The DNC Got All Biblical Yesterday

…and didn’t even know it.

That’s what happens when you substitute a political ideology for religion.

Ah, well. As the Anchoress says, Peter got in, so maybe there’s hope for them yet.

[Update a few minutes later]

God runs deep:

…it’s not a matter of one word more or less, one or more mentions of God. The real heart of the issue is that most of the people in that hall, in the Democratic convention, really don’t accept the understanding of rights contained in the Declaration of Independence: The Declaration appealed first to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the very ground of our natural rights. The drafters declared that “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal,” and then immediately: that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” George Bush was not embarrassed to insist that these are “God-given rights,” as opposed to rights that we had merely given to ourselves. For if we had given them to ourselves, we could as readily take them back or remove them. Newt Gingrich made this point during the primaries; it’s not as though the point were so esoteric as to seem mystical or somehow remote from the understanding of ordinary folks. And Paul Ryan touched on this understanding of natural rights during his own speech at the convention. He could surely respond even now by putting the question to Obama and the Democrats, and putting it in the terms of a dare and wager: If we took a survey on this matter, we bet that about 70–80 percent or more of the delegates at the Democratic convention would be too embarrassed to say that these rights were given to us by our Creator, the Author of those Laws of Nature. And we could bet that, in contrast, about 80 percent of the delegates at the Republican convention would assent to that proposition without a trace of hesitation. Why not put the question so that the heart of the matter does not fade?

I would say that I do believe in natural rights, but I don’t need to believe in God for that, any more than I need a god to provide gravity. But when people like Touré Neblett deny natural rights, they might want to consider this:

…his is not an isolated view; it is/was shared by a number of world figures: Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Amin — just to name a few. So take heart, Touré, you’re not alone.

Sadly true.

67 thoughts on “The DNC Got All Biblical Yesterday

  1. wodun

    The Democrats are anti-religion but they have no problem quoting scripture to support their policies and attack their opponents.

    The links were spot on in illustrating the lack of understanding about where we get our rights but Democrats have been trying to do away with the circle of life for some time now.

  2. Jiminator

    The R’s could make a pretty strong case that the D’s don’t really understand the Declaration of Independence based on the convention speakers.

  3. M Puckett

    The Democrats are anti-religion but they have no problem quoting scripture to support their policies and attack their opponents.

    Well, any good Baptist Minister will tell you that even the Devil can quote Scripture when it suits his ends.

  4. Andrew W

    Maybe I’m reading this incorrectly:

    Rand: “I would say that I do believe in natural rights…But when people like Touré Neblett deny natural rights, they might want to consider this”:

    Peter Kirsanow at NR: “…his is not an isolated view; it is/was shared by a number of world figures: Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Amin — just to name a few. So take heart, Touré, you’re not alone.”

    And Rand Simberg, Andrew W, lots of the people who read this blog, many top scientists, and lots of other nice people.

    1. Andrew W

      Oop! misread Rands “I would say that I do believe in natural rights”, as “do not”, never the less, I don’t believe in them, and many good people don’t.

      1. Bob-1

        The most interesting distinction arises when you disambiguate the word “believe”. When people say “I believe in Bill Clinton”, there is no dispute over whether Bill Clinton exists; the expression is taken to indicate support for either the man or his politics. No one says “you’ll need to show scientific evidence for Bill Cllinton’s existence for your belief to be persuasive”

        If a person says “I believe in natural rights”, there there is an ambiguity:

        Meaning 1: They might be indicating support for an idea without making any claims about the natural world, just as there is no claim being made about the natural world when someone says “I believe in Bill Clinton”). In this case, natural science (usually) isn’t relevant.

        Meaning 2: They might be asserting a claim about the natural world, just as one does when one says “I believe in gravity”. In that case, natural science is relevant, and some scientific evidence is called for.

        To my surprise, there are contributors on this blog who use “Meaning 2″, and even more astoundingly, they believe they have scientific evidence. (For example, the “scientific evidence” for the natural right to self defense amounts to observations such as “wolves have teeth”.)

        Rand, did you mean Meaning 1 or Meaning 2?

          1. Andrew W

            Wiki: “Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable.”

