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Default 90 percent of the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the US

April 6th, 2009, 14:44
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I have a huge problem with the whole concept of "natural rights" anyway. It has the same problem as any appeal to the "natural" — it brooks no argument, and leaves no way to test the assertion. Appeals to "nature have been (and in some cases are) used to defend all kinds of things. Slavery, not allowing women the vote or the right to own and dispose of property, criminalizing gays, what have you. IMO if a right is important enough to defend, it should be pretty easy to support with reasoned argument, without appeals to constructs like "natural law."
Yup. It's why I don't think natural rights exist. Where do they come from? If they are natural, why aren't they self-evident? Why can't we agree on what they are?
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April 6th, 2009, 15:05
I actually like the wording in certain historical documents: "we hold these rights to be self-evident…" (emphasis mine).

That's an honest assertion — a statement of principles, not an assertion that said principles are universally and objectively valid for everyone, everywhere. Might seem like a small distinction, but IMO it's a crucial one. They weren't dummies, those Deist coots…
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April 6th, 2009, 15:16
http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm

"Truths". We'll chalk that one up to translation.

Point still stands, though.

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April 6th, 2009, 15:30
Right, truths. Serves me right for attempting to quote from memory. Thanks.
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April 6th, 2009, 17:48
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
I have a huge problem with the whole concept of "natural rights" anyway. It has the same problem as any appeal to the "natural" — it brooks no argument, and leaves no way to test the assertion. Appeals to "nature have been (and in some cases are) used to defend all kinds of things. Slavery, not allowing women the vote or the right to own and dispose of property, criminalizing gays, what have you. IMO if a right is important enough to defend, it should be pretty easy to support with reasoned argument, without appeals to constructs like "natural law."
That depends on your (as in, the person making this argument) definition of 'natural'. There are basicly two categories of pepole who talk about natural rights. The first category are pepole who are acually acually interested in finding some kind of objective set of rights. They draw these rights from this thing called "the natural state". The natural state is a state where we don't have any rights. In other words everyone can do whatever they want (so, "the natural state" is basicly a fancy name for anarchy). What does life look like in this state? Well (simplified), we'll have rape, murder, pepole hitting other pepole on the mouth etc. It'll be chaos and very few pepole will be able to make a decent living in this society. Therefore we add rights, to structure things. These rights are the natural rights.

The other category are pepole who simply simply want to win debates. They talk about these natural rights that no one can change and then claim that these rights are the ones they prefer. Not too many pepole fall in the first category.

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April 6th, 2009, 19:55
Originally Posted by Ubereil View Post
That depends on your (as in, the person making this argument) definition of 'natural'. There are basicly two categories of pepole who talk about natural rights. The first category are pepole who are acually acually interested in finding some kind of objective set of rights. They draw these rights from this thing called "the natural state". The natural state is a state where we don't have any rights. In other words everyone can do whatever they want (so, "the natural state" is basicly a fancy name for anarchy). What does life look like in this state? Well (simplified), we'll have rape, murder, pepole hitting other pepole on the mouth etc. It'll be chaos and very few pepole will be able to make a decent living in this society. Therefore we add rights, to structure things. These rights are the natural rights.

The other category are pepole who simply simply want to win debates. They talk about these natural rights that no one can change and then claim that these rights are the ones they prefer. Not too many pepole fall in the first category.

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Well, as a devout follower of Thomas Hobbes, I agree with your description of the state of nature, but I'm sure some of the Locke-ian followers here would disagree.

But in terms of natural 'rights' - well, I like how Hobbes defined natural rights/natural laws. If anyone is *really* that interested I'll post the super-long description/list of them.
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April 6th, 2009, 20:00
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
Yup. It's why I don't think natural rights exist. Where do they come from? If they are natural, why aren't they self-evident? Why can't we agree on what they are?
Some people believe they should be able to defend themselves in case they are threatened. Hell I beleive that as well, just my only defense would be to run like hell I just can see their point of view and in that light, it is just natural to have a gun to protect themselves. Go somewhere out of the cities and just see how protected you feel. I told my mom recently to buy a gun because she lives in the middle of nowhere and the cops can't be relied upon, they are spread out too thin. So what happens to her if she needed to defend yourself from some of the crazy people that live there? Run, hide or fight. It's a desert so not much to run to. Hide where in a cactus? So that leaves fight or die for that matter. I guess that to is a natural right that everyone HAS to do. So fight or die? I would hope you and my mom would choose fight and in this day and age that means guns.

