > >> >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that
                              whoever
                              > >> >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                              > >>
                              > >> It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                              > >> determine the norms of human interaction.
                              > >
                              > >Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there
                              is
                              > >no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of
                              whoever
                              > >is in power.
                              >
                              > No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using
                              > the word "rights" in a manner inconsistent with the common usage in
                              > the language, and that only confuses people.

                              From www.dictionary.com, the definition of right in the context we
                              are discussing is:

                              2. That to which one has a just claim. Specifically:
                              (a) That which one has a natural claim to exact. There are no
                              rights whatever, without corresponding duties. --Coleridge.
                              (b) That which one has a legal or social claim to do or to exact;
                              legal power; authority; as, a sheriff has a right to arrest a
                              criminal.
                              (c) That which justly belongs to one; that which one has a claim to
                              possess or own; the interest or share which anyone has in a piece of
                              property; title; claim; interest; ownership. Born free, he sought his
                              right. --Dryden. Hast thou not right to all created things? --
                              Milton. Men have no right to what is not reasonable. --Burke.
                              (d) Privilege or immunity granted by authority.

                              While I have some problems with this definition, and I'm sure you do
                              too...it is clear that if you say "There are no rights..." you are
                              saying that there is nothing to which a human being has just claim.

                              > None of the rules you have proposed is always valid. Therefore I
                              > contend there are no rights. Sometimes the violation of a right
                              > of way is justified by a higher good. Thus so is the killing of a
                              > human being often justified by a higher good.
                              >
                              > It is different to say "Every human being has the right to life."
                              > and "Generally speaking killing human beings is a bad thing, but
                              > there are times when it is to the greater good of other human beings
                              > that it be done."

                              To some extent the confusion is perhaps due to some sloppiness on my
                              part. Let me try to clear things up in regards to the "right not to
                              be killed." At times, I may have referred to this in a more lengthy
                              and complete form, "the right of peaceful people not to be killed."

                              If an individual initiates an unprovoked attack against me with a
                              deadly weapon (say, a mugger with a gun) and I kill him in what would
                              commonly be termed self defense, have I violated the mugger's right
                              not to be killed? No. The mugger forfeited his right not to be
                              killed by engaging in an act of deadly aggression against another.
                              He no longer qualifies as "peaceful".

                              Now, suppose I use a gun in defending myself against the mugger and
                              one of the bullets I fire at the mugger hits him, exits his body and
                              strikes and kills a woman standing behind the mugger. Have I
                              violated the woman's right not to be killed? YES. Is my action
                              resulting in her death likely to be considered justified? I'm no
                              lawyer, but my understanding is that it would be considered justified
                              in the sense that it was the consequence of a criminal act by the
                              mugger, not by me. In other words, the mugger is responsible for
                              putting me in the situation of having to kill him to protect my own
                              life, and he is therefore at fault for my bullet unintentionally
                              striking the woman even though he didn't personally fire it.

                              The point of this little thought exercise is the following:
                              Sometimes, an individual takes actions which forfeit his/her right
                              not to be killed, at which point killing that person does not
                              constitute violating the right. Also, unintentionally violating the
                              right not to be killed may also be justified in certain situations.
                              However, neither of those facts implies that intentionally targeting
                              peaceful individuals for death is ever justified.

                              > >This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                              > >right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who
                              thinks
                              > >there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                              > >right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by
                              one
                              > >who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                              > >right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.
                              >
                              > That being the case those who have knowingly profited from acts
                              which
                              > have killed large numbers of human beings and have done nothing to
                              > stop it, rather actually encouraged it, would forfeit their "right
                              > to life". I contend that is the case with most of those in the WTC.

                              Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance and
                              validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                              disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                              forfeit that right.

