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ARE WE ENDOWED WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS?

 
 
Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 08:39 am
I believe people are born into this world with all the rights to freedom, free thinking, the right to choose, the right to proceed through life by their own will, etc.

I believe any curtailment of these rights are imposed by others or societal law.
0 Replies
 
BoGoWo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 08:48 am
Gee Sofia ( i love your new "sex kitten on wheels" Shocked );

i hate it when i disagree with you.......

so i won't; actually while i do agree, somewhat, that is a very idealistic concept, and , i'm afraid totally impractical; and fully, and completely abused in almost every niche on this planet.

as a starting point however it has great appeal to anyone who can think of anyone beyond themselves.

but i will still insist on pushing the responsibility aspect!
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 09:06 am
I think my belief sort of piggybacks perception's comment about the Declaration. The belief that I am a free agent is self-evident to me. It just may take time and endless struggle to prove it to society. I may never prove it, but it is always a part of me.

To me, 'inalienable' speaks to the inner knowledge that I am free and equal. No one can take that from me. When a society or individual enslaves or wrongly imprisons me--he may think I have been separated from my inalienable rights...but I still possess those rights, they have just been ignored.

My rights to freedom are inalienable. My rights to freedom and self-determination are just as much a part of me as my soul, whether they are heeded by others or not.
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 09:15 am
Ditto on the "Sex kitten" Wow. I may be old but not THAT old.

I agree with BGW--I think: "Rights" only become meaningful when a society takes the responsibility to define those rights and then establish their sanctity in a form that those citizens are willing to fight and die for.

We're talking mostly of the good ole USA and other gov'ts run by and for the people.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 09:42 am
I guess I see it differently.

I always believed that the framers were constructing 'their idealized world', and that their take on unalienable rights was universally held that all people are created equal with certain rights--and here, in our country, we were committing to recognising and acting on those freedoms and rights.

I guess 'rights' don't have to be 'given', where I'm concerned.

If I didn't believe this, would I have treated blacks in a 'less than' fashion before Civil Rights? When visited a brutal society, would I then treat those citizens with less dignity? Not if I believe that due to their status as living humans, they possessed the same unalienable rights as I do--no matter what laws they live by.

Without the innate knowledge of unalienable rights, would anyone practice civil disobedience, pushing for societal acknowledgement of the rights possessed, but not recognised?

I suppose I'm off on a tangent. The Declaration, unalienable rights and such seem to mean something far different to me. I guess it does seem idealistic. The concept, to me, IS idealistic, hence my devotion to the document, the founding principles of this country, and our continuing progress.
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 09:56 am
Sofia

This is one of those subjects where idealism is certainly warranted and to be given serious consideration. I speak only from a pragmatic view point because I confess to being one of those rigid thinkers which abhors ambiguity and also a reductionist that must attempt to place every concept into the narrowest context. I must believe that if there is some concept that one is willing to defend to the death then it must be crystal clear. Freedom and the right to pursue happiness unobstructed by oppression and tyranny is such a concept.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 10:30 am
perception wrote:
"Rights" only become meaningful when a society takes the responsibility to define those rights and then establish their sanctity in a form that those citizens are willing to fight and die for.

If Sofia promises not to tell anyone on the "Replace Bush" thread, I'll confess that I agree with her and disagree with you. The instinct to fight for some basic rights, and to respect the respective rights of others, is deeply hardwired into our brains and has probably been established pretty far back in evolution. To see just how far back, consider that even some animal species such as dogs fight for their life, liberty and property. They don't have the cognitive abilites they would need to define them as rights in a legal sense, but when other animals intrude on them, they get pissed and fight back. Other individuals of the same species usually respect those "rights" not because there is a society to "establish their sanctity", but because they know instinctively that the offended individual will fight back and that this might cause more trouble than it's worth. Human-made laws are just thin legal wrappers around our crude, deep-seated animal instincts in this matter.