I still believe it is a natural right, just like it is my cats natural right to tear the living c*** out of anything that enters her territory, excluding me Woe to the tiny cockroach if it should intrude on her domain. That is hers and she will SMITE IT WITH A FURIOUS VENGENCE

That's how I see things through other people or things eyes. You want self evident ok how about my cat for an example: She does what comes naturally to her. Now if I declawed her, I would be taking away her natural right to defend her home. That is what I think natural right is. Taking away our ability to defend or kill for either self-preservation or for food.

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April 6th, 2009, 20:17
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post
Some people believe they should be able to defend themselves in case they are threatened. Hell I beleive that as well, just my only defense would be to run like hell I just can see their point of view and in that light, it is just natural to have a gun to protect themselves. Go somewhere out of the cities and just see how protected you feel. I told my mom recently to buy a gun because she lives in the middle of nowhere and the cops can't be relied upon, they are spread out too thin. So what happens to her if she needed to defend yourself from some of the crazy people that live there? Run, hide or fight. It's a desert so not much to run to. Hide where in a cactus? So that leaves fight or die for that matter. I guess that to is a natural right that everyone HAS to do. So fight or die? I would hope you and my mom would choose fight and in this day and age that means guns.

I still believe it is a natural right, just like it is my cats natural right to tear the living c*** out of anything that enters her territory, excluding me Woe to the tiny cockroach if it should intrude on her domain. That is hers and she will SMITE IT WITH A FURIOUS VENGENCE

That's how I see things through other people or things eyes. You want self evident ok how about my cat for an example: She does what comes naturally to her. Now if I declawed her, I would be taking away her natural right to defend her home. That is what I think natural right is. Taking away our ability to defend or kill for either self-preservation or for food.

If you think I'm some sort of pacifist you'd be dead wrong - I didn't say people shouldn't defend themselves. I'm fine with people owning guns - my mother and stepdad have had a breach-loading hunting shotgun in the house since I was five and they recently bought a 45 and a 9mm. I'm fine with it. If someone tries to harm/kill me (or my loved ones) I would end their life as quickly and with as much force as I could possibly muster. Your mom should own a gun if she lives out in the middle of nowhere.

I'm saying that "natural rights" do not exist. "Fight or flight" is not a right, it's a biological mechanism. What are you defining natural rights as? What are the natural rights? Can you list and define them all? Where do they come from? If you believe in natural rights then they have to be universal - but if they were, how come no one agrees on what they are? Why has it taken us thousands upon thousands of years to even get close to deciding that certain things (like slavery) are wrong? Was it always a natural right to be free, or did it become one once we decided slavery was a bad thing?

I think you, your mom, and myself have a right to defend ourselves but it's not a "natural" right.
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April 6th, 2009, 22:31
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
Well, as a devout follower of Thomas Hobbes, I agree with your description of the state of nature, but I'm sure some of the Locke-ian followers here would disagree.
What's the difference?

Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
But in terms of natural 'rights' - well, I like how Hobbes defined natural rights/natural laws. If anyone is *really* that interested I'll post the super-long description/list of them.
Well, I never was a big fan of rights anyway. They're too rigid for my taste. I prefer heuristics. (It's not wrong to kill/steal/rape etc, it's bad.)

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April 6th, 2009, 22:54
Originally Posted by Ubereil View Post
What's the difference?

Well, I never was a big fan of rights anyway. They're too rigid for my taste. I prefer heuristics. (It's not wrong to kill/steal/rape etc, it's bad.)

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Locke's view, from his Two Treatises: “want [lack] of a common judge, with authority, puts all persons in a state of nature” - followed by: “Men living according to reason, without a common superior on earth, to judge between them, is properly the state of nature.”

It's usually translated (and simplified) by saying man is naturally good ; before governments existed we weren't all running around raping and killing each other at whim - people used reason to settle disputes amongst themselves for the most part and would cooperate amongst themselves to get things done if there wasn't a government running around to adjudicate disputes. It's also generally argued that Locke thought law originated before governments did. The Declaration of Independence (and a good deal of the Constitution) is based on Locke's theories.

Putting the stuff on Hobbes in spoiler tags since it's pretty long and not all that necessary, to be honest…

Spoiler

….and this is getting way longer then I thought it would, so I'm going to stop here.
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April 6th, 2009, 23:41
The interesting thing, is neither were totally correct, though I have long been more Lockian than Hobbsian. I always found it fascinating that both were concerned about the 'state of nature', but from opposite points of perspective. It's fun to analyse this from a theological point of view, but unless you're 'into' philosophy and theology (like me ) it tends to get complicated and for many, boring!!

