We will explore a fundamental question that came up during our first meeting. (See meeting notes.) A core disagreement between ethicists is whether all true human rights are "negative" (i.e., freedom from certain behavior, like murder, theft, rape), which usually do not conflict, or whether humans also have positive rights (i.e., the right to be given food, water, shelter) which always conflict with other humans' (esp. negative) rights.
The following material is offered to help prepare you for the discussion -- if you so desire. Please post additional material in the Comments section below that may be useful to others.
Father James Sadowsky: "When we say that one has the right to do certain things we mean this and only this, that it would be immoral for another, alone or in combination, to stop him from doing this by the use of physical force or the threat thereof. We do not mean that any use a man makes of his property within the limits set forth is necessarily a moral use."
• Wiki overview of positive and negative rights
• Article: The Perils of Positive Rights
• A Study Guide by a professor
• A blog on positive vs negative rights
• Article: Confilcting Rights Imply Phony Rights
Quick Overview of Structure of the Meeting
• We will socialize between 6:40 and 7:20.
• We will order around 7PM
• At 7:20 the moderator will introduce the topic.
• Each person who wishes to be heard may speak without interruption for 3-5 minutes. (Please do not interrupt. Take notes of questions or ideas as they come to you. You may discuss these later.)
• The moderator will choose two listeners to ask a clarifying question of the speaker; the questions should be short questions on topic and of general group interest. These are inquisitive questions -- genuine interest in the answer clarifying a salient point for the group. Save debate, sharing your opinion, and off topic or personal interest questions for later.
• The next speaker will then have her time.
• After everyone is heard, the moderator will lead a general discussion on a few themes that seemed to predominate and that had some juice, citing the perspectives of speakers who presented contrary points.
• The group then may break into smaller groups or pairs that may informally go into greater depth and debate specific questions. You may also use this time to query others privately about off-topic or personal interest subjects that may have come up that interested you.
• The moderator will post a summary of the discussion on this site's discussion page. You may correct or extend that discussion
• Discussion is expected to be courteous, inquisitive, contemplative, and compassionate.