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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:45 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
Now no one is "unfree:" everyone is free and so freedom is ill-defined. It comes to mean ridiculous things like never ever wearing a mask, or the right to carry any kind of gun anywhere any time.

What better time than now to re-examine what freedom means, then? What I find telling is that those who claim their rights the loudest conveniently leave personal responsibility and social consideration out of it. That's not how I was brought up, and it baffles me to no end. That's no direction for a population to go if it dares have the hubris to call itself a "society".

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:00 pm 
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an seanduine wrote:
Martin Luther King was not rich. He had the temerity to ask that our creed actually be lived out. His dream is still alive.

And of course I was focusing on the founding fathers, so you raise a good point. It ain't all rich folks, especially today, and the good news is that the disenfranchised now have the power to persuade for change in a way that even the charismatic never would have had before. Dr. King was insisting on, again, equality under the law; we can say that bigotry is a separate issue, but it refuses to stay so nicely in its bell jar. When it comes to inequality under the law, systemic racism and social prejudice cannot be separated from it. No one can prove otherwise.

I like white privilege. I like it so much that I think everyone should have it.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:57 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
PB+J wrote:
Now no one is "unfree:" everyone is free and so freedom is ill-defined. It comes to mean ridiculous things like never ever wearing a mask, or the right to carry any kind of gun anywhere any time.

What better time than now to re-examine what freedom means, then? What I find telling is that those who claim their rights the loudest conveniently leave personal responsibility and social consideration out of it. That's not how I was brought up, and it baffles me to no end. That's no direction for a population to go if it dares have the hubris to call itself a "society".



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:05 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:45 pm 
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Freedom is not an absolute. Or if it is then it is unattainable (you are subject to gravity are you not?). Freedom is really a relative. Freedom from this, freedom to do that.

If someone is trying to sell you freedom as an absolute then you are being misled - it is usually about their freedom to do something that you might not agree with. Easiest way to deal with this is ask what they mean by 'freedom'. What will I be able to do under this freedom that I cannot do now? What will you be able to do under this freedom that you cannot do now?

(Equality is another thing entirely. I certainly believe that all people should be treated equally. I do not agree with inalienable rights - rights are created by society as part of a social compact).

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:32 am 
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DrPhill wrote:
I do not agree with inalienable rights - rights are created by society as part of a social compact).
I think that once the term is used in a legal document that is accepted by a society then it does not matter, for practical purposes, whether they are 'natural rights' or not and other, legal and useful, meanings of 'inalienable' rights come into play. Created by society as part of a social compact

An interesting discussion to this bystander.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:19 pm 
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david_h wrote:
DrPhill wrote:
I do not agree with inalienable rights - rights are created by society as part of a social compact).
I think that once the term is used in a legal document that is accepted by a society then it does not matter, for practical purposes, whether they are 'natural rights' or not and other, legal and useful, meanings of 'inalienable' rights come into play. Created by society as part of a social compact

An interesting discussion to this bystander.

In this context, to me "inalienable" has always very much implied a social compact from the outset, so on that basis I don't have any problem with the word. It's when people put it in a vacuum that we get into trouble.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:17 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
It's when people put it in a vacuum that we get into trouble.

Yeah. That must really suck.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:40 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
It's when people put it in a vacuum that we get into trouble.

Yeah. That must really suck.

And I hate vacuum cleaner jokes for the same reason. :wink:

Finally found a good one, though: Why don't Zen monks vacuum corners? Because they have no attachments.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:16 pm 
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"Inalienable rights" are not an absurd proposition. They're in the Declaration of Independence for good reason. I often ask first year students "what gives you the right to express your opinion? You've done little in your short life; acquired no property, and little education. What give lowly YOU the right to express your opinion compared to ME, the property owning holder of advanced degrees? I say you should not be allowed to vote until you meet the standards set by men like me."

The answer, which they eventually get to, is they have a right to an opinion because they are by nature opinion-having animals. A tyrant can gag them, silence them, but they will still have the opinions: their opinions are inalienable. I can prevent them from from voicing the opinions, but that would be tyranny. They will still have the opinions; they are opinion-bearing creatures by nature: they have a natural right to what they cannot NOT have, opinions.

Thus an inalienable right to free speech is advanced, and pretty cleverly I say, a powerful claim good enough to give the boot to King George.

Of course the problem with constructing rights this way is fairly clear: does a cow have an opinion? If so, what allows us to stifle the cow's expression of that opinion? The answer is the cow has a fundamentally different nature, a different "being," and thus different rights. Men and women have a different nature, a different being, and so therefore they must be entitled to different rights. So too Africans: nature made them different, therefore they must have different rights. A lively discussion often results about natural vs contractual rights.