                              --Jason Auvenshine
                            • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                              ... Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken away by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can be ruled
                              Message 14 of 24 , Dec 15 5:03 PM
                                >
                                >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                >> >> >This discussion started with the quote, "There are no rights,
                                >only
                                >> >> >power struggles" which strongly implies otherwise, ie that
                                >whoever
                                >> >> >obtains power is, definitionally, "right" in what they do.
                                >> >>
                                >> >> It implies no such thing. It simply implies that power struggles
                                >> >> determine the norms of human interaction.
                                >> >
                                >> >Sorry, but to me the phrase "there are no rights..." means there
                                >is
                                >> >no right way to treat another human being, only the whim of
                                >whoever
                                >> >is in power.
                                >>
                                >> No, that implies no such thing. If you insist it does you are using
                                >> the word "rights" in a manner inconsistent with the common usage in
                                >> the language, and that only confuses people.
                                >
                                >From www.dictionary.com, the definition of right in the context we
                                >are discussing is:
                                >
                                >2. That to which one has a just claim. Specifically:
                                > (a) That which one has a natural claim to exact. There are no
                                >rights whatever, without corresponding duties. --Coleridge.
                                > (b) That which one has a legal or social claim to do or to exact;
                                >legal power; authority; as, a sheriff has a right to arrest a
                                >criminal.
                                > (c) That which justly belongs to one; that which one has a claim to
                                >possess or own; the interest or share which anyone has in a piece of
                                >property; title; claim; interest; ownership. Born free, he sought his
                                >right. --Dryden. Hast thou not right to all created things? --
                                >Milton. Men have no right to what is not reasonable. --Burke.
                                > (d) Privilege or immunity granted by authority.
                                >
                                >While I have some problems with this definition, and I'm sure you do
                                >too...it is clear that if you say "There are no rights..." you are
                                >saying that there is nothing to which a human being has just claim.

                                Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken away
                                by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can
                                be ruled otherwise. I'm sure that's what Mao Zedong meant when he
                                said, "There are no rights, only power struggles."

                                >> None of the rules you have proposed is always valid. Therefore I
                                >> contend there are no rights. Sometimes the violation of a right
                                >> of way is justified by a higher good. Thus so is the killing of a
                                >> human being often justified by a higher good.
                                >>
                                >> It is different to say "Every human being has the right to life."
                                >> and "Generally speaking killing human beings is a bad thing, but
                                >> there are times when it is to the greater good of other human beings
                                >> that it be done."
                                >
                                >To some extent the confusion is perhaps due to some sloppiness on my
                                >part. Let me try to clear things up in regards to the "right not to
                                >be killed." At times, I may have referred to this in a more lengthy
                                >and complete form, "the right of peaceful people not to be killed."
                                >
                                >If an individual initiates an unprovoked attack against me with a
                                >deadly weapon (say, a mugger with a gun) and I kill him in what would
                                >commonly be termed self defense, have I violated the mugger's right
                                >not to be killed? No. The mugger forfeited his right not to be
                                >killed by engaging in an act of deadly aggression against another.
                                >He no longer qualifies as "peaceful".
                                >
                                >Now, suppose I use a gun in defending myself against the mugger and
                                >one of the bullets I fire at the mugger hits him, exits his body and
                                >strikes and kills a woman standing behind the mugger. Have I
                                >violated the woman's right not to be killed? YES. Is my action
                                >resulting in her death likely to be considered justified? I'm no
                                >lawyer, but my understanding is that it would be considered justified
                                >in the sense that it was the consequence of a criminal act by the
                                >mugger, not by me. In other words, the mugger is responsible for
                                >putting me in the situation of having to kill him to protect my own
                                >life, and he is therefore at fault for my bullet unintentionally
                                >striking the woman even though he didn't personally fire it.

                                This is the concept of collateral damage.

                                >The point of this little thought exercise is the following:
                                >Sometimes, an individual takes actions which forfeit his/her right
                                >not to be killed, at which point killing that person does not
                                >constitute violating the right. Also, unintentionally violating the
                                >right not to be killed may also be justified in certain situations.
                                >However, neither of those facts implies that intentionally targeting
                                >peaceful individuals for death is ever justified.

                                No, it does not imply that, but I would nonetheless contend that there
                                are times when it is for the greater good of humanity to intentionally
                                target peaceful individuals for death. If, however pure the intentions
                                of these people, their actions or existence aids a great threat to
                                humanity, I would say it is better to kill them than leave them be.

