A Discussion About Rights & Morality

The following conversation took place at my Discord server.
https://discord.gg/3rhghRX

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bbblackwell > Chow Mein
There’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what rights are here. That’s fine, we’ve all been there. It requires some study, or some patient discourse. But rights refer to what’s morally acceptable. Morality is natural law cause-and-effect; it does not change with time or place. What’s “acceptable” is what acknowledges and leverages that cause-and-effect system to achieve the result that best serves the true nature of the beings in question.

In other words, cause-and-effect is neutral – it just IS – but man has the power to understand that system to achieve particular results. If you drop your pet giraffe out the window, it falls and dies. That’s gravity and the fragile nature of the physical form. By acknowledging this immutable law of nature, we can work with that law to preserve the life of the giraffe. We can not drop it, or put a matress on the ground, whatever. This serves the best interests of the giraffe’s nature, which is to survive and thrive. And so we say dropping a giraffe out a window is “immoral” meaning the action does not duly acknowledge natural law with the intent to most authentically support the nature of the being.

And so, if you do not have a right to do something, it can never be the case that you can morally “grant” that right to someone else. The nature of the action in question is contrary to duly acknowledging natural law with the intent to support the true nature of the being in question (i.e. it is immoral). Being immoral for you, it is ALWAYS immoral for ANYONE. SImply think of an obvious example like rape. You do not have the right to rape. When would it be appropriate to “delegate” that non-right to someone else? It can never be so that this would be appropriate because morality does not – and cannot – change. It is not within man’s power to alter the laws of nature (even by elaborate social rituals). Nature, to be commanded, must first be obeyed. The best results will always be born of moral action, every time, in every case, ALWAYS.

Chow Mein > bbblackwell
“But rights refer to what’s morally acceptable”

They don’t. Rights refer to certain entitlements that we have.

“Morality is natural law cause-and-effect; it does not change with time or place. What’s “acceptable” is what acknowledges and leverages that cause-and-effect system to achieve the result that best serves the true nature of the beings in question”

I would reject that there is a “true nature” to people. This would imply the Kantian view that the “true self” of a person lies beyond the empirical world. Kant though thought that by viewing the true self as unburdened by the categories of the understanding used to understand the empirical world, true freedom could be had. The “true self” is in effect a noumenon. However, this makes what a person “really” is absolutely unknowable and unintelligible.

As I see it, the nature of people is inextricably bound up with the various concepts they use and social practices they engage in. Thus, as I see it, morality does change with time and place, but this need not imply an absolute relativism. Rather, it is only by morality entering our practices of social self-interpretation that we can ever come to know the objective truth, for if the truth were beyond our categories, then it would be fundamentally impossible to know it.

◊ηÈ ◊F ⊥ɧ◊SÈ ૬µýS > Chow Mein
why did you overlook the clear example of rape? I’ll ask it again. When would it be appropriate to endow another person the “right” to rape someone else?

I like how you bog down in the minutia, and avoid the crux of an argument. Seems to be one of your prevailing tactics.

Chow Mein > ◊ηÈ ◊F ⊥ɧ◊SÈ ૬µýS
My bad. The obvious answer is that rape is unambiguously evil. So there is no case when the “right” to rape can be deferred to someone or something else. However, when it comes to something more nuanced such as killing, that leaves a lot more room open for legitimate argumentation.

I just thought that demonstrating that rape is a non-deferrable right was missing the point.

The argument that “You cannot delegate to someone else what you don’t have” really means “You cannot delegate to someone else what you don’t justly have”. This is uncontroversial. For example, you cannot delegate the right to someone else to outright appropriate someone else’s property. However, from an example like this, it does not follow that “X can only be given if one actually has X”. As I said, when it comes to more nuanced ideas, such as killing, there is a lot more room open for interpretation and I personally happen to believe that there are some things which the individual does not have that they can defer to a higher authority.

