Many on the Left seem to have no regard for Natural Rights - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15306170
I was reading an article from Politico, one of those typical Leftist screeds against "Christian Nationalism" in politics. But that's not what this thread is about.

In the article, I saw something that stood out as very alarming to me.

The relevant paragraph in the article says:

"In 2019, Trump’s then-secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, set up a federal commission to define human rights based on the precepts Vought describes, specifically 'natural law and natural rights.' Natural law is the belief that there are universal rules derived from God that can't be superseded by government or judges. While it is a core pillar of Catholicism, in recent decades it’s been used to oppose abortion, LGBTQ+ rights and contraception."

Trump allies prepare to infuse 'Christian nationalism' in second administration, by Alexander Ward and Heidi Przybyla, Politico, February 20, 2024

So not only are they attacking what they see as "Christian Nationalism", but they also seem lumping together "natural rights" with that.

Do these political writers have any idea what "natural rights" actually are?

If they ever took a civics class, they would have to know.

They bring up "natural rights" and then treat it with contempt alongside with the Christianity that is the main subject the article is complaining about. It seems they either do not know what "natural rights" are (which in itself is very worrying), or they do know what the philosophy of natural rights are but despise it (even more concerning).

Natural rights, for any who may not know, is a set of moral standards and rights which it is believed are self-evident, that most all people can know is true and correct. (Or in some cases can use logic to derive offshoot conclusions from that)

For example, it is wrong to murder another person, or to steal. That is very basic natural rights.

The idea of natural rights was important to the founding of the United States. If you take any civics class, they will probably refer to John Locke, and how the idea of natural rights was expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and set the foundation for democracy.

It seems perhaps many on the Left are annoyed at the idea of natural rights, because it can interfere with what they want government to do to implement their policies. In the mentality of many on the Left, the ideal government is all-wise and should be given all power. Only then can it solve all the problems. If there are certain things that government is not allowed to do, it is seen as an impediment.

This of course ignores the crucial role that the philosophy of natural rights has played in bringing about democracy and establishing human rights and individual rights. But now the Left seems to just take all of those things for granted. Maybe natural rights was useful for bringing about that progress, they might argue, but now the society should move beyond that and progress.

But if you throw out natural rights, you are stuck with moral relativism, where anything goes. This seems to be the dictum of the Left, any sacrifice is justified for the supposed better good of the collective.
For someone who is Libertarian, this is deeply problematic.

It is true there is a connection to God in the philosophy of natural rights, but this is not completely so. There are plenty of atheists who would support the idea of "natural rights". And many of the U.S. founders who believed in natural rights had a view of God that fit more into what is called "deism", a more distant and impersonal God, less involved in the personal affairs of men, certainly a much less religious concept of God. They could claim "natural rights" ultimately came from God, but it was mostly a much more philosophical view rather than an article of religious faith.

To automatically equate the idea of "natural rights" to religion shows a deep ignorance, or even a disingenuous intellectual assessment. Natural rights is really more a philosophy, that if all human beings were created by God, then all human beings have inherent worth. And furthermore that human beings do not have the right to trespass upon the natural rights of another human being. That is hardly an idea that is "religious" or wholly confined to Christianity.


I've always taken the concept of "Natural Rights" for granted, as if it is obvious and self-evident. But could it be that it's a completely foreign and unknown idea to many other people?
#15306171
Puffer Fish wrote:I've always taken the concept of "Natural Rights" for granted, as if it is obvious and self-evident.

It's not 'natural' nor self-evident. I suggest you read Bentham. In Anarchical Fallacies; being an examination of the Declaration of Rights issued during the French Revolution, the English utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham shows that the concept of natural rights is, obviously, nonsense and that to claim rights not prescribed in the laws of the state is 'nonsense on stilts.'


:lol:
#15306173
Puffer Fish wrote:Do these political writers have any idea what "natural rights" actually are?

If they ever took a civics class, they would have to know.

They bring up "natural rights" and then treat it with contempt

Well I took classes in British Constitution, passed an O'level in it. Natural rights were never mentioned in it. So I guess you mean an American civics class. Up until I was 13, my parents forced me to go Church or Sunday School, at which point I was able to weedle out of it. From the age of 5, I mostly chose to Church and heard the adult version, as Church was more distant. Again I don't remember anyone saying anything about natural rights, but they did mention a concept called "sin".

Now the funny thing was, from junior school (7-11), maybe earlier, my teachers reached the conclusion that I was exceptionally intelligent, really exceptionally intelligent. Yet while all the other kids and adults seemed to understand what sin was. I didn't. I later came to realise that not understanding things could be a mark of high intelligence. I didn't understand sin because it was an empty signifier.

Natural rights, for any who may not know, is a set of moral standards and rights which it is believed are self-evident, that most all people can know is true and correct. (Or in some cases can use logic to derive offshoot conclusions from that)

For example, it is wrong to murder another person, or to steal. That is very basic natural rights.

Note the illogic of what you've just said here. Note how you've failed to enumerate a single natural right. Murder and stealing are not rights, but in the Christian world view fall into the category of sins. What is murder? Murder loosely speaking is the wrongful killing of a human being. for the sake of this argument we'll leave aside the complications of defining what "killing" is and what a "human being is". Murder is wrong, because wrongness is an essential part of its definition. Saying "murder is wrong" is merly saying "if A, then A". you've said nothing. Similarly saying "stealing is wrong" is saying nothing because again wrongness is an essential part of the definition of the term stealing.