                                >> >This gets a little more into the attributes of the specifc natural
                                >> >right not to be killed than is apt to be useful to someone who
                                >thinks
                                >> >there is no such thing. I would argue that the attributes of the
                                >> >right not to be killed are such that the right can be forfeit by
                                >one
                                >> >who is engaged in the conscious act/attempt of violating another's
                                >> >right not to be killed, or has previously violated the same.
                                >>
                                >> That being the case those who have knowingly profited from acts
                                >which
                                >> have killed large numbers of human beings and have done nothing to
                                >> stop it, rather actually encouraged it, would forfeit their "right
                                >> to life". I contend that is the case with most of those in the WTC.
                                >
                                >Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance and
                                >validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                                >disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                                >forfeit that right.
                                >
                                >--Jason Auvenshine

                                That is one of our disagreements, but not the only one. I would say
                                that a person with good intentions who objectively is harmful to humanity
                                should be killed.

                                --Kevin
                              • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                ... away ... So you are claiming that Mao was only talking about government granted rights when he stated There are no rights... ? That seems unlikely, given
                                Message 15 of 24 , Dec 17 1:30 PM
                                  --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                  > Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken
                                  away
                                  > by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can
                                  > be ruled otherwise. I'm sure that's what Mao Zedong meant when he
                                  > said, "There are no rights, only power struggles."

                                  So you are claiming that Mao was only talking about government
                                  granted rights when he stated "There are no rights..."? That seems
                                  unlikely, given the common objection to Communism that it infringes
                                  on natural rights. It seems to me more likely that Mao was saying
                                  that there are no rights (including natural rights) other than those
                                  granted as a result of a power struggle (by government). This is the
                                  position I have been attacking as unreasonable.

                                  Certainly I'd agree that government doesn't do anything without a
                                  power struggle, including granting rights. All I have been saying is
                                  that there are certain rights that arise from man's nature and
                                  physical reality -- rights that greatly affect human well-being and
                                  preceed and exist independant of whether or not a particular
                                  government grants/recognizes/enforces them.

                                  > No, it does not imply that, but I would nonetheless contend that
                                  there
                                  > are times when it is for the greater good of humanity to
                                  intentionally
                                  > target peaceful individuals for death. If, however pure the
                                  intentions
                                  > of these people, their actions or existence aids a great threat to
                                  > humanity, I would say it is better to kill them than leave them be.

                                  What if one considers, as I do, the killing of peaceful individuals
                                  to itself be one of the greatest threats facing humanity?

                                  > >Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance
                                  and
                                  > >validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                                  > >disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                                  > >forfeit that right.
                                  >
                                  > That is one of our disagreements, but not the only one. I would say
                                  > that a person with good intentions who objectively is harmful to
                                  humanity
                                  > should be killed.

                                  I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is objectively
                                  harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the rights
                                  of others.

                                  --Jason Auvenshine
                                • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                  ... The mere fact that it is a common objection does not mean it is a truthful objection. ... The context of the essay in which Mao said this is that we must
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Dec 17 9:00 PM
                                    >
                                    >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                    >> Only that privilege or immunity granted by authority can be taken
                                    >away
                                    >> by that authority and that what is perceived to be a legal claim can
                                    >> be ruled otherwise. I'm sure that's what Mao Zedong meant when he
                                    >> said, "There are no rights, only power struggles."
                                    >
                                    >So you are claiming that Mao was only talking about government
                                    >granted rights when he stated "There are no rights..."? That seems
                                    >unlikely, given the common objection to Communism that it infringes
                                    >on natural rights.

                                    The mere fact that it is a common objection does not mean it is a
                                    truthful objection.

                                    >It seems to me more likely that Mao was saying
                                    >that there are no rights (including natural rights) other than those
                                    >granted as a result of a power struggle (by government). This is the
                                    >position I have been attacking as unreasonable.

                                    The context of the essay in which Mao said this is that we must
                                    struggle for any gains we hope to have in our condition and cannot
                                    expect governments to recoginze our having rights (natural, legal,
                                    or otherwise).

