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  #21  
Old Jan 19th 2013, 11:45 PM
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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By "collective actions of society" I'm assuming that you are referring to some kind of democracy within a geographical area, Michael.
Yes, but not exclusively so.

National or state governments, or even democracies, are not the only form of social institutions capable of creating rights or freedoms. Dictatorships could create and enforce rights and freedoms just as much as any democracy does, though they rarely ever do that. Religion may be an example of another type of institution that is not specifically geographical, yet could supply significant support for an institution of rights and freedoms (or alternatively, for opposition).

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Here is an article on democracy by David Gordon reprinted at LewRockwell.com today. IMHO his last sentence about says it all:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/gordon/gordon9.html
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Those who support democracy but wish to go beyond appeal to an intuition of its desirability have work to do. Perhaps there is an argument that does show that democracy is entailed by sound morality. Much more likely, it seems to me, there is not. The slogan "Vox populi, vox Dei" and its endless modern variants are best consigned to the rubbish heap of exploded superstitions.
That last paragraph you point to is brilliant sophistry.

That is to say, there is no rational need or requirement for democracy to be 'proven' as more legitimate or morally superior to any other political system. The demand that democracy 'must' provide proof of its legitimacy or moral superiority to justify its usage is thus a clever/persuasive argument of anti-democrats (which is sophistry).

Sir Winston Churchill stated the point perfectly - democracy is the worst of political systems - except for all the rest (that's a quick paraphrase).

We already know that every other political system in the history of the last 1000 years of human governance produces authoritarianism - as well as super-wealth for the super-rich and poverty and repression for the vast majority. It is pretty much self evident that democracy produces a more equitable society where wealth and prosperity is generally more widely spread amongst a majority. Whether or not this is legitimate or morally sound has nothing to do with it. It is practical and functional.
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Old Jan 20th 2013, 12:18 PM
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

Anyone interested in moving on to Book II? I'll provide a summary as I did for the first book if people find that helpful.
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  #23  
Old Jan 21st 2013, 08:39 AM
Tom Palven Tom Palven is offline
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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Anyone interested in moving on to Book II? I'll provide a summary as I did for the first book if people find that helpful.
Shoo-wah. (Sometimes I like to do a Brooklyn accent. Crack myself up. )
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  #24  
Old Jan 21st 2013, 09:47 AM
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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Anyone interested in moving on to Book II? I'll provide a summary as I did for the first book if people find that helpful.
Sounds good. I'll try to keep up best I can.
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  #25  
Old Jan 22nd 2013, 10:20 AM
Tom Palven Tom Palven is offline
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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Yes, as I read it I got the impression that you wouldn't like his philosophy very much.

However, strangely enough, I think you'd both agree on some points about man being "born free" and possessing some set of individual rights 'by nature' because they were yielded to (or taken by) society.
Here's a new argument by Hugh Thomas against the existence of rights posted today:

http://sanctionfreedom.com/?p=263

Last edited by Tom Palven; Jan 22nd 2013 at 10:24 AM.
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Old Jan 22nd 2013, 10:53 AM
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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Here's a new argument by Hugh Thomas against the existence of rights posted today:

http://sanctionfreedom.com/?p=263
Just skimming over that piece, it looks like (wrt to "rights") it runs into the same issues discussed earlier.

To quote from the end:

Quote:
Do you think your freedom might have a better chance if you and everyone else believed that:

*No one has a right to your life, and you have no right to theirs.

*You have no duty to them, and they have no duty to you.
...
My answer would emphatically be "no."

Under the framework presented here (i.e. no rights, no duties), any potentially oppressor might reasonably respond to the objection "You have no right to my life!" by simply saying "Neither do you. But I have a gun!"
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Old Jan 22nd 2013, 01:08 PM
Tom Palven Tom Palven is offline
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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Just skimming over that piece, it looks like (wrt to "rights") it runs into the same issues discussed earlier.

To quote from the end:



My answer would emphatically be "no."

Under the framework presented here (i.e. no rights, no duties), any potentially oppressor might reasonably respond to the objection "You have no right to my life!" by simply saying "Neither do you. But I have a gun!"
That's exactly what tyrants and bullies and building inspectors and border guards, and other assorted brownshirts and oppressors do say; and they also say they have a right to do what they are doing. I acknowledge that they have the guns, but the rights they claim are illogical and what they do is unethical.
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Old Jan 22nd 2013, 01:37 PM
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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That's exactly what tyrants and bullies and building inspectors and border guards, and other assorted brownshirts and oppressors do say; and they also say they have a right to do what they are doing. I acknowledge that they have the guns, but the rights they claim are illogical and what they do is unethical.
Unethical why? In a world without any rights, they have no right to control your life, but then neither do you. You have no duty to surrender yourself to them, but then they have no duty to respect your life or liberty if it gets in the way of what they want. They have the power to do what they want and they're doing it. What right could you possible have to condemn them as unethical, much less offer any hint of resistance? None, if they're are no rights.

Or, put more succinctly, if there are no "rights," then there are no "wrongs." There is ONLY the fact that he has a gun and you don't. Ethics don't enter into it.
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Old Jan 22nd 2013, 06:01 PM
Tom Palven Tom Palven is offline
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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Unethical why? In a world without any rights, they have no right to control your life, but then neither do you. You have no duty to surrender yourself to them, but then they have no duty to respect your life or liberty if it gets in the way of what they want. They have the power to do what they want and they're doing it. What right could you possible have to condemn them as unethical, much less offer any hint of resistance? None, if they're are no rights.

Or, put more succinctly, if there are no "rights," then there are no "wrongs." There is ONLY the fact that he has a gun and you don't. Ethics don't enter into it.
You have a point. Someone trying to control my nonaggressive actions is called unethical by me, by my standard of ethics, which is the Golden Rule, but in fact it is not unethical to the great majority of people in the West who subscribe to utilitarian ethics. All I can say for myself is that I believe that I own my own life and body as evidenced by the fact that I possess it and try to protect it; and I try to associate with people who respect this view as I respect their claim to ownerwhip of themselves.

But, all the human "rights" in the world and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and little else. If, as I have asked before, Americans all enjoy the rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," how then did hundreds of thousands of young men lose their liberty by getting drafted to fight in Vietnam where 55,000 of them died and thousands of others were maimed for the ridiculous cause of maintaining colonialism after the French got their asses kicked at Dien Bien Phu?
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Old Jan 22nd 2013, 09:53 PM
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Default Re: The Social Contract - Book I

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You have a point. Someone trying to control my nonaggressive actions is called unethical by me, by my standard of ethics, which is the Golden Rule, but in fact it is not unethical to the great majority of people in the West who subscribe to utilitarian ethics. All I can say for myself is that I believe that I own my own life and body as evidenced by the fact that I possess it and try to protect it; and I try to associate with people who respect this view as I respect their claim to ownerwhip of themselves.
A laudable goal.


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But, all the human "rights" in the world and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and little else. If, as I have asked before, Americans all enjoy the rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," how then did hundreds of thousands of young men lose their liberty by getting drafted to fight in Vietnam where 55,000 of them died and thousands of others were maimed for the ridiculous cause of maintaining colonialism after the French got their asses kicked at Dien Bien Phu?
"Rights" have never been definitions of what people do have. That very quotation about how all men have the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" comes at a time when, in the eyes of the author, men were being unjustly deprived of those very things. Jefferson knew that saying men have a "right" to liberty didn't mean that they could not be enslaved; it meant that they should not be enslaved.

Rights do not define that is, they define what should be. In the same way, your Golden Rule does not describe the way men do act, but rather the way they should act.
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