Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Warning what follows is probably a meaningless rant, containing a large amount of hyperbola, and the pushing of Idea's beyond what I actually think.

One thing that I think is over used and some what bastardised at the current time is the idea of rights.
People, the Media, various groups and Politicians all seem to have something present in the background of there thoughts something they call rights.
Some thing you should have or deserve simply because you exist, or because your a member of a certain country or segment of society or something. For some reason that usually isn't logical or well thought out these people deserve something some "rights".
Be this the right to free speech, Human rights, the right for the disabled to enter public buildings, the right to economic equality, or what ever.
The problem being that they seem to think these rights some how exist out side the normal order of things, that they just are, they're something you have or get not something you work for or do any thing about, the universe or other people just owe you them.

However I really don't see how this works. As far as I can tell the universe owes you exactly squat/zero that your'd actually want to collect (the only thing it may owe you death/entropy, but that's something most don't want to collect).
What I think rights are actually (rather than some debt the universe owes you) is a set of shared ideas/recommendations that are useful for helping human societies function. They seem to be ideas that if ignored are likely to have consequences due to the manner in which human's nature/mind work.

The important thing about these "recommendations" is that of you except them there are certain responsibilities associated with them that must be followed if you desire the right.
ie If you want human rights then it is imperative that you grant them to others. If you fail to then don't go complaining if yours get violated.
As such "rights" of this type can be considered to be the underlying frame work human society is based on. However it is essential to remember that such rights are not some fundamental intrinsic absolute. They only exist as an agreement between you and the rest of your species.

Any way it appears that somewhere along the way to our current society the responsibility aspect of such rights has been forgotten. People see equality as a right and this and that as a right. Maybe as a result of companies believing they have a right to profit with no regard to those who they profit from, or perhaps it's politicians voluntary to take all your responsibilities if you'll only just elect them, or the media going "oww look shiny, you need!" whenever something interesting turns up.
For example equality is not a right if you want equality it's something your going to have to work for.

On a slightly related note I'd thought I'd add a quote from a little TV/Anime series I was watching recently. It's not something I totally agree on but I do have a certain amount of sympathy for the Idea.

"People are not equal, Those who are born fleet of foot, those who are born beautiful, those who's parents, are poor those who have weak bodies.
Birth, growth and talent, All humans are different!
That's right people are born to be different!
That is why people fight and compete with one another!
From there Evolution takes place.
Inequality is not evil, equality it's self is evil!
We fight, compete and continue to evolve"

Finally I guess the point of this post was that rights come with responsibilities, if they don't they're just dreams, illusions of a delusional mind.
So don't expect any rights unless your prepared to work for them.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I used to think precisely the same thing. I was intrigued however in my philosophy class when one of the students made it clear they understood "X has a right to Y" as meaning something like "it is right that X is allowed to do Y" or to fuzzy the definition further "in a fair, ideal, and just world, X would be allowed to do Y". I found that redefinition somewhat inspiriting, and challenging to my objections against "rights".

So yeah, if someone thinks that by virtue of their existence that they have "rights" to things then I'm going to roll my eyes at them. But I don't have any gripes in general with saying "it's right that X", or "in an fair, ideal, and just world X". So I've found I've become a lot more tolerate of rights language since I've been able to start mentally substituting the definition behind the scenes. I know most people who use the language mean the bad definition, but I've become adept at mentally editing that out (and thus saving myself the philosophical eyerolling).