Maybe Thomas Jefferson took a bit of poetic license when he wrote that passage in the Declaration of Independence, but I think people miss the point when they reject it on a rigorous, literal interpretation.

-- Thomas

PS: Regarding the religious undercurrents in the Declaration that some have detected in this thread, I'd like to say that I'm really impressed by the way the founding fathers kept god out of the picture. They say "Endowed by their creator". You are free to believe this creator is god, but it doesn't say "Endowed by god". If you happen to believe that humans evolved according to the laws of nature, it is consistent with the Declaration to believe we were endowed with these rights "by nature". Which is consistent with the fact that many scholars of law talk about these very basic rights as "natural rights"
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 10:46 am
<our secret> Very Happy
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perception
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 11:03 am
Thomas

Thanks for the "Darwinian" insight ---- that explains everything.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 11:13 am
Sofia's sexy avatars are always a pleasure...

The concept of 'Rights' in general, is a project of the needy, and a product of our basest instincts. Evolution....that's a whole other kettle of fish.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 12:27 pm
No rights are unalienable. Frank already posted the gist of what I would have said.

The only thing I would add is that I would prefer to live in a society that ACTS AS IF basic rights are unalienable, rather than that of the signees of the DofI, in which lip service was paid to the concept of unalienable rights while denying them to slaves and women.

Given the plethora of laws against various ways in which people pursue happiness, it would seem that this right is still not unalienable.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 12:45 pm
Sofia wrote:
I believe people are born into this world with all the rights to freedom, free thinking, the right to choose, the right to proceed through life by their own will, etc.

I believe any curtailment of these rights are imposed by others or societal law.


That certainly could be argued -- and argued logically.

I still don't know if that answers the question, though, about whether or not the rights you assert we are born with -- are endowed or not.

And even if your notion of rights being something we are born with is correct -- the question that would soon develop is -- and how do we get as close to possible to ensuring those rights.

Whether a case can be made that we are born with the rights or not -- the case for "we have only the rights we demand or that others have demanded for us" still seems to be operational.

(I suspect the drafters of the Declaration felt that way also, since they follow up their "we are endowed" notion with "That to secure these rights..."

I see no rights (whether endowed or not endowed but simply demanded) as unalienable -- and saying, as you (Sofia) do later, that...

[When a society or individual enslaves or wrongly imprisons me--he may think I have been separated from my inalienable rights...but I still possess those rights, they have just been ignored.[/quote]...

...leaves lots of questions in that regard.

Suppose your "unalienable right" to freedom were taken from you by the state "rightly" rather than "wrongly?" Suppose you commit murder -- and the state rightly alienates you from the right to liberty? Are you any less alienated from your liberty?

Your use of the word "wrongly" in your sentence really didn't do the job of explaining why you think the right is unalienable.

It is my opinion that all rights are alienable.

In fact, the right of people to be free is probably alienated as much and as often as anything else on this planet.

The right to life is alienable -- and in the United States, that is not hard to show.

BOTTOM LINE: Probably it makes sense to suppose every human is born free and has the "right" to do anything he or she decides to do. Society, in order to function, curtails rights -- left and right!

Humans have the "right" to demand that their government not curtail certain rights -- and often that is what humans do. (And of course, the rights won by these demands are passed down to future generations -- sometimes to be lost!)

But when everything has been counted and considered -- the only rights humans have are those that have been demanded.

And there certainly is not much, other than mythology, to support the contention that somehow -- some THING -- endowed us with those rights.

Thomas' contention that there might be some ambiguity of intent because of the use of the word "creator" is, in my opinion, specious. For one thing, they wrote Creator (capital "C") not "creator" -- and capital "C" Creator had (and still has) a specific meaning.

They meant God.