                                    >Certainly I'd agree that government doesn't do anything without a
                                    >power struggle, including granting rights. All I have been saying is
                                    >that there are certain rights that arise from man's nature and
                                    >physical reality -- rights that greatly affect human well-being and
                                    >preceed and exist independant of whether or not a particular
                                    >government grants/recognizes/enforces them.
                                    >
                                    >> No, it does not imply that, but I would nonetheless contend that
                                    >there
                                    >> are times when it is for the greater good of humanity to
                                    >intentionally
                                    >> target peaceful individuals for death. If, however pure the
                                    >intentions
                                    >> of these people, their actions or existence aids a great threat to
                                    >> humanity, I would say it is better to kill them than leave them be.
                                    >
                                    >What if one considers, as I do, the killing of peaceful individuals
                                    >to itself be one of the greatest threats facing humanity?
                                    >
                                    >> >Then I think our difference of opinion is not about the existance
                                    >and
                                    >> >validity of a right not to be killed/"right to life", rather our
                                    >> >disagreement concerns the conditions under which an individual has
                                    >> >forfeit that right.
                                    >>
                                    >> That is one of our disagreements, but not the only one. I would say
                                    >> that a person with good intentions who objectively is harmful to
                                    >humanity
                                    >> should be killed.
                                    >
                                    >I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is objectively
                                    >harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the rights
                                    >of others.
                                    >
                                    >--Jason Auvenshine

                                    That is a tautology, as you believe that by harming humanity, that person
                                    infringes on rights. I would conclude, that one may not intentionally
                                    infringe on rights to be a menace. The Jewish children blown up in
                                    the martyrdoms in Tel-Aviv are doubtless without malice. Nonetheless they
                                    are future generations who will serve as soldiers of Zionism, and killing
                                    them while young is as valid as killing them while old.

                                    --Kevin
                                  • auvenj <auvenj@mailcity.com>
                                    ... objectively ... rights ... person ... intentionally ... Nonetheless they ... killing ... You are correct, it is a tautology as stated. What I left out was
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Dec 20 10:42 PM
                                      --- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                      > >I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is
                                      objectively
                                      > >harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the
                                      rights
                                      > >of others.
                                      > >
                                      > >--Jason Auvenshine
                                      >
                                      > That is a tautology, as you believe that by harming humanity, that
                                      person
                                      > infringes on rights. I would conclude, that one may not
                                      intentionally
                                      > infringe on rights to be a menace. The Jewish children blown up in
                                      > the martyrdoms in Tel-Aviv are doubtless without malice.
                                      Nonetheless they
                                      > are future generations who will serve as soldiers of Zionism, and
                                      killing
                                      > them while young is as valid as killing them while old.

                                      You are correct, it is a tautology as stated. What I left out was
                                      the definition of specific right(s) in question.

                                      So, let me rephrase the statement with a specific right for our
                                      discussion:
                                      The evidence of history shows that a person is always objectively
                                      harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                      another peaceful human being not to be killed.

                                      Based on your paragraph above, I assume it would be fair to state
                                      your position as the opposite:
                                      The evidence of history shows that a person is not always objectively
                                      harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                      another peaceful human being not to be killed.

                                      For the sake of argument, let's examine your statement about Jewish
                                      children, ie that they will grow up to be "soldiers of Zion" whose
                                      operational defintion will be "a bad thing for humanity."

                                      The future is not predictable with certainty. It's possible that
                                      some of the Jewish children would grow up and be peace activists.
                                      Maybe a libertarian, or a communist, or an islamist. All of these
                                      things are possible, but of course you would say that becoming
                                      a "soldier of Zion" is the most likely outcome for a Jewish child, a
                                      claim which I cannot dispute. So let's assume that the probability
                                      is high.

                                      Humans are fallible. The most immediate possible fallacy is that the
                                      children in the blast radius might not all be Jewish. But again, the
                                      probability of them being Jewish is pretty high given the target area.

                                      So...the suicide bombers are with a high probability killing children
                                      who would otherwise grow up to be something we have defined for sake
                                      of argument as objectively harmful to humanity. Does this establish
                                      that the killings are objectively beneficial? Not by a long shot.