            Care to give an example of a “natural right”?

          2. Jiminator

            Andrew, I encourage you to read just a few more paragraphs further into the Wikipedia article you quoted, as it provides ample comparison and contrast of various natural rights as argued by Kant, Hart, Locke, Hobbes, Jefferson, and more.

          3. Bob-1

            “the right to self defense. It doesn’t get much more fundamental than that.”

            Thus mixing up a capability with a right. A criminal, found guilty and about to be taken from the courthouse to a jail, has some capability to defend himself (he might try to bite the guards), but he doesn’t have any right to do so.

          4. Jiminator

            Bob, your example is stupid. Even a convicted criminal has the right to be treated humanely on his way to jail and during his incarceration and the right to defend himself against mistreatment.

          5. Rand Simberg Post author

            With an actual (as opposed to simply those opposed to the State) criminal, the issue isn’t so much that he doesn’t have a natural right so much as that by his actions he has forfeited it.

          6. MfK

            “Thus mixing up a capability with a right.”

            Not at all. A right is a freedom of action that does not require the permission of any other person. And, in fact, the prisoner does have the right to defend himself. It may be more difficult for him/her to establish that it was defense of self, but the right exists nevertheless.

          7. Titus

            Perhaps the Unfrozen Caveman Philosopher would be less “frightened and confused” by the “belief in Natural Law” if he were to apply the practical definition of belief: to act as if it were true.

            Gravity is a good example of this. Belief in gravity is demonstrable if one confidently walks down the pavement, pushing off with the left foot and quickly moving to catch one’s self with the right instead of, say, grasping to the nearest hand railing for fear of flying off into space (along with most of the atmosphere). The same thing can be applied to ethical behavior — even the most cursory examination of Natural Law shows it to be an exercise in practicality, emergent ethics for getting along with one’s fellows. It lacks an exhaustive, unified definition for every conceivable situation, but it can easily be summarized (I prefer the simple, “Don’t be a dick”) and extrapolated to novel situations.

            Thus, when someone says they believe in natural law, it is unnecessary to tie one’s self in knots over their manifold quantum mental states, it simply tells you how they act and perceive the behavior of others.

          8. Bob-1

            Oh! So, when taking gravity into account for mundane activities around the house, you act as though you believe the Earth is a plane, but you’re not in denial about the shape of the Earth, and you’re certainly going to take its actual shape into account for an orbital launch. A flat earth is a simplifying assumption.

            So, natural rights are a simplifying assumption that you know isn’t really an accurate description of the natural world?

          9. Titus

            Eh? How do you know I’m acting as if the Earth is a plane and not a very, very large sphere? How would my behavior differ between the two?

          10. Bob-1

            Right! You’ve nicely summed up why the criticism of people Touré Neblett (or me, or presumably Andrew W.) is silly, and why comparisons to Hitler and Stalin and Idi Amin are utterly ridiculous.

            I can’t tell, as I see you play catch in your backyard, whether you’re acting as if the Earth is very very large nearly spherical object, or a very very large perfect sphere, or even just a plane.

            And in exactly the same way, you can’t tell, as you see me talk about the importance of the right to free speech, whether I think free speech is a “natural right”, or one that people have to strive mightily to have governments recognize.

            People who don’t believe in natural rights might be like Hitler and Stalin, but they might be like libertarians, or like the overwhelming majority of US citizens who insist on all sorts of rights.

            And people who do believe in natural rights might be wonderful people like you and Rand and most of the other commenters on this blog, but other people who believe in natural rights might be racist assholes who think that nature shows that there are natural races, and natural rights only applies to humans who are also actual people — you know, the ones we now call “white people” — whereas other humans are just 3/5s of a person with no rights (which was Touré Neblett’s point.)

          11. Titus

            “Because for black people, Hispanic people, and women, our rights do not come from God or nature.”