But furthermore, to say that “You cannot delegate to someone else what you don’t have” implies that “You can delegate to someone else what you do have”. This becomes highly problematic when we discuss rights since it implies that rights can be transferred to someone else and hence self-negated.

bbblackwell > Chow Mein
Ah OK… so you’re employing the colloquial “citizen’s” usage of the word “rights” to mean entitlements. I presume you mean those allowances granted by an authoritative body (be that body democratically empowered or otherwise – it matters not for our purposes), since for an entitlement to exist, there must be some body with the power to grant title who bestows it.

Let’s consider why the word “rights” is used for this purpose. In the United States this usage finds its official origins in the Declaration of Independence, where it was stated that rights are “God-given, self-evident, and unalienable”. Obviously, right on the face of it we can see that this differs greatly from an entitlement. The intent here is to describe some extant phenomena that exists independent of man’s actions, whereas entitlement carries the aforementioned authority-granted connotation. So we have a mutation of the term occurring over time, such that in the end we have a word being shared by two distinct (and, in fact, opposite) concepts, thereby suggesting an intrinsic similarity where there is none. I humbly suggest this ploy is enacted purposefully to deceive, but that is another matter.

In any case, we are speaking of two very different things. I am speaking about the rights cited in the Declaration, and have defined what these are in my previous post. They are born of moral law. You are speaking about granted allowances, which are authoritarian tools for creating the illusion of freedom, and have no relationship to natural law morality (other than failing to conform with them) because they are born of man’s caprice. With that in mind, it would demonstrate exceptional resolve and intellectual fortitude if you would address my previous post from this clarified perspective.

As to human nature, an aspect of self that “lies beyond the empirical world” is not being suggested here. Your perception of man is correct, in that he is “inextricably bound up with the various concepts [he uses] and social practices [he engages] in”; but this does not constitute the WHOLE of his nature. Man’s nature is that he is programmable, and that he has free will. This apparent contradiction is resolved by and understanding of where free will lies – it lies in the freedom to choose where to place one’s ATTENTION. The mind is programmable, but which programs are admitted is a free will decision. Phenomena occurs, we may view it and quickly turn away, or we may foster the mental conception of that idea with the attention granted (pondering, repeating, supplementing with additional like material). For a more thorough (though reasonably concise) explanation, see the following article: https://steemit.com/life/@bbblackwell/unraveling-the-mystery-of-human-nature

Chow Mein > bbblackwell
“Ah OK… so you’re employing the colloquial “citizen’s” usage of the word “rights” to mean entitlements.”

I wouldn’t say this is the “colloquial” usage of the word. Rather, I’d say this is just what rights are.

“since for an entitlement to exist, there must be some body with the power to grant title who bestows it.”

Agreed. However, when you say that there must be “some body” in order to grant these rights, I believe that this holds metaphysical significance. I do not believe that morality exists “out there” in the abstract, as untethered principles independent of this world, for I do not believe that principles, in and of themselves, hold any power when they exist in this abstracted form. Thus, I do not see there being any moral facts when we consider morality from this abstract point of view. Rather, in order for there to be morality and moral facts as such, they must be embodied if we are to ascribe to them any power whatsoever.

Thus, the essential core of my view of ethics is that it is an embodied process of social self-interpretation.

“You are speaking about granted allowances, which are authoritarian tools for creating the illusion of freedom, and have no relationship to natural law morality (other than failing to conform with them) because they are born of man’s caprice.”

I would argue not. The true illusion, in my honest opinion, is that morality exists independently of man and his social environment. Where we fundamentally differ is on our views of the individual which from there is how we derive our views on morality. Individualists view the individual as self-sufficient and thus has certain rights all on his lonesome. However, I’d argue that this is an abstraction from the reality of things. Freedom, in my view, is not a state we find ourselves in, but rather a process of social self-determination. Thus, what freedom means cannot be abstracted out of any particular social environment. However, this need not lead to moral relativism in the sense of your “freedom” is different from mine. Rather, what it means is that the free individual is inseparable from the environment he finds himself in, which means that the free individual is inseparable from the various social and political institutions that, ideally, embody the “natural law” you are speaking of. So iow, I do not see the fact that rights are granted by authoritative bodies as a mere “ploy” for authoritarian deception.

