Re: PHIL: The flaw in "rights"

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 29 Apr 1999 09:14:57 -0700 (PDT)

> The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has
> a right to food, clothing, and education. "Rights" apply only between
> person and person, not between person and Nature. I can have a "right"
> for you not to punch me in the nose; I can't have a "right" to eat a
> meal. Maybe I have the "right" to take your meal away from you and eat
> it, but if that's what they meant, they should have said so.
> I don't know if anyone has phrased it that way before, but it strikes me
> as being a clean logical-plane counter to an unfortunate way of
> thinking, so I thought I'd share it.

>From the definitions section of the Oceania Constitution:

A right DOES NOT imply an obligation on anyone else's part to provide the means to exercise that right. ...
An entitlement is a positive obligation on provide something for another, or a right that interferes with someone else's rights.

That's another way to phrase rights so that "food" doesn't make sense as a right. A right is an action that you may take without expecting interference from others. Since "nature" is not an actor that can interfere with you, one has no rights with respect to nature, only with respect to other people (thus, Stan-who-is- called-Loretta really doesn't have the right to bear children:)

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
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