            Well, those are not the words I’d expect to hear from someone who actually believes in natural or God-given rights, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt since most people are illiterate on this issue. He seems historically illiterate, since white men had to fight for their rights in the late 1700’s. The whole of his statement is certainly consistent with the utilitarian’s view that rights don’t really exist. I could speculate that he’s a closet fan of John Rawls or something but that would be doing back-flips on Occam ’s razor…

          12. Bob-1

            I disagree. Rhetoric about natural rights aside, I think you’d find that Neblett (or me, or Andrew W) would fight for universal rights just as much you would, and in exactly the same way.

          13. Curt Thomson

            I can’t tell, as I see you play catch in your backyard, whether you’re acting as if the Earth is very very large nearly spherical object, or a very very large perfect sphere, or even just a plane.

            But I’m guessing you can tell he’s NOT acting like it’s a large anti-gravity generator. You’re doing back-flips on Occam’s ball-peen hammer Bob. Mildly entertaining, but approaching tedious.

          14. Titus

            I think you’d find that Neblett (or me, or Andrew W) would fight for universal rights

            Don’t make me say that Stalin and Lenin were also for “universal rights,” because I will, if I have to. Things were going so swimingly, but there’s a giant gap in your reasoning.

          15. MfK

            “…you act as though you believe the Earth is a plane…”

            That’s silly. A plane can’t fly in space, and everyone knows that we inhabit Spaceship Earth.

      2. Ron

        Thanks for the distinction. You know who else didn’t believe in them?

        Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Amin — just to name a few.

  5. ken anthony

    The problem is that force is more fundamental than rights.

    When you love your enemy you respect their rights. When you don’t, trampling individual rights is easy for those that gain the power. You can now kill an American citizen without due process …just because…

    It is amazing to me that, “you belong to the government” is so easily accepted by so many. I don’t see any election result altering this. The future is liable to be highly unstable and chaotic.

  6. Rand Simberg Post author

    I can’t tell if there are claims being made here about the natural world.

    The claims are empirical, just as they are for gravity.

    Societies based on natural rights do well for their people as individuals, and generate wealth. Others…not so much.

    If you don’t care about that, you won’t care much about natural rights, either.

    1. Bob-1

      That’s like saying atoms exist because societies which believe in atoms do well for themselves. Certainly it is true that societies which embrace science have historically done well, but if, in the next 100 years, scientific knowledge leads to a man-made catastrophe after which only non-scientific societies survive , that won’t have any bearing on whether atoms exist or not.

      Similarly, I wouldn’t judge whether God exists or not based on whether or not a theocratic society prospers. The widespread belief in God might cause a theocratic society to prosper, but that doesn’t tell us whether God really exists or not.

      1. Rand Simberg Post author

        That’s like saying atoms exist because societies which believe in atoms do well for themselves. Certainly it is true that societies which embrace science have historically done well, but if, in the next 100 years, scientific knowledge leads to a man-made catastrophe after which only non-scientific societies survive , that won’t have any bearing on whether atoms exist or not.

        Now, you’re flailing (as usual) Bob. Do you imagine that a society that doesn’t believe that atoms exist will do better? Or reach the stars?

        Beliefs about natural rights are as important to that goal as beliefs about gravity.

      2. George Turner

        But God must exist, because who else would smite the atom-believers and protected the theocrats? If atoms really existed and had any kind of atomic forces they’d have protected their followers, but they obviously didn’t.

        Similarly, natural rights are far superior to government-created artificial rights, because artificial rights are chock full of toxins.

      3. Rand Simberg Post author

        Just to follow up, I’m (I hope obviously) not saying that belief in either gravity, atoms, or natural rights is a sufficient condition to open up the universe to humanity. But I do think it is a necessary one. Those who disagree can…disagree. That’s what comment sections are for.

        1. Bob-1

          I’m astonished. We’re talking about a hypothetical natural phenomenon and the only test for it you’ve suggested is whether *belief* in the phenomenon allows a society to prosper?

          This isn’t good science. This isn’t science at all. This is religion.

          1. George Turner

            No, that’s science.

            Economists sometimes talk about the differences in economic performance between protestant countries and traditionally Catholic countries, and of course there are major differences between Christian countries and Muslim countries (involving banking, etc). People’s beliefs affect their behavior and influences the type of institutions they create, and those effect economic performance.