Curmudgeon
But what if submitting to authority is what you want? Also, I think morality is entirely a developed perception and can severally vary based on environment. Moral right is an opinion. Domination is a contract we submit to.

bbblackwell > Chow Mein
Morality is not abstract – I have described it as the cause-and-effect of human behavior. It is logically and scientifically discernibile. Enforcement of a claimed external authority is slavery. Slavery has degrees, yes, but across that spectrum, there is no difference in the fundamental quality of the relationship. The slave master and the politician both make the same claim: “I have a right to issue commands which you must obey under threat of punishment.” There is no valid justification for that claim. Consensus does not determine reality – billions of people can agree and be wrong.

The reason why the claim is invalid is because it is contrary to human nature. Human beings have autonomous control over themselves. They do not come into the world with strings attached to their limbs, which a puppet master controls. To devise means by which one may gain such control is an attempt to override the intrinsic, God-given, self-evident, unalienable nature of the being. This is on-the-ground reality, not philosophical abstraction. To deny reality in this way has consequences, just as it does relative to gravity, the need of sustenance, the danger of fire, or anything else established by the laws of nature. The consequence of immorality is conditions which inhibit the authentic expression of the beings within that co-created society.

Chow Mein > bbblackwell
“Morality is not abstract – I have described it as the cause-and-effect of human behavior.”

Frankly, it is. Where does morality exist? When it does exist? Morality is not a spatiotemporal thing with a definite location in time and space. Therefore, it is abstract.

“It is logically and scientifically discernable”

I disagree. I do not believe that morality is analysable in that manner. To examine morality from such an abstract viewpoint is to lift it out of its concrete context which is necessarily to render it unintelligible. I see morality as understandable only from within the context of various social practices and discourses.

“Enforcement of a claimed external authority is slavery…The slave master and the politician both make the same claim: “I have a right to issue commands which you must obey under threat of punishment.””

I disagree that you’re talking about similar things here. We can both agree on the concept of self-ownership. I have no qualms with that. Slavery is immoral because it treats people as objects instead of acknowledging their subjective interior life as conscious beings. I can agree with your natural law view of morality on this point (but perhaps not others). Slavery is wrong because it doesn’t recognize the true nature of humans as beings with interior lives.

However, it seems to me that you’re fundamentally misunderstanding the primary claim of natural law theory. Natural law does not claim that facts are values. It claims that facts have value. This value is logically independent of the fact it is attached to (even though it may not be separable metaphysically). Therefore, there is no logically necessary reason why certain facts should be valued in the manner they are.

“There is no valid justification for that claim. Consensus does not determine reality – billions of people can agree and be wrong.”

I agree. I didn’t and don’t base morality on the basis of currently held popular views.

Curmudgeon
How is your “slavery spectrum” any different then the “gender spectrum”. Also there is a lot more to government then “I command, you obey.” I don’t think government would have made it this far if it was. The whole point of democracy is “we all vote on what should be obeyed.”

And you claim that “governing is immoral,” is way off topic from the discoveries on natural human morality. It is actually more natural for humans to follow a leader.

JB_Wyles
A leader does not imply governance. Of course there will be all sorts of leaders, if govt weren’t present. There would still be leading thinkers in philosophy, in the sciences, out of every community leaders would organically arise, just as Chieftans/Shamans do. They prioritize understanding consciousness, and the laws of nature, and so, will naturally gain the ability to percieve complex systems that others do not.
Difference is, you are under no obligation under threat of violence if you choose not to do what a leader thinks is best.

