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Skeptics of Tucson Message Board › Human Rights

Human Rights

A former member
Post #: 49
I have a suspicion that there is in general a misunderstanding of what "Human Rights" are. Following in an excerpt from an article titled "Reason or Faith: The Republican Alternative." The article is advise to the Republican Party on what they should do. The article assumes that both the right and the left do not have a grasp of what constitutes "rights".

Rights are not gifts from “God,” who demands payment for his generosity by calling for the continual violation of those rights. Nor are rights gifts from the state to be created or destroyed by majority vote, constitutional convention, or pragmatic jurisprudence. The source of rights is neither faith nor feelings but facts.

Individual rights are moral principles arising from the requirements of human life in a social context. In order for people to live, they must be free to think and act on their own judgment. Rights specify this fact and prescribe government protection for each individual against those who seek to infringe on his freedom.

It is right to value one’s own life and to think and act by one’s own judgment; thus every individual has a right to life and liberty. It is right to keep what one produces and to trade with others voluntarily; thus every individual has a right to property. It is right to act for one’s own benefit; thus every individual has a right to pursue his own happiness. It is right to restrain, and if necessary destroy, those who attack us; the right to self-defense is a corollary of the right to life. All of this is true, because it is right to live, to love one’s life, and to prosper—by one’s own effort.

Rather than placing each of us under an injunction to serve others, the moral principle of individual rights sets each individual free from such unfounded “duty.” Rights enable each individual to pursue his own happiness by his own thought and effort, neither sacrificing himself for others nor sacrificing others for himself. The only purpose of government, on this account, is to protect the freedom defined by man’s rights. When these facts are recognized, politicians cease to be collectors of sacrifices; they become protectors of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

The fact that many people fail to recognize such moral truths reveals a deeper error shared by the left and the right. Leftists claim that moral principles cannot be validated by reference to facts. In their view, no “is” can lead to an “ought”; moral principles are conventions that we invent or intuitions that shift with the tides of popular opinion. To illustrate this idea, we have the amoralism of the 1960s: free speech as pornography, drama as gratuitous nudity, literature as plotless profanity, political activism as smashing “the system.” Leftists treat rights the same way they treat all moral principles: as conveniences that we may change at whim.

The basis of this moral agnosticism is subjectivism—the idea that we create reality in our minds, rather than grasp it through our senses by means of reason. There are no absolutes in this world-view, only the whims and feelings of the crowd: vox populi.
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