            Putting this plainly, lions on the savannah who believe that they should be at the top of the food chain and eat meat (natural rights) do better than lions who think they should try to get along with the gazelles and sing Disney songs (inclusive, socialist, Obama-voting lions).

          2. Titus

            Scar was clearly a Left-wing commie usurper for not respecting the natural order and divine right of kings by (spoiler!) killing his broth . . . holy sh*t! That flick was a total rip-off of Hamlet! I want my five dollars back, you motherf*&%#s!

  7. Bob-1

    So, if a European country where people believe in anthropogenic global warming has worse economic performance than the good ol’ US of A where where people don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming, is that evidence that people are not causing global warming?

    You don’t have to agree with Al Gore to understand there is a difference between truth and convenience. :-)

    1. Curt Thomson

      For someone who, when faced with murder on a deserted island, will patiently wait for the Navy to arrive, you’re throwing “convenience” around in a somewhat haphazard way.

      1. Bob-1

        My position is reductionist: if you go poking around inside the human body, you won’t find souls or rights. In theory, by poking around in the brain, you could find certain physical systems (electrical impulses, chemical networks, etc) that instantiate ideas about souls and rights, but you wouldn’t find the soul itself and you wouldn’t find any rights, because they don’t exist as natural objects. They are imaginary, and all our brains can do is imagine them.

        1. Titus

          Right, and by that reasoning, we can destroy humans at-will because they’re just clumps of atoms: meatbags. How is that even remotely supposed to approximate Natural Law again???

          1. Titus

            Dewd, you went there. Why did you even go to “is” if you wanted to stay in the land of “ought”?

            Clearly you are now just trolling out of frustration, complete with condescending Google linkage. Have a good weekend.

          2. Bob-1

            Titus, I think you misunderstood me.

            I think free speech is important (that it ought to be) but I’m not saying that it naturally exists (that it is). I’m making no connection between the natural world (“is”) and ethics (“ought”).

            You are making that connection. The very idea of natural rights is what “goes there”. I didn’t go there, you did.

          3. Titus

            Is/ought is a total red herring. A man tries to mug you on the street — ought you to trust him with your stock portfolio?

          4. Bob-1

            Titus asks:” Is/ought is a total red herring. A man tries to mug you on the street — ought you to trust him with your stock portfolio?”

            Titus, that’s not quite the sort of “ought” Hume was talking about – he was talking about whether a course of action was moral, not whether it was a plan which was likely to work out well.

            However, Hume’s point applies, even in that case: you can’t conclude even a morally neutral “ought” from “is”, given the information you’ve provided.

            Why not? Because it depends what your goals are, and what circumstances exist.

            Consider the movie “Catch Me If you Can”
            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264464/

            The movie answers the question “Why would the FBI hire a con-artist?”

            There are similar arguments for why the guy who just tried to mug you might be the right guy to handle your stock portfolio. Yes, hiring a mugger is counter-intuitive, but Hume was begging us to use logic, not intuition.

            The following website starts out with an attempt at humor that, like all attempt at humor, might rub you the wrong way, but eventually it settles down and provides a nice discussion of the problem. Titus, I’m sure you’re already familiar with material but other people (like George Turner) might benefit.
            http://www.philosophybro.com/2012/01/mailbag-monday-is-ought-problem.html

          5. Bob-1

            Even if we can’t walk around being strictly logical on a day to day basis, do you think Hume’s logic was wrong?

            Bigger picture: Do you acknowledge that even though I reject the idea of natural rights because they seem unscientific and even, via Hume’s argument, to be illogical, I *might* be someone who can be relied upon to uphold the highest ethical standards?

            (“Highest ethical standards” are just what you’d expect (do onto others as you’d have them do onto you, acting much much more like Jesus than like Hitler, etc, etc.)

          6. Titus

            1. Lest you think “is/ought” is a prescription for ethical paralysis or nihilism, Hume already tackles this problem of applied ethics for us via Induction. Further, Kant’s first critique, Gödel’s incompleteness theorems (and likely many other treatises I’m unaware of) all lead us to believe that there can be no great ethical formal system to end them all. Thus, I return to the heuristics of Natural Law as fundamental — ethics is inescapable, often tragically so.