Chow Mein > JB_Wyles
“Of course there will be all sorts of leaders, if govt weren’t present. There would still be leading thinkers in philosophy, in the sciences, out of every community leaders would organically arise, just as Chieftans/Shamans do”

It seems to me that you’re using the word “leader” in two senses here. One to mean a figure of commanding authority and another to mean an eminent person. Eminence is not the same as being able to command authority.

“Difference is, you are under no obligation under threat of violence if you choose not to do what a leader thinks is best.”

It doesn’t follow from you refusing to obey authority that you suffering the consequences is therefore immoral. You choosing not to obey is not sufficient to make you not have an obligation. That’s the whole point of an obligation. You are bound by it whether you personally like it or not.

Curmudgeon > JB_Wyles
HA! Without government, there is even less standing in the way of the malicious and power-lustful from taking control. Think of Salem. They did exactly that.

bbblackwell > Chow Mein
Please cite the basis for this “obligation” to obey authority. Is it not merely the consensus of a particular group (voters who chose the winner) that validates and creates this obligation? Considering the fact that authority is the RIGHT to rule (not merely the ability), is this not a case of basing morality on consensus (an idea you previously rejected)?

bbblackwell > Curmudgeon
And how shall the malicious and power-lustful take control in a free society? They’ll need a damn powerful plan B, since throughout all of recorded history they’ve usurped government to do so, and a better method can scarcely be imagined.

Curmudgeon > bbblackwell
Anarchy and freedom are two different things, anarchy does not guaranty freedom only that there is no government to restrict or protect it.

And you blame government for greedy people taking advantage of it? Government doesn’t just start out perfect, it develops through the hardships to meet goals like most other human inventions. Most cases of government being taken advantage of is when it takes a passive or laissez faire policy (a term often associated with lesser forms of anarchy).

bbblackwell > Curmudgeon
Anarchy and freedom are literally synonymous. The word is unambiguous; it means “No Rulers.” Having a ruler means you are not free. There’s no room for interpretation here.

Does having no rulers guarantee that people won’t attempt to limit your freedom? Of course not – nothing in this universe does that. Government certainly doesn’t do that, and in addition to offering no guarantee of freedom, it also guarantees LOSS of freedom because that’s what it inherently IS.

Show me a government that only protects freedom and I’ll show you an organizational body that is not government at all. Government, by definition, issues commands which must be obeyed under threat of violent punishment. It’s a euphemism for coercion. No violent coercion, no government. There is no refutation of this point.

Chow Mein > bbblackwell
“Please cite the basis for this “obligation” to obey authority.”

I believe this obligation stems from the nature of loyalty and being a loyal member of a community which is in service to some cause or idea. Being a loyal member of a community means you identify its interests and goals with your own. Obligations carry with them their own logic. I don’t believe they are unconditional. Rather, a person is bound by an obligation if doing something will help advance the goals and interests of the community they are a member of.

As I’ve said before, I believe that something as abstract as authority requires embodiment in order to exist in this world. People are obligated to obey authority because the authority is in some sense the community itself. So by serving the authority they are serving the community.

“Is it not merely the consensus of a particular group (voters who chose the winner) that validates and creates this obligation?”

Not really. I don’t view the community as a collective i.e. a mere aggregate of individuals. I view it more organismically. The community is, in some ways, above the members that constitute it. Communities can take on lives of their own (partially) independently of its members.

Thus, as I see it, when people associate into communities they are in the process of creating something that is almost transcendental. They create something of a second-order or higher nature and consequently they acquire a higher life/consciousness of their own.

bbblackwell > Chow Mein
You raise a good point. The NAP is what I would call “elementary morality”. It represents a minimum standard; it’s not an advanced description. If morality is understood as a law of nature, then, like physics, we can suppose that our knowledge of it may be incomplete. Doing no harm is the least of it. I believe that morality will increasingly be recognized as the “Law of Love” as our knowledge expands. It is said that “God is Love” and that we are made in His image (even if only metaphorically). My theory is that Love is our true nature, and thus moral law (being the system that directs us toward the fullest expression of the true nature of the being in question) will prove to be driving us toward acting from that place (which would include much more than merely doing no harm).

