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Showing posts from April, 2010

Rights as Things

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What are rights? The purpose of this short essay, or collection of thoughts, is to explore that question.

So many commentators on rights treat them as something tangible, such as:

"We have rights." as compared to "We have milk."
"Don't tread on my rights." as compared to "Don't tread on my land."
"Rights are a gift from God." as compared to "Manna is a gift from God."

What is obvious is that they are anything but tangible. So why do we talk and write like this about rights? If I am alone on an island, do I have rights? What rights do I have? It seems I wouldn't have rights because I would have no need for the entire concept. Why not? Because the concept of rights depends on others. To claim you have rights is nothing more than to claim you have exclusive control and authority over your actions and behavior. Because others claim to have rights, they too have exclusive control and authority over their actions and be…