            2. Sure, you might – the universe is stochastic after all, with great disconnects between what people say and do. However, if you go about advocating the unethical, that would certainly bring your reliability into question.

          7. Bob-1

            Name a right that you think is important. I’m sure I’ll agree with you that it is an important right.

            I’ll deny that the important right is also a natural one. But, since you and I share the same moral/ethical beliefs, you can be assured that I’ll insist that the right be honored by all people, and I’ll insist that the right applies to all people. I’ll insist that governments and contracts protect that right. I’ll decry any attempt by governments, contracts, or individuals to deny that right. I’ll insist that it is *wrong* to deny that right, and that the morally and ethically *right* thing to do is to protect that right.

            (The importance of the right in question will inform my politics, and I’ll hang out at blogs which have politically different points of view but where the authors agree with me about the right, so that I’ll keep thinking about how the right in question will inform my politics.)

            I think Hume showed that “ought” is logically disconnected from “is”, but I don’t think “is/ought” is a prescription for ethical paralysis or nihilism. I don’ t think that at all! I just think that a system of can’t be logically grounded by our observations & I think that’s all Hume was saying. So, suppose I have logically ungrounded ethics? As you point out, logical grounding might be impossible anyway. If you, Titus, personally agree with my ethics, then why expect me to act like Hitler when I announce that I believe rights must be protected by governments and individuals but are not natural?

            Finally, since you are a big fan of common sense, I’ll point out the obvious: no one really expects me to act like Hitler.

          8. Titus

            Not Hitler — Lenin or Trotsky, maybe. Actually, I expect you to behave like a good secular Puritain/Quaker, born and raised in the Cathedral. And, no, when and if the time comes, I do not expect them to call on the fourty-year-old jews to do the dirty work…

        2. George Turner

          If you go poking a human, you get a reflexive punch in the face, evidence that there’s a natural right not to get poked.

          Your problem is that you’re looking for a right as a “thing” that has mass and spin and energy. It’s trivially easy in science to not find something because you’re using the wrong test.

          You can’t see evolution with laser interferometry or doppler ranging, therefore evolution doesn’t really exist.

          Charles Lindberg’s flight doesn’t show up in the geological record, therefore it didn’t happen.

          The power to levy taxes doesn’t register on an oscilliscope, so it doesn’t exist.

          Numbers only exist in our heads. Are they real? Is there such a thing as the square root of two? If so, where is it, and how much does it weigh?

          1. Bob-1

            “You can’t see evolution with laser interferometry or doppler ranging”

            There are physical tests that can confirm falsifiable evolution-related hypotheses. I’d like to see such a test for natural rights. For that matter, I’d like to hear some falsifiable hypotheses. So far, all I’ve heard is ” If a society believes in natural rights, it will prosper”, which doesn’t get at the question of whether the rights are natural or just imagined to be natural.

            “Charles Lindberg’s flight doesn’t show up in the geological record”

            But there is plenty of physical evidence that it happened.

            “The power to levy taxes doesn’t register on an oscilliscope, so it doesn’t exist.”

            The power to tax is a social construct, just like rights. If you consider one isolated person, the power to levy taxes doesn’t exist (which gets back to the desert island example.) Talking about the sense in which social constructs exist is reasonable, but such constructs tend to vary by culture, which is antithetical to the idea of “natural rights”.

            “Numbers only exist in our heads. Are they real?”

            As you probably know, the nature of numbers is a historic problem. Science deals with it by saying “Go visit the math department, or the philosophy department, we don’t handle that problem here.”

          2. George Turner

            And you’re getting closer, but not quite there yet. You’re citing negative results of incorrect tests as evidence of non-existence. A right is a mental concept, like a number, and one whose existence can be deduced (like the square root of two, which is imaginary), whose effects can be observed in behavior, like instincts.

            You keep asserting something like “The number seven doesn’t exist in nature.” We keep saying that numbers aren’t like that. You demand to see proof, so we show you seven amoeba under a microscope. You say that there aren’t seven amoeba, there are four amoeba on the left and three amoeba on the right. We say “look again” and you say there are five amoeba and two amoeba.