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April 7th, 2009, 00:30
Interesting presentation of both positions, Rithrandril. I have to say I find merit in both suppositions, that man in a so-called 'natural' state is innately good(or lawful and cooperative) and that man is innately selfish(or driven to power.) I don't think these two philosophies are as mutually exclusive as all that; in fact Hobbes' nine points seem strikingly full of faith in man's better nature.

I am having a lot of trouble with the final point, however:

it is a real unity of them all in one and the same person … in such a manner as if every man should say to every man: I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorize all his actions in like manner.
as it seems in direct contradiction to what you quote Hobbes as saying about the innate nature of man in the first place:

“The passions that incline men to peace are: fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them. And reason suggesteth convenient articles of peace upon which men may be drawn to agreement.”
which, as the Homo homini lupus phrase would seem to support, indicates that what motivates man is self-interest, and only fear of death restrains him, therefore voluntarily placing men above you to maintain the peace seems to imply knuckling under to a predator as much as balancing natural impulses with natural laws. Wouldn't, as we so often see, these individuals become infinitely corrupt without restrictions?

I probably am missing the point, though. Philosophy is almost as hard for me to follow as math.

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April 7th, 2009, 00:50
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Interesting presentation of both positions, Rithrandril. I have to say I find merit in both suppositions, that man in a so-called 'natural' state is innately good(or lawful and cooperative) and that man is innately selfish(or driven to power.) I don't think these two philosophies are as mutually exclusive as all that; in fact Hobbes' nine points seem strikingly full of faith in man's better nature.

I am having a lot of trouble with the final point, however:

it is a real unity of them all in one and the same person … in such a manner as if every man should say to every man: I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorize all his actions in like manner.
as it seems in direct contradiction to what you quote Hobbes as saying about the innate nature of man in the first place:

“The passions that incline men to peace are: fear of death; desire of such things as are necessary to commodious living; and a hope by their industry to obtain them. And reason suggesteth convenient articles of peace upon which men may be drawn to agreement.”
which, as the Homo homini lupus phrase would seem to support, indicates that what motivates man is self-interest, and only fear of death restrains him, therefore voluntarily placing men above you to maintain the peace seems to imply knuckling under to a predator as much as balancing natural impulses with natural laws.

I probably am missing the point, though. Philosophy is almost as hard for me to follow as math.

I left out the conclusions he reaches - which would go a long way to explaining it. Basically he argues that since every man has a "right" to everything - including the life and property of everyone else - that to protect themselves the people would come together and invest their power into a Sovereign and in the Commonwealth (aka the State - the titular "Leviathan"). According to Hobbes, people in the state of nature would recognize that jus naturale (their "natural right") would lead to massive strife but unless someone was powerful enough to keep everyone in line they couldn't abide by lex naturalis (the laws of nature) because to do so would just get them killed by people who didn't follow it.

Hobbes' nine laws aren't necessarily having faith in man's better nature, it's more like man being smart enough to know he has to give up some of his rights if he doesn't want to end up murdered/robbed/raped in the woods or even in his own home. Enlightened self-interest, if you will. I look at it the same way I look at having to pay taxes - I hate it but I realize it's in my interest to pay taxes so we have a police force and a military and, you know, roads.

The establishment of the Commonwealth provides the framework that is powerful enough to sustain and enable lex naturalis. If the Sovereign possessed anything less than absolute authority, he would be unable to secure the peace that society needed to operate.

… this will get long again, so spoiler tags…

Spoiler


Ahem. And yeah, he doesn't really address whether or not the Sovereign would become corrupt. I'd argue that the question is largely irrelevant to his argument, though, as a life without the Sovereign would be even worse. Better a somewhat corrupt government that keeps you alive and your property safe than the alternative of "the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

…as you can tell Hobbes has a pretty bleak view on human life. One that at least one founding father - Alexander Hamilton - would mostly agree with. I'm fully a Hobbesian, by the way. I have little to no faith in the better nature of man.

Well, I'm at least glad I had an excuse to dig out my copy of Leviathan (and a small 10-page paper I wrote on it a few years back) - my favorite book, by the way.
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April 7th, 2009, 01:22
Rather scarier when you go into detail. dte will definitely agree with you that the nature of man is unequipped with a "better" part. He's gone to the dark side a long time ago.