In any case, Ican is not asking if we think God endows the rights. He is asking if we think we have rights that have been endowed -- who or what endowed them.
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 12:59 pm
Okay, I must also add, Sofia's new signature is funny as hell....Laughing

Now about my belief in aliens...
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 01:39 pm
Frank Apisa wrote:
Thomas' contention that there might be some ambiguity of intent because of the use of the word "creator" is, in my opinion, specious. For one thing, they wrote Creator (capital "C") not "creator" -- and capital "C" Creator had (and still has) a specific meaning.

You are entitled to your opinion of course, and it's even possible that you're right. But when you look at Thomas Jefferson's spelling choices, they don't provide much support for your opinion, assuming the Library of Congress reproduced them correctly. It seems that Jefferson capitalized allmost all nouns, with no obvious logic underlying the exceptions. True, he capitalized potentially sacral nouns too, but I don't see how that means anything.

"WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. " And so forth.

Frank Apisa wrote:
In any case, Ican is not asking if we think God endows the rights. He is asking if we think we have rights that have been endowed -- who or what endowed them.

For what it's worth, our creator -- natural evolution -- has produced wolves who, when defeated in a fight, present their carotid artery to the victor for a letal bite as a gesture of defeat. It has also produced wolf victors who consistently refrain from taking what looks like an obvious offer by the rival to kill him. Even though wolves can't have a legal system with formal rights, they act as if they respect each other's right to live, and bet their lives on their fellow wolves respecting it. To the extent that laws codify our natural instincts about how to treat one another, it makes sense to me to assume that our creator -- nature -- endowed us with certain rights with regard to each other. And it also makes sense to me that philosophers of law refer to these rights as natural rights.

-- Thomas
0 Replies
 
Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 02:22 pm
Thank you, cav Very Happy

Responding to Frank's comment--

I see no rights (whether endowed or not endowed but simply demanded) as unalienable -- and saying, as you (Sofia) do later, that...

[When a society or individual enslaves or wrongly imprisons me--he may think I have been separated from my inalienable rights...but I still possess those rights, they have just been ignored.[/quote]...

...leaves lots of questions in that regard.

Suppose your "unalienable right" to freedom were taken from you by the state "rightly" rather than "wrongly?" Suppose you commit murder -- and the state rightly alienates you from the right to liberty? Are you any less alienated from your liberty?
------------
For me, the answer is in the statement--we are endowed with certain inalienable rights--

inalienable-- non-transferrable--that which cannot rightfully be taken away. I'm sure I'll be stormed with strong arguments about my nitpicking,... but when I do something wrong, I am guilty. I feel guilty, and in some cases believe I have diminished my rights, to an extent, because of my behavior.

We are endowed, by creation or Creator, with these rights. We start off on a level playing field. If we commit a crime, we give away certain rights. Our rights can't be bought from us, taken from us arbitrarily--but we can abdicate certain rights through our behavior.

Frank said--Your use of the word "wrongly" in your sentence really didn't do the job of explaining why you think the right is unalienable.
------------
We do NOT have the unalienable right to murder, theft and other crimes against humanity. It is my view that when we commit these behaviors, our rights have not been alienated from us, but we have chosen to give them up. They are ours to hold on to, or gamble away.

Inalienable focuses on not being separated by force or some outside interference. Gambling with your freedom by committing a crime is on you. IMHO.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 02:42 pm
Thomas

I note your exception -- and your comments regarding the spelling habits of Thomas Jefferson.

Perhaps he did use capitalization indiscriminately -- but the fact of the matter is that Creator with a capital "C" did have -- and still has -- a specific meaning.

Jefferson was a deist -- damn near an atheist at times -- so you may be right that he meant to use the word to indicate Nature.

But I suggest that there is a more compelling argument to be made that he truly meant a Deity with his use of that word.

As I mentioned earlier -- the use of the notion of special endowment of rights from God could easily have been occasioned by a desire to provide a counterfoil to the notion of the Divine rights of Kings. This was, after all, a series of arguments meant for a King - George III.