            So here are some falsifiable tests. Steal the personal property of a large number of people and see if they get very, very upset. Murder large numbers of people and see if they show a strong aversion to the act. Enslave them and observe their passionate objections. Note that people who aren’t even directly affected by these acts get violently upset by knowledge that such an act has occured, as if there exists something called “transgression.”

            In test after test you’ll find the same result, as if some force, or concept, is animating them like wildebeasts running from lions (does fear exist?) or searching for water holes (does thirst exist?). Do more tests and you’ll find that many animals think they have territorial rights. Birds and squirrels argue among their own species over territorial claims, and especially nests, as if they have property rights. Lions defend kills as if they have property rights to it. People do the same, especially over property and family. Constant observations of the phenomenon led enlightenment scientists and philosophers to posit the existence of natural rights.

          3. Bob-1

            Throughout human history, men have been treating women like crap. Not every man, certainly, but the behavior has been commonplace in almost all ( if not all) societies. Does it indicate that men have a natural right to treat women like crap?

            Since men treat women like crap across different cultures, maybe it is an instinct. And you can find very similar behavior throughout in the animal kingdom. Is that important?

            You say ” Murder large numbers of people and see if they show a strong aversion to the act.” Well, murdering large number numbers of people has been treated with great enthusiasm (by others) throughout history. Again, it is almost like it is instinctual for a large group of humans to get enthusiastic about murdering another large group of humans. Does this indicate that people have a right to murder large number of people, maybe as long as they are from some other tribe?

            I’d like to recommend Hume’s comment about “the Is-Ought” problem to you too.

          4. George Turner

            And right on cue, you say “There are four amoebas there and three amoebas over there, not seven!” :D

            Note that men and women do NOT get horribly upset at the sight of a man NOT treating a woman like crap. They do not get upset when someone is NOT killing large numbers of people.

            If you’re not smart enough to understand how the test works, you might as well be using a microscope to find the number seven.

          5. Bob-1

            “Note that men and women do NOT get horribly upset at the sight of a man NOT treating a woman like crap”

            Yes, they do get upset, horribly upset, about that. Treating women just like men was an outrage not long ago. Read about the women’s suffrage movement, in this country and in Europe. There were riots in the UK. Why?

            Rand has been diligent about pointing out cases where tribal people (who I think just happen to be Muslim, or, according to Rand, because they are Muslim) insist, en masse, on murderously crappy treatment of women.

            Here’s a very very mild example (first thing I found when I googled):
            http://articles.cnn.com/2011-04-05/world/bangladesh.protests_1_protesters-riot-police-coalition-of-islamic-groups?_s=PM:WORLD

            Can we agree that there are much more horrific examples, and these horrific examples are numerous? Part of what makes them horrific is the nature of the murder (or torture, etc), but part of what makes them horrific (to us) is that there are so many people who do support this way behaving.

            Oh, I wouldn’t be a good liberal caricature if I didn’t point out that in this country, not very long ago, the sight of an African-American getting treated the same as a white guy could inspire a riot, or a lynching. Certainly this wasn’t true of all Southerners, but it was true of vast numbers of them, enough of them to make your argument suspect.

            What constitutes “crappy treatment” is cultural, not universal. I’m sure you can find some points of agreement among all cultures, but those points of agreement won’t look much like what you think of as universal natural rights.

          6. Bob-1

            One universal you and I might expect is that babies have a right to life. But on the one hand, there were numerous cultures in history which practiced child sacrifice, and on the other hand, modern Americans strongly disagree about when a fertilized egg becomes a baby.

            Oh, and George, please also consider the Stanford Prison Experiment. From wikipedia: “Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. ”
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

          7. George Turner

            So it’s five amoebas and two paramecium…

            Earlier you conflated innate tendencies with rights, arguing that since not all innate tendencies are natural rights, then natural rights don’t exist. We flail our arms when we drown. Nobody ever claimed arm flailing was a natural right.

            Now you’re citing the lack of women’s suffrage as evidence that natural law doesn’t exist, when it wasn’t part of natural law to begin with, nor was the right to vote. Note that the Constitution and the Founding Fathers were quite comfortable with the idea of appointments. Nor did they argue that there’s a natural right against punishment. They hung people by the neck. They flogged people – routinely.