I'm with you for much of it, especially the general premise that man needs a mutual contract with authority for civilization to flourish. As a good liberal, though, I have to say I can see at least one even more massive contradiction there:
Hobbes believed that removing the right of rebellion from Man was essential to maintain human society. Continuity of government and of civilization would require that the subjects of the Sovereign not be allowed to overthrow or replace the Sovereign at whim. If the Sovereign was subject to the wills of the people, then in reality he would have no power at all – the Sovereign derives his ability to mete out justice and punishments to his subjects from the fact that his subjects have invested in him their power.
Which I translate: Sovereign has no power except from the people, who surrender to him their power, and then the people have no power of their own because they've given it all away and are totally dependent on the Sovereign exercising their own power over them wisely. (I'm so sure.)

All of which makes me glad the Founders were Locke-ian.

It's interesting that this discussion should be running concurrent with the one about North Korea; I imagine Kim Jong Il would definitely agree that corruption of the Sovereign is largely irrelevant and any government is better than none. But that's an argument that's very vulnerable to degree, so I'll grant that a moderately corrupt government is far better than a natural state where the ruthless and strong freely dominate the weak(especially since that group always includes women, children and old people, all of which describe me at one time or another.)

Thanks for exposing my philosophically illiterate brain to some basics, many of which I'm sure I'm oversimplifying. I need to get more into the habit of what Paul Krugman calls the " hard thinking."

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April 7th, 2009, 01:44
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Rather scarier when you go into detail. dte will definitely agree with you that the nature of man is unequipped with a "better" part. He's gone to the dark side a long time ago.
I believe the theory is that there is no "light side", magerette. You're on the dark side too—eventually you'll get over that denial.

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April 7th, 2009, 01:45
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Rather scarier when you go into detail. dte will definitely agree with you that the nature of man is unequipped with a "better" part. He's gone to the dark side a long time ago.

I'm with you for much of it, especially the general premise that man needs a mutual contract with authority for civilization to flourish. As a good liberal, though, I have to say I can see at least one even more massive contradiction there:

Hobbes believed that removing the right of rebellion from Man was essential to maintain human society. Continuity of government and of civilization would require that the subjects of the Sovereign not be allowed to overthrow or replace the Sovereign at whim. If the Sovereign was subject to the wills of the people, then in reality he would have no power at all – the Sovereign derives his ability to mete out justice and punishments to his subjects from the fact that his subjects have invested in him their power.
Which I translate: Sovereign has no power except from the people, who surrender to him their power, and then the people have no power of their own because they've given it all away and are totally dependent on the Sovereign exercising their own power over them wisely. (I'm so sure.)

All of which makes me glad the Founders were Locke-ian.
Your translation is perfectly accurate! Hobbes’ vision of the world and of Man are nearly antithetical to the modern liberal viewpoint. Liberal democracies, such as the United States or Great Britain, are built on the notion that it is the people who rule; these governments also have the principle of Separation of Powers, and to some extent believe that if the Government breaks its social contract with the people, then they are permitted to revolt and establish a new contract and a new government.

He's making the classical argument for an enlightened dictatorship through most of it. One cool thing to look at though - Hobbes actually had a pretty significant influence on the Constitution, IMO. If you read Federalist Paper #10 (and #51 to a lesser extent), when Madison discusses factions and the seperation of powers, you can see Hobbes' influence. The beauty of our Constitution is it realizes everyone is a jerk and will seek power - but those seeking power will end up negating each other. For those of you who watch the Simpsons, the episode where Burns goes to the Mayo clinic and finds out he has pretty much every disease is a good comparison. Basically, the doctor tells him that they're all in perfect balance due to the "Three Stooges Syndrome" - they're all trying to get in his body but they all can't fit through the door at the same time.

Hamilton was also pretty Hobbesian - he wanted a strong federal government (and an executive with powers equal to or greater than the Imperial Presidency we have today). A professor of history at the US Air Force Academy is a well-known Hamilton scholar and impersonator - he visited our school once, and he made a classical Hobbesian argument about the need for a strong government (in opposition to Jefferson's view) and said this line, which really struck me: "The only evidence I have for my viewpoint is the entirety of human history."


