Friday, December 28, 2007

social constructs and the meaning of "rights"

After my post about the definition of "evil" and recent discussions with my Opa about rights and the Constitution I thought of the 10th Amendment and the actual meaning of "rights" I was going to embark on an essay into the topic, but as I was reading Kevin Baker's blog yesterday I perused his archives and found that he'd already tackled the subject eloquently and in great detail.

What is a "right?"

I may write on the subject anyway, but I doubt there's anything I could say that Mr. Baker hasn't already said.

5 comments:

Kevin said...

Tell me you didn't miss the next seven posts on the same topic!

(Thanks for the plug, BTW.)

Mike W. said...

I've only read the 1st one thus far. I have read a handful of your other "best posts" which have been excellent.

One thing I didn't point out in my post is this. Assuming rights are social constructs, do they cease to be rights when a majority of the public no longer values them? (in a practical sense at least?)

Public policy tends to eventually fall in line with public opinion. Look at the 10th Amendment. It's been basically eviscerated to the point where it's meaningless in practice, yet it's still listed as a Constitutionally protected right.

Kevin said...

Assuming rights are social constructs, do they cease to be rights when a majority of the public no longer values them? (in a practical sense at least?)

You really need to read the rest of the posts because the answer to that is "yes and no." For all practical purposes, yes.

In the remaining exchange, I postulate that there really is only one, fundamental right. All others are either "social constructs" or grow from that one fundamental right and are thus corollaries to it.

Mike W. said...

"In the remaining exchange, I postulate that there really is only one, fundamental right. All others are either "social constructs" or grow from that one fundamental right and are thus corollaries to it."

I'm willing to bet you've got a Rand quote in their somewhere regarding the only "fundamental right" as ones right to his/her own life. (which of course is an ideal which has never come to fruition under any government)

Of course that doesn't mean we shouldn't fight government restriction and work towards Rand's ideal.

Kevin said...

That would be it. I note that it's a restating of Locke's "life, liberty, and property" with a specific difference - Rand notes that the concept of a "right" works only within a social grouping.