            So is there anything else you can think of that has nothing to do with natural law, has never been claimed to be part of natural law, whose existence or lack thereof somehow disproves natural law, so I can once again milk the amoeba joke?

  8. Bob-1

    In order to test whether natural rights exist, you suggested that I should observe a certain human tendency: ““Note that men and women do NOT get horribly upset at the sight of a man NOT treating a woman like crap”

    I pointed out that the opposite tendency can be observed in many societies. And similar tendencies, like racism with popular support, can also be observed.

    Now you’re saying, “well, that was never part of the idea of natural law in the first place”, which makes me wonder why you suggested the test.

    So, how else do you suggest that I should test whether natural rights exist? Any other proposed tendencies? Or, do you have a whole other sort of test?

    1. George Turner

      Actually, no. In fact, society has always regarded a gentleman as a person who doesn’t punch women in the face, and even Muslims are not upset at the sight of a man who is NOT beating a woman. Otherwise all they could do is run around beating women all day long. They don’t even get upset at the thought of a man who doesn’t beat a woman, and probably wish they had a wife who didn’t need the occassional beating.

      So no, you failed at providing the example. You also failed by citing women’s suffrage, which not only hadn’t been considered a natural right, but the men who were upset by it were seeing their [i]own[/i] votes and control diminished (women outnumber men). Kind of like the upset you’d see if we gave all the Chinese the right to vote in the US. We’re not opposed to Chinese democracy, but really don’t want them running our country instead of us.

      So you’ve go the wrong upset, and an upset over something that wasn’t thought to be an eternal, God-given natural right in the first place. (If God gave us the right to vote, why did Israel have a king?)

      Also, you brought up the societies where women are treated like crap, arguing that if natural rights exist, treating women like crap must be a natural right, then went on to talk about women’s suffrage.

      The number of errors in your argument are numerous.

      Tendencies have never been sufficient by themselves for any legal scholar or philosopher to declare something a natural right. We have lots of tendencies, like flailing our arms, that nobody has ever thought was a natural right. I’ve already talked about suffrage, and that people don’t get upset at witnessing a man interacting with a woman in a way that doesn’t involve a beating. Nobody gets upset at that.

      Just to get you in the same general universe as the rest of us, natural rights were thought of as those things that when transgressed, all people in all places and times seem to find abhorrent or deeply upsetting. There’s been a lot of deep writing and thinking on the subject by everyone from Aristotle, to Aquinas, to Locke, but that’s the gist of it.

  9. Bob-1

    “Just to get you in the same general universe as the rest of us, natural rights were thought of as those things that when transgressed, all people in all places and times seem to find abhorrent or deeply upsetting.”

    Well, I agree that we shouldn’t be in different universes when we discuss something. But it sounds to me like you aren’t in the same universe as Rand and Titus and some of the other folks here. They think that natural rights include life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, self-defense, and free speech. I hope they’ll correct me if I’m wrong about that. People in all places and times have not found it abhorrent or deeply upsetting when those are transgressed. Rather, people in many different places and times found it quite normal that other people or even they themselves would not have life or liberty or be able to defend themselves or be able to speak freely or even be able to pursue happiness altogether.

    I’d still like to hear some falsifiable testable tests that show that natural rights exist, but it sounds like we skipped a step. George: what natural rights do you believe in?

    1. Bob-1

      “testable tests” Heh.

      I really appreciated your effort to suggest falsifiable tests, but I think each of them failed, due to humanity’s long history of accepting behaviors that you and I find horrible.

  10. George Turner

    Again, you deny the existence of the number seven.

    I’m in the same universe as Rand, Titus, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine (sort of – I’d also throw rocks at him), Immanuel Kant, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Senneca, Hegel, every person who signed the Declaration of Independence, and the US Supreme Court.

    You seem to idiotically think that a right can’t be a right if you can violate it, or enjoy violating it. I’m sure rapists will be glad to hear that. Heck, even I’m glad to hear that because I’m working on a new piece of performance art that involves sawing liberals into pieces with a chainsaw and throwing them in a woodchipper, an activity which had been banned, but liberals have recently realized that they don’t have the right not to be shredded into little pieces for performance art.

