Re: sentient rights (was RE: Battleground God)

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Wed Feb 27 2002 - 14:59:23 MST

Richard Steven Hack wrote:

> At 05:49 PM 2/24/02 -0800, you wrote:
>> Richard Steven Hack wrote:
>>> I have yet to see someone explain to me how the human need to
>>> breathe, eat, sleep, and excrete and reproduce translates into a
>>> "right" which is somehow a physical law. This is nothing but
>>> hand-waving.
>> Since those things are not what distinquishes humans from other
>> animals they are clearly not a sufficient place to look for a nature
>> based justification of what humans rights. Reducing the argument to
>> such inanities is worse than hand-waving.
> Ah, so we base the discussion on conceptual processing and imagination,
> eh? And do we ignore the lack of same in the bulk of the species? Ayn

It would be necessary to prove the existence of significant
conceptual processing in other species before it could be
considered relevant in determining that species rights.

> Rand's own irrationality was amply analyzed by Nathaniel Branden in an
> article he wrote. I do not reduce the argument to those "inanities" -

Are we to assume his analysis is bug and bias free and utterly
correct? Besides my argument does not hinge on Ayn Rand or her
level of freedom from irrationality. You assume too much.

> your attempt to simplify my argument to that level is incorrect. I
> still have yet to hear anyone translate the human capacity for
> conceptual processing or any other human need into a need for a "natural
> law".

Who the heck is talking about "natural *law*". I am talking
about natural *rights* deriving from the nature of the beings

>>> "Codified physical law" is hand-waving. There is the physical
>>> universe which includes biology and evolution. There are human
>>> concepts of same. The map is not the territory. A human concept is
>>> not a physical law (in fact, "physical law" is a merely a human
>>> concept - and there are scientists who are not so sure that there ARE
>>> "physical laws" operative throughout the Universe).
>> Are you claiming that human beings hae no specific nature and that
>> their nature does not lead to certain conditions being more optimal
>> for their well being, particularly concerning their interaction with
>> other people and instutions of same? You have to claim this if you
>> are going to utterly dismiss the argument.
>> Physical laws are not the end and be all of what is real and
>> important. They are the basis of reality but do not utterly contain
>> everything in reality, if you see what I mean.
> Obviously I am not claiming anything of the sort - do not put words in
> my mouth. Of course humans have specific needs - what I am objecting to
> is the unnecessary transformation of a need into a mystical concept of
> "right".

It is not obvious to date. Why switch from specific nature to
specific needs? They are not the same. It is you that is
asserting that rights are a mystical concept. It is not a given
for the discussion.

>> I already answered that question. And the second one by implication.
>> It is a principle of Objectivism that rights are objective, derivable
>> from reality. If so there is no multiplication of concepts beyond
>> need. What exactly would you base ethics on if not on some
>> understanding of what is required for human beings to function
>> optiomally together?
> You have not answered the question except with more hand-waving. It may
> be a principle of Objectivism, but they did not derive it logically
> either except with hand-waving.

Please clarify what would satisfy you as more than hand-waving
in such a discussion.

> I am amused that some people few the notion of ethics as a given
> essential of the universe. If something does not fit their "ethics"

The need for ethics grows out of the interaction of sentient
beings like ourselves. I don't know what "given essential"
means to you.

> they cannot comprehend why it exists. To be precise, there is in fact

I have no idea what you are talking about.

> no need for ethics at all. What is needed is a set of principles by

"In fact"? What facts are these?

> which one can act in a social context and which provide the most
> likelihood of satisfying one's survival needs. If you wish to call

This is what ethics are, including how one arrives at and
validates such principles.

> these principles "ethics", feel free. I call them principles, so as not
> to expand concepts beyond need and in the bargain burden a concept with
> mystical baggage.

Principles include many different things including those
principles which are part of ethics. Therefore the word
"principles" is inadequate as it is not uniquely bound to this
area of concern.

>> This is a way of arriving at much the same thing. You seem to be
>> quibbling more over semantics.
> Not at all. One concept is based on mysticism ("rights"), one on
> demonstrable economic analysis of the behavior of large groups of
> people. One concept is based on "natural law" - a meaningless concept -
> and one is based on practical results - productivity or non-productivity
> toward a specific purpose - survival of the individual and the species.

These are empty assertions of "mysticism" and "natural law" that
I did not make. You did.

 - samantha

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