                                      Rights address how societies function -- the interaction between many
                                      human beings. Thus far we have considered only the Jewish children
                                      and the suicide bombers. How are the parents, siblings, and friends
                                      of the Jewish children likely to react to the situation? By becoming
                                      MORE violent, not less. This is the "escalation" factor I mentioned
                                      in a previous message. For every Jewish child killed by a suicide
                                      bomber, the family and friends are apt to attempt/support retaliatory
                                      actions that would result in a far greater number of Palestinians
                                      being killed.

                                      You may of course point out that the suicide bombings are only
                                      happening because the Israeli army is _already_ killing Palestinian
                                      children, both directly and indirectly. This would be correct, but
                                      it makes rather than refutes my point. Violence begets more and
                                      greater violence. I do not excuse violence initiated by Isreal (or
                                      the U.S.) and realize that much of what goes on currently is simply
                                      backlash. Are the Isrealis objectively better off for having killed
                                      Palestinian children? No. Are the Palestinians objectively better
                                      off for having killed Isreali children? Again, no. Not because
                                      they're not actually taking out likely soldiers for the other
                                      side...they are. But because they are continuing in a cycle of
                                      violence which, if unchecked, will result in massive bloodshed,
                                      destruction, and death on both sides until one side or the other is
                                      utterly vanquished.

                                      This ever-growing "backlash" for killing is one of the things that
                                      makes it objectively harmful to do so even when the person being
                                      killed is presumed to be objectively harmful but currently peaceful.

                                      The other reason why killing an objectively harmful, but currently
                                      peaceful person is itself objectively harmful is desensitization.
                                      History and human psychology tends to indicate that the more one
                                      engages in (in this case, orders) killing, the more indiscriminate
                                      one becomes about it. Thus, over time, we could expect those
                                      ordering the killings to get sloppy with their assessments about who
                                      is objectively harmful, and start killing peole who were simply a
                                      threat to their political power and such.