Originally Posted by magerette View Post
It's interesting that this discussion should be running concurrent with the one about North Korea; I imagine Kim Jong Il would definitely agree that corruption of the Sovereign is largely irrelevant and any government is better than none. But that's an argument that's very vulnerable to degree, so I'll grant that a moderately corrupt government is far better than a natural state where the ruthless and strong freely dominate the weak(especially since that group always includes women, children and old people, all of which describe me at one time or another.)

Thanks for exposing my philosophically illiterate brain to some basics, many of which I'm sure I'm oversimplifying. I need to get more into the habit of what Paul Krugman calls the " hard thinking."
To quote President Bartlet in the West Wing: "Il Principe has justified every act of oppression…" I agree that Hobbes' argument is dangerous - but I do agree with him (and this is coming from someone who has donated to the ACLU, btw - although I guess that means dte will have to take away my Republican membership card now). Hobbes' Leviathan is a really good book and I recommend it to everyone - but if you can't get through it, don't worry, I honestly haven't met very many Poli Sci people who could read the original, full text.

I'm also going to throw this argument out there - Hobbes (as well as Thucydides and Machiavelli) have been the primary influences of American (well, most countries) foreign policy. Wilsonian Idealism/Liberalism (which failed) was a product of Lockeian philosophy - as is Neoconservatism. Neocons are just Wilsonian Liberals or former Kennedy Democrats with a gun. The idea that man is naturally good and the world/governments should reflect that is one of the most dangerous ideas ever created.
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April 7th, 2009, 04:16
Don't forget, your true right wing conservative fundamentalist Christian believes that man was created good, but through original sin is fallen and therefore now basically evil!! Both win!!

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April 7th, 2009, 05:07
"..No light side, Three Stooges Syndrome, only evidence entire history of human race, neocons just Wilsoninan liberals with guns, man is good then evil but then saved so good "oops—religion -avoid!avoid!—- *takes out notebook and starts scribbling..*
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Seriously, the hardest thing about digesting the thoughts of those who have gone before us in history is not having that context and content of the times that were a given to them available in our own perspective. I wiki'd Leviathon, and it was first published in 1651. There's almost no way it could NOT have had some influence on the Constitution. I'm impressed that you've read it in it's entirety at all, let alone that you are so conversant with it, Rithrandril, and I doubt reading it myself would give me a significantly better understanding than your exposition, so thanks for that. This had to be one of the works that all of the framers of our government read and debated and understood in ways we probably have no clue about, simply because our references are completely different. I assume that's equally true of Locke.

I'm also going to throw this argument out there - Hobbes (as well as Thucydides and Machiavelli) have been the primary influences of American (well, most countries) foreign policy. Wilsonian Idealism/Liberalism (which failed) was a product of Lockeian philosophy - as is Neoconservatism. Neocons are just Wilsonian Liberals or former Kennedy Democrats with a gun. The idea that man is naturally good and the world/governments should reflect that is one of the most dangerous ideas ever created.
I agree completely. But it's equally misleading and even niave to believe that no good exists. I even agree with Corwin that you can make both arguments, man is good and man is evil, and still be right, because of the amazingly contradictory and perverse thing that is free will. In the midst of the worst evil, the best in humans often is revealed, and seemingly vice versa. But it would seem foolish to base an entire philosophy of governance on any idea other than a middle of the road concept that man as a whole is neither very good nor very bad, but basically—and this may be an aspect of the Hobbesian pov as I have half-digested it— an opportunist restrained by unwilling consent to a society of law in his own self-interest. Or, if you prefer Il Principe, able to be manipulated by his own baser or nobler yearnings by those more skillful, ruthless and therefore(theoretically) more qualified to have the charge of events. I definitely agree there's a lot of that going around.

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April 7th, 2009, 05:09
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
I believe the theory is that there is no "light side", magerette. You're on the dark side too—eventually you'll get over that denial.
This means I get to keep my pitchfork???

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April 7th, 2009, 06:03
"I even agree with Corwin that you can make both arguments, man is good and man is evil, and still be right, because of the amazingly contradictory and perverse thing that is free will."

Mags, I'm almost speechless- you agree with me!!!!

Now about this 'free will' thingy. What free will? In what way do we have free will? If I 'will' something, does that make it so? If I want to shoot someone, I am free to do so? What would H&L say about that? I'm not having a 'go' at you here, but people throw this term 'free will' around a lot and basically it's nonsense. We have freedom of choice usually within certain parameters (which is where philosophy comes in among other things), but unless you come forth with a VERY narrow definition, I have my doubts about free will!! Go for it.

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