I want to bring focus to the discussion by reminding everyone that it’s not about “people” getting along and “everyone” being moral. It’s about YOU getting along with people, and YOU being moral. Our only power is over ourselves. We are not makjng decisions gor the world in these discussions, such that we must fear our choice will come to pass overnight. We are making decisions for ourselves and no one else. Man must know his role and remember his natural scope. The “enlightened” anarchist does not call for the overthrow of government, but for each individual to earnestly consider the truth of these matters and act in accord with their growing understanding. Instead of thinking about “what works” on the effect level, we’re asking that each person consider the causal factors, and evaluate honestly; clear of lifelong programming and cultural paradigms, following the path where it leads, instead of where you think it should go. Our world is all but entirely backwards. Scoundrels have influenced the culture to believe that moral crimes are virtues so that their crimes will go unpunished (and actually be supported by their victims).

There is no such thing as creating valid authority by political ritual, no matter how many agree. Taxation IS theft. Government IS slavery. These facts are as obvious as the sun in the sky if one considers the matter earnestly, with an intellectual clean slate, and divorced from seeking preferred investigational outcomes. Start with “I think therefore I am” if you must, but get the table clear before laying these ideas upon it, and what you find will be utterly beyond doubt. Then act from that understanding, removing your support from that which is based in fallacy and immorality. Add yourself to the tally of those who seek to move the world in a peaceful, universally prosperous direction. And when enough do so, the cultural co-creation will begin to shift organically, without imposed policies, without violent opposition, and without fear of the unknown.

Curmudgeon > bbblackwell
So, basically, you want people to be able to choose whether to be part of an institution instead of being born into it?

bbblackwell > Curmudgeon
I want nature and its properties to be duly acknowledged, as this is the only rational, prudent course for an intelligent being. So yes, I’m encouraging you to recognize man’s inherent free will through your actions by respecting individual consent in all you do. If expressed consent is being overridden by any person, group, or institution, I implore you to first employ wisdom and cease supporting that denial of reality, and second, take an active role in putting an end to the widespread belief in that falsehood.

Chow Mein > bbblackwell
“So yes, I’m encouraging you to recognize man’s inherent free will through your actions by respecting individual consent in all you do”

I don’t think anyone is saying that individual choice or consent shouldn’t be respected, only that there is no categorical reason to think that choice is intrinsically valuable.

bbblackwell > Chow Mein
Value is contextual, so when you say “intrinsically valuable”, valuable to what end? If choice is inherent to the human being, than it seems like we’re discussing whether human existence is intrinsically valuable, which is is somewhat beyond our scope (not just in this discussion, but in general, as we are conscious beings existing within mysterious circumstances).

Curmudgeon > bbblackwell
What if one individual’s choice prevents/hinders another individuals choice? Is it in his right to do as he chooses or is he in the wrong for hindering another’s ability to choose?

bbblackwell > Curmudgeon
This is made clear by considering freedom in the aggregate, instead of only on the individual level. Freedom can never infringe upon itself. When I exercise my autonomy to infringe upon yours, that action is not me exercising “freedom”. I am not free to do this thing, as it carries the negative consequence of natural law. I am free to perform moral acitons (free FROM those consequences). If my freedom infringes upon yours, then freedom – as an overarching concept – would be both “A” and “not A” – my freedom, and your non-freedom. This cannot be. Freedom can never infringe upon freedom, or it is not freedom.

Curmudgeon > bbblackwell
What is the negative consequence of natural law?

bbblackwell > Curmudgeon
In a word: Slavery.

The hinderance of the authentic expression of the beings in question. This is not a consequence coming from outside – from God or the universe in some surreal sense – it’s the natural conclusion of immorality. The immoral act is, in itself, an act of slavery. On a social level, it is no different – as above, so below. It’s just a matter of scale.

