Re: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 07:03:09 MST

Samantha Atkins wrote:
> Damien R. Sullivan wrote:
> > On Thu, Feb 21, 2002 at 11:01:07AM -0500, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> >
> > "Codified physical law"? I'd like to see some support for that.
> Agreed. It is a strange turn of phrase. To me the argument
> that natural rights grow out of the fact that humans, by virtue
> of their specific nature, require certain conditions in order to
> live and thrive most optimally and a subset of those are
> basically rights to their own person, property and pursuits -
> the so-called "negative rights" - comes closest to a
> justification for natural rights.

YES, Samantha (and excellent post, btw). Where exactly does 'human
nature' come from? From evolution, of course, a physical process that
depends on how matter and energy interact within the rules of physical
law. It is abstracted, certainly, but it is still quite a matter of
objective truth about how the universe works.

> > It was an extropian on this list -- Dave Krieger? dv/dt? -- who pushed
> > me from believing in "natural rights" (with severe qualms, since I
> > couldn't imagine how to possibly get someone like Stalin or Hitler to
> > take them seriously) to viewing rights as a social contract, which
> > amounts to a social fiction.
> Give the above notion of natural rights the natural rights exist
> regardless of whether they are honored by any particular ruler
> or mob. Judging the actions of the rulers or mobs is done
> relative to supporting or denying these "natural rights", these
> requirements for human well-being. This seems much more
> reasonable than attempting the reverse, judging the concept of
> natural rights on the basis of whether this or that leader or
> group would honor and uphold them. Saying they are a social
> contract, in my opinion, makes a similar mistake. It puts the
> emphasis on upholding these rights rather than on whether
> certain "rights" naturally are required by dint of the nature of
> human beings.

It also says that rights are only granted by the grace and goodwill of
whatever group amasses enough power to dictate. This is nothing but

> >
> > The social fictions have consequences, mind you; it's not as if ethics
> > can be chosen willy-nilly. But they're hardly determined, or guaranteed
> > to be pleasant in all circumstances, and they're not necessarily
> > self-enforcing in a human lifespan.
> >
> What your nature requires relative to the actions of others or
> their refraining from certain actions for your optimal
> functioning does not change based on how they do in fact act
> toward you. Natural rights therefore are not a matter of social
> contract. Social contracts, if they are rational, grow out of
> these "natural rights" - not the reverse.

Excellent conclusion, Samantha. Amazing, we agree on something, isn't
it? ;)

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