The idea of natural rights was important to the founding of the United States.

Yes because the founders were con men, who essentially wanted to retain the whole social and moral structure of European and in particularly British Christendom, while taking out the bits, monarchy, aristocracy and Church of England privilege that they didn't personally benefit from. None of the founders were Royals, Bishops or had aristocratic privileges.
#15306260
Rejection of natural rights is the common thing among authoritarians across political spectrum.

Vladimir Putin also rejects natural rights as Biden rejects it. Stalin and Hitler also rejected it.

ingliz wrote:It's not 'natural' nor self-evident. I suggest you read Bentham. In Anarchical Fallacies; being an examination of the Declaration of Rights issued during the French Revolution, the English utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham shows that the concept of natural rights is, obviously, nonsense and that to claim rights not prescribed in the laws of the state is 'nonsense on stilts.'.

Jeremy Bentham's views on natural rights was the difference between liberals in Europe and libertarians in America. But today all classical liberals and libertarians believe in natural rights.
#15306313
MistyTiger wrote:The OP does not distinguish between a natural right and a positive or jural right. A natural right is mainly discussed in philosophy and has no significance in government. John Locke writes about natural rights. A positive right is recognized by the government and has legal standing and significance.

I very much disagree. Natural rights are (or can be) the basis for which laws exist, and even guide judges in how to enforce existing laws.

The very idea that we assume someone is "guilty", in the traditional understanding, assumes natural rights.

You bringing up "positive rights" seems to be confusing, as if you might be using the terminology with a different meaning than what I was referring to.

The first "rights" that government recognized when passing laws, were negative rights. You have the right not to be murdered, you have the right for others not to steal from you, et cetera.
#15306523
Puffer Fish wrote:I very much disagree. Natural rights are (or can be) the basis for which laws exist, and even guide judges in how to enforce existing laws.

The very idea that we assume someone is "guilty", in the traditional understanding, assumes natural rights.

You bringing up "positive rights" seems to be confusing, as if you might be using the terminology with a different meaning than what I was referring to.

The first "rights" that government recognized when passing laws, were negative rights. You have the right not to be murdered, you have the right for others not to steal from you, et cetera.


It is confusing to you because you clearly did not read articles about natural rights versus positive rights. I found the terms during a quick Google search, since I do not read about legal stuff as much as I once did.

Judges refer to existing legislation and precedents. It is unusual for them to reference natural rights in a public court proceeding.

I saw no mention of negative rights. It is typical of you to try to bring in more stuff to try to distract the one who disagrees with you.
#15306537
The idea of natural law is a concept intended to call into question the validity of certain prevailing statutes , in the interest of fairness. https://iep.utm.edu/legal-va/ , https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-law-theories/

For as it has been stated Image

The Christian intellectual , C.S. Lewis , explains what natural law is , in the recording below . But as a practical matter , the powers that be , by their own collective might , determine what is right . And natural law is simply that which dissidents and insurgents invoke to justify their having a right of revolution , rightly or wrongly .

#15306543
wat0n wrote:Natural law is just an aspiration, not an actual law.

How can natural law be an ‘aspiration’? Natural law, assuming it exists, would be the bedrock of all human law, having been established from the creation of the world (or at least from the emergence of life itself). That’s not an ‘aspiration’, it’s a foundation. :eh:
#15306544
Potemkin wrote:How can natural law be an ‘aspiration’? Natural law, assuming it exists, would be the bedrock of all human law, having been established from the creation of the world (or at least from the emergence of life itself). That’s not an ‘aspiration’, it’s a foundation. :eh:


It's not that, though.

Regardless of how they call it, it is effectively an aspiration. Not a bad thing, by the way, but if it was the bedrock of all human law we'd have far less ideological conflict than we actually do.
#15306546
wat0n wrote:It's not that, though.

Regardless of how they call it, it is effectively an aspiration. Not a bad thing, by the way, but if it was the bedrock of all human law we'd have far less ideological conflict than we actually do.

Then it’s not ‘natural’ law, but made-up law, like any other human law. The whole point about ‘natural law’ is that it supposedly precedes human law.
#15306550
wat0n wrote:Let me fix it for you.

"Then it's not natural 'law', but a made-up law like any other human law."

As David Hume pointed out, @wat0n, one cannot derive an ought from an is.
#15306556
Puffer Fish wrote:
Do these political writers have any idea what "natural rights" actually are?



Sigh.

The real question is do you know.

The Founding Fathers created a secular government. What the wacko Right has been trying to do is to turn us into a sectarian government.

The wars between Protestants and Catholics were recent history for them. They wanted no part of it.

So when Pompeo started talking, he was trying to kill democracy.

But thanks for the laugh. Seriously, I rarely laugh out loud before 6 AM, but you pulled it off again.
#15306604
wat0n wrote:I know. It's why I said one should interpret those claims of "natural law" as an "ought", even if some try to dress it as an "is".

This is the charitable interpretation, at least.

I prefer the uncharitable interpretation - it’s a load of old cobblers, like most of the pseudo ‘philosophy’ spouted by Libertarians. This sort of nonsense was refuted back in the eighteenth century. :roll:
#15306607
Potemkin wrote:I prefer the uncharitable interpretation - it’s a load of old cobblers, like most of the pseudo ‘philosophy’ spouted by Libertarians. This sort of nonsense was refuted back in the eighteenth century. :roll:


Why state the obvious eh? They want to be True Believers. :lol: :D
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