                                      --Jason Auvenshine
                                    • thekoba@aztec.asu.edu
                                      ... Of course violence begets violence. It cannot be otherwise in war. It will end when one side or the other decides to give up. Since the imperialists need
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Dec 21 4:31 PM
                                        >
                                        >--- In azsecularhumanists@yahoogroups.com, thekoba@a... wrote:
                                        >> >I believe the evidence of history shows that a person is
                                        >objectively
                                        >> >harmful to humanity only when that person infringes upon the
                                        >rights
                                        >> >of others.
                                        >> >
                                        >> >--Jason Auvenshine
                                        >>
                                        >> That is a tautology, as you believe that by harming humanity, that
                                        >person
                                        >> infringes on rights. I would conclude, that one may not
                                        >intentionally
                                        >> infringe on rights to be a menace. The Jewish children blown up in
                                        >> the martyrdoms in Tel-Aviv are doubtless without malice.
                                        >Nonetheless they
                                        >> are future generations who will serve as soldiers of Zionism, and
                                        >killing
                                        >> them while young is as valid as killing them while old.
                                        >
                                        >You are correct, it is a tautology as stated. What I left out was
                                        >the definition of specific right(s) in question.
                                        >
                                        >So, let me rephrase the statement with a specific right for our
                                        >discussion:
                                        >The evidence of history shows that a person is always objectively
                                        >harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                        >another peaceful human being not to be killed.
                                        >
                                        >Based on your paragraph above, I assume it would be fair to state
                                        >your position as the opposite:
                                        >The evidence of history shows that a person is not always objectively
                                        >harmful to humanity if that person infringes upon the right of
                                        >another peaceful human being not to be killed.
                                        >
                                        >For the sake of argument, let's examine your statement about Jewish
                                        >children, ie that they will grow up to be "soldiers of Zion" whose
                                        >operational defintion will be "a bad thing for humanity."
                                        >
                                        >The future is not predictable with certainty. It's possible that
                                        >some of the Jewish children would grow up and be peace activists.
                                        >Maybe a libertarian, or a communist, or an islamist. All of these
                                        >things are possible, but of course you would say that becoming
                                        >a "soldier of Zion" is the most likely outcome for a Jewish child, a
                                        >claim which I cannot dispute. So let's assume that the probability
                                        >is high.
                                        >
                                        >Humans are fallible. The most immediate possible fallacy is that the
                                        >children in the blast radius might not all be Jewish. But again, the
                                        >probability of them being Jewish is pretty high given the target area.
                                        >
                                        >So...the suicide bombers are with a high probability killing children
                                        >who would otherwise grow up to be something we have defined for sake
                                        >of argument as objectively harmful to humanity. Does this establish
                                        >that the killings are objectively beneficial? Not by a long shot.
                                        >
                                        >Rights address how societies function -- the interaction between many
                                        >human beings. Thus far we have considered only the Jewish children
                                        >and the suicide bombers. How are the parents, siblings, and friends
                                        >of the Jewish children likely to react to the situation? By becoming
                                        >MORE violent, not less. This is the "escalation" factor I mentioned
                                        >in a previous message. For every Jewish child killed by a suicide
                                        >bomber, the family and friends are apt to attempt/support retaliatory
                                        >actions that would result in a far greater number of Palestinians
                                        >being killed.
                                        >
                                        >You may of course point out that the suicide bombings are only
                                        >happening because the Israeli army is _already_ killing Palestinian
                                        >children, both directly and indirectly. This would be correct, but
                                        >it makes rather than refutes my point. Violence begets more and
                                        >greater violence. I do not excuse violence initiated by Isreal (or
                                        >the U.S.) and realize that much of what goes on currently is simply
                                        >backlash. Are the Isrealis objectively better off for having killed
                                        >Palestinian children? No. Are the Palestinians objectively better
                                        >off for having killed Isreali children? Again, no. Not because
                                        >they're not actually taking out likely soldiers for the other
                                        >side...they are. But because they are continuing in a cycle of
                                        >violence which, if unchecked, will result in massive bloodshed,
                                        >destruction, and death on both sides until one side or the other is
                                        >utterly vanquished.
                                        >
                                        >This ever-growing "backlash" for killing is one of the things that
                                        >makes it objectively harmful to do so even when the person being
                                        >killed is presumed to be objectively harmful but currently peaceful.
                                        >
                                        >The other reason why killing an objectively harmful, but currently
                                        >peaceful person is itself objectively harmful is desensitization.
                                        >History and human psychology tends to indicate that the more one
                                        >engages in (in this case, orders) killing, the more indiscriminate
                                        >one becomes about it. Thus, over time, we could expect those
                                        >ordering the killings to get sloppy with their assessments about who
                                        >is objectively harmful, and start killing peole who were simply a
                                        >threat to their political power and such.
                                        >
                                        >--Jason Auvenshine

                                        Of course violence begets violence. It cannot be otherwise in war.
                                        It will end when one side or the other decides to give up. Since
                                        the imperialists need us to do the work for them, they can't kill
                                        us all, but since we don't need them, we can kill all of them. Thus
                                        it is logical to assume that there will be some Arabs left alive after
                                        every Jew is dead, or more likely, that the Zionists will give up the
                                        struggle and either return to Europe and North America or agree to
                                        live in a united, democratic secular Palestine without economic privilege
                                        without having killed all the Palestineans.

                                        On the other hand, what is the alternative? Not kill any Jews and suffer
                                        their oppression? That is a formula for continuing Zionist oppression,
                                        which is not conducive to the happiness of humanity. Kill only soldiers?
                                        That will result in a casualty rate lopsided in the favour of the Jews
                                        and will cause the defeat of the current struggle. Also soldiers also
                                        have loved ones, and when soldiers are killed there is also a call for
                                        vengeance and an escallation of violence, so the result will be just
                                        as bad for the Palestineans in the long run. Given that Israel practices
                                        universal conscription, there isn't much distinctions between soldiers
                                        and civilians in that country anyway.

                                        --Kevin

                                        Roses are red
                                        Violets are blue
                                        For every dead Arab
                                        Another dead Jew

                                        --National Alliance chant
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