    I don’t agree with their logic, but they’re way smarter than I am, so let the killings begin!

    “To end self-destruct – press SEVEN. To continue self-destruct, press other random keys in a futile attempt to look intelligent and non-suicidal.”

    1. Bob-1

      George,

      I enjoy your humor, but now you’re dodging my question, and you’re dodging your own argument.

      Part 1

      My question: what natural rights do you believe in? The philosophers you mentioned didn’t agree on which natural rights exist, so lets just focus on you.

      Part 2

      Your argument:

      I’m going to quote what you said:

      So here are some falsifiable tests. Steal the personal property of a large number of people and see if they get very, very upset. Murder large numbers of people and see if they show a strong aversion to the act. Enslave them and observe their passionate objections. Note that people who aren’t even directly affected by these acts get violently upset by knowledge that such an act has occured, as if there exists something called “transgression.”

      If I find societies where people don’t get upset when they have their personal property stolen from them and don’t object passionately when they are enslaved, doesn’t that mean the tests have failed?

      And since you said Note that people who aren’t even directly affected by these acts get violently upset by knowledge that such an act has occured, as if there exists something called “transgression.”

      If I find societies where people don’t get upset when some other people have their personal property stolen from them, don’t get upset if large numbers of some other people are murdered, don’t object passionately when some other people are enslaved, doesn’t that mean the tests have failed?

      In short, if I find societies where theft, murder, and enslavement, when directed at other people, is not viewed as a transgression, doesn’t that mean the tests that you proposed have failed?

    2. George Turner

      And in a last, desperate attempt, the Democrat reaches out with both hands… to grab… the tar baby.

      :D

      What you’re about to do is to confirm to the rest of us why leftists have been content with mass murder, human slavery, and seizing private property – by reciting the old arguments that such things are acceptable, and denying the existence of natural rights. But instead of having even more fun and amusement watching you defend the Democrats’ peculiar institution, Greek and Roman slavery, collectivist mass murder, and confiscatory tax rates, I’ll explain how those things caused people to realize that there are natural rights, and thus honed our understanding of them.

      Or, if you prefer to stay completely “sciencey”, I’ll note that finding cases where the effects of an electric field are masked by a carefully tuned magnetic field doesn’t disprove the existence of electric fields, which is pretty much what you’re trying to do.

      In tribal societies, raiding villages for property and captives is the norm, killing as many of the enemy warriors as possible and taking their territory. We did it for so long that we evolved behavioral coping mechanisms for it.

      As society grew a bit more advanced, the warrior class would enslave the farmers and the merchant class would sell the slaves like cattle.

      People with a strong moral compass quickly realized that this was very wrong on a fundamental level, despite tradition, acceptance, profits, and fear of revolt (You, John Brown, and Spartacus need to have a talk). Philosophers began a long dialog on what rights humans have just because they are human beings, and their conclusion was that we have [i]natural rights[/i].

      At several points you’ve argued that a right doesn’t exist if it is violated or ignored by a social group, such as when you said:

      Rather, people in many different places and times found it quite normal that other people or even they themselves would not have life or liberty or be able to defend themselves or be able to speak freely or even be able to pursue happiness altogether.

      Yeah, the last place and time where that was true was the DNC convention in Charlotte, but ignoring a right doesn’t disprove the existence of the right, otherwise it would throw much of international law and civil rights law right into the wastebasket, because the act of violating an accepted right would be the same as cancelling it out. If that’s true for natural rights, then it would be true for granted rights, because scholars and jurists (like the Supreme Court) take natural rights as more immutable and fundamental that granted rights.

      We can’t prove that race-based human slavery is wrong in a laboratory science experiment with a laser. We just know it by using our feelings, reason, and intellect. If you’re lacking all three of those, we can’t do much to help you, other than to make sure you don’t wander around re-enslaving people.

  11. Bob-1

    “At several points you’ve argued that a right doesn’t exist if it is violated or ignored by a social group”

    That absolutely is not what I’m saying. I’m very disappointed.

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