(This next portion below was a separate discussion of the same topic about rights and morality.)

bbblackwell
Just to gather up and organize what you guys have been discussing: “Unalienable” means it cannot be alienated – or removed – from the person by any means; it is intrinsic. The unalienable item is the universal circumstance by which a right may be exercised free of negative consequence. And what is a right? It’s a benign action – an action which does not limit or prohibit the benign actions of others. A right is not a protection against the actions of other people; it’s a protection against generating negative causation. A free will being may act upon you in any number of ways in response to your rightful action, but that is a separate, unrelated matter; not a consequence as spoken of in natural law terms. Should that person take immoral action against you (thus violating your right to consent – a benign action protected by natural law), then that action will cause negative universal consequence. And never mind broad-scale “karmic” consequence for a moment (which is a reverberation of the foul energy of the immoral act), but quite directly we see the negative consequence to humanity’s overall well-being – one of its members was made to suffer, this reducing the successful authentic expression of the whole. Then all the subtleties associated with that begin their domino effect; be it the feelings of guilt or general misalignment with one’s true nature experienced by the offender, or the feelings of powerlessness of the victim, or the feelings of fear created in onlookers, etc. Examining how the thought/emotion/action dynamic affects the manifested world makes clear how these consequences are like entropic ripples in the ocean, eroding the supports of our highest-potential society. There’s no belief required about all this – no woo woo magic of the Gods – and there’s no opinions to be had either; just obvious, factual cause-and-effect.

But if one does not understand all of this – if they only have a few pieces of the puzzle and can’t see what picture is being made – they just think, “Got the purse, got the cash, got away with it.” Then in the next breath they talk about how they’re getting fucked over by society, but don’t see how their own actions are contributing to that scenario. How one effect becomes the next cause (if informed free will decisions don’t intervene). An obvious example of how they’re contributing is how so many statists use such immoral actions as justification for government. The old fear>ignorance>confusion>control>chaos routine.

Toothcake > bbblackwell
Whilst I am in agreement, there is much opinion at play about the various causal relata. Nor is cause & effect really a fact in the sense you seem to be thinking it is. Its’ existence is counter-arguable—given the Problem of Induction is introduced. But really, the issue is regarding causes & effects as spatio-temporal or as abstract.

For instance: “I was stabbed in alley-way,” contrasted with “the fact is I was stabbed in an alley-way.” It is the case that these are separate claims with regards to cause & effect. One does not include cause & effect in the same way. One is abstract; the other is spatio-temporal. In this context, it seems a semantic distinction at best. In politics, though, the claims can become quite different.

“The U.S.A. was attacked at Pearl Harbor.”
“The Japanese Empire attacked the U.S.A.”

This is a good illustration of how cause & effect can be deployed as a sort of argument—even regarding the same causes & events—to drastically change the narrative; that is, the knowledge-claim being made has been changed, the grammar, what the intended recipient will deduce from the argument etc. I’m not getting at anything profound or special, here. It’s just something to be on the look-out for especially in political argumentation.

bbblackwell > Toothcake
Causation always carries the troublesome property of infinite regression, but regarding morality, it is clear that rape, for instance, creates an instance of slavery (the person’s consent is overridden by the demand of the immoral actor). This is the only cause-and-effect we need to consider to understand morality. External control IS slavery. There’s no wiggle-room to obfuscate the causal relationship.

Toothcake
Oh I completely agree, I’m just saying that in politics, this will always be obfuscated.

bbblackwell > Toothcake
Good Lord, yes. Narrow is the way, as they say, and we have to be very rigid in our thinking, It’s a dangerous business going out of your door, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you’ll be swept off to.

Toothcake
It’s actually a very fun exercise: keep the metaphysics of Cause & Effect in mind, and then listen to any politician speak.

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