But inalienable rights are IMHO a powerful idea: no idea of rights is perfect


Last edited by PB+J on Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 6:17 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
Of course the problem with constructing rights this way is fairly clear: does a cow have an opinion? If so, what allows us to stifle the cow's expression of that opinion? The answer is the cow has a fundamentally different nature, a different "being," and thus different rights. [and on to the rest of the proposed argument]

I would instead say that the convenient answer is the cow has a fundamentally different nature - and so on, and so forth to its distasteful conclusion. In according rights, citing fundamental natures goes down a fallacious road from the very start, because we cannot really prove that a cow has a fundamentally different nature from that of a human; how are we to define "nature" in the first place? And accordingly, how do we dare to legislate based on what we cannot define? One sure marker that we can't define it is the very fact that there will be no universal consensus on how to define "nature", and another is that we can't even say we're right, because we don't know. We can only say for sure that a cow is bound by its condition of being a cow. If that is how we are to define "fundamental nature", I'm not buying it; the word "nature" implies we know the cow's inner life, and we most decidedly do not. To suggest otherwise is playing God, to put it bluntly. We may infer, and might even do so correctly without fail, but the knowledge is always going to be incomplete, so "nature" is therefore invalid as a stand-alone argument, never mind as it applies to what rights a cow, or anyone else, deserves.

We may speak in terms of something's nature as a provisional expedient, and sometimes this word for tendencies can be useful (for example, we can attribute a domestic cat's instinct for the hunt to feline nature), but as with any other mental construct, there's always going to be its disproof lurking in the wings (some domestic cats are in fact not interested in hunting at all; suddenly, we must dismantle "feline nature" and rethink it). If we issue rights based on a being's imagined "fundamental nature", that's just an excuse not to think beyond what's convenient, and tyranny lies not far behind.

If we are to use any living being to our advantage - cows for meat, for example - then it's better we don't rationalize it with fantasies, but rather have the spine to own our very answerable part in the equation. And this is from someone who's still a meat eater, just so's you know.

PB+J wrote:
But inalienable rights are IMHO a powerful idea: no idea of rights is perfect

Unquestionably, and unquestionably.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 3:16 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
...how do we dare to legislate based on what we cannot define? One sure marker that we can't define it is the very fact that there will be no universal consensus on how to define "nature", and another is that we can't even say we're right, because we don't know.
In the original context of PB+J's post, inalienable rights and equality rather than the cow, I think it is "how did they dare". Didn't they dare by saying "We hold these truths to be self-evident" which allows that other people might not so it needed to be said? Contrast this to "endowed by their Creator" where - for them in their time and King George - there being a creator was unquestionable (so a consensus on how to define "nature" was not an issue).


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:57 am 
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While we're on the subject of definitions ... I think we can agree on a definition of "life", and we can probably be comfortable leaving the definition of "happiness" up to the person pursuing it, but things get really thorny when we try to define "liberty". A woman was recently turned away from a Toronto hospital because she claimed the "freedom" to not wear a face mask: Woman roasted on social media after refusing to wear mask in Toronto hospital.

In Canada, the corresponding litany is, "Peace, order, and good government." We're having our own challenges agreeing on what this means, ... and applying it equally for everybody.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 8:10 am 
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Well, she was/is free not to wear a face mask, just not in the hospital - or anywhere else that may deem them to be necessary - it is her choice - but if she wants to go where the policy is to wear them, then that is what she will have to do, else not be let in - as in the above example - no one has taken her freedom to not wear a mask away. :P :D

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:09 pm 
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fatmac wrote:
Well, she was/is free not to wear a face mask, just not in the hospital - or anywhere else that may deem them to be necessary - it is her choice - but if she wants to go where the policy is to wear them, then that is what she will have to do, else not be let in - as in the above example - no one has taken her freedom to not wear a mask away. :P :D

Exactly so, but I think the real issue, as one comment framed it, is the attitude of "I don't care about you or anyone else, but you better care about me." The spirit of the issue, not its letter, is what forces our attention.

One of the doubtful advantages of large societies is that an individual's sense of community is optional, so it should come as no surprise that ideas such as "Your rights end where mine begin" become less and less clear to the point where one person's interpretation of its spirit can be quite the opposite of mine.

It's all very high-minded and noble of me to call for a better sense of community, and of course I have no choice but to continue to do so, but I still have to ask myself: Are even hordes of similar calls really going to bring back such a horse long gone from the barn? Consider this: In our society, sense of community isn't a priority, and we learn this from the cradle.

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