Jefferson might very well have been saying: If you assert a divine right to rule us -- we certainly can assert a divine right to unalienable rights -- that trump your rights.

No way of knowing -- and I agree with you, each of us to our own opinions.

But here is something for speculation and discussion -- prefaced by an observation I want to make about some of your contentions.

Preface: Twice you asserted that our creator is nature (or natural evolution).
"For what it's worth, our creator -- natural evolution..." and "...that our creator -- nature...".

My guess is that is not something you KNOW for certain, but is just a guess or belief. Am I correct on that? Do you allow for the possibility that there is a God -- or is that not a possibility?

End of Preface.

How do you suppose Nature, if that is what IS, endows us with certain unalienable rights? And do you suppose that those rights include the three mentioned in the Declaration?

One of the last things I see Nature endowing us with is "life." And most assuredly, not as an unalienable right.

Nature guarantees life is not unalienable - and seems less inclined to assure us of a right to life than to assure us that if caught, we will be eaten. Nature, or so it seems to me, appears to delight in that.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 02:44 pm
Sofia wrote:
Thank you, cav Very Happy

Responding to Frank's comment--

Quote:
I see no rights (whether endowed or not endowed but simply demanded) as unalienable -- and saying, as you (Sofia) do later, that...

[When a society or individual enslaves or wrongly imprisons me--he may think I have been separated from my inalienable rights...but I still possess those rights, they have just been ignored.
...

...leaves lots of questions in that regard.

Suppose your "unalienable right" to freedom were taken from you by the state "rightly" rather than "wrongly?" Suppose you commit murder -- and the state rightly alienates you from the right to liberty? Are you any less alienated from your liberty?
------------
For me, the answer is in the statement--we are endowed with certain inalienable rights--

inalienable-- non-transferrable--that which cannot rightfully be taken away. I'm sure I'll be stormed with strong arguments about my nitpicking,... but when I do something wrong, I am guilty. I feel guilty, and in some cases believe I have diminished my rights, to an extent, because of my behavior.

We are endowed, by creation or Creator, with these rights. We start off on a level playing field. If we commit a crime, we give away certain rights. Our rights can't be bought from us, taken from us arbitrarily--but we can abdicate certain rights through our behavior.

Frank said--Your use of the word "wrongly" in your sentence really didn't do the job of explaining why you think the right is unalienable.
------------
We do NOT have the unalienable right to murder, theft and other crimes against humanity. It is my view that when we commit these behaviors, our rights have not been alienated from us, but we have chosen to give them up. They are ours to hold on to, or gamble away.

Inalienable focuses on not being separated by force or some outside interference. Gambling with your freedom by committing a crime is on you. IMHO.



Great argument. BUT...

...the dictionary defines inalienable as: incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred.

According to the dictionary -- one cannot surrender or give up an inalienable right.

So any rights that can be given up -- are not inalienable.
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 02:45 pm
Sofia on skates, and with a sense of humour <drools>

Oops, was I dreaming again? Okay, back on topic..."rights" as I see them, are a human concept. So is "not having rights." I think it is high time we look beyond this concept and move towards "basic universal morality", but when it comes to that concept, there are still too many monkeys out there, hence our need for paper codifying law, morality and religion. I am still willing to concede to necessary evils, however. Wink
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 03:09 pm
cavfancier wrote:
Sofia on skates, and with a sense of humour <drools>

Oops, was I dreaming again? Okay, back on topic..."rights" as I see them, are a human concept. So is "not having rights." I think it is high time we look beyond this concept and move towards "basic universal morality", but when it comes to that concept, there are still too many monkeys out there, hence our need for paper codifying law, morality and religion. I am still willing to concede to necessary evils, however. Wink


I'm totally willing to do that, but I suspect Ican would not be.

Ican has a point to make here. This is not an idle question for him.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Aug, 2003 03:20 pm
I don't know about US-American law that much, but European (Roman) law explicite takes away your rights = you don't give them up.
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