Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rights and needs

Need: "To require something because it is essential."

Want: "A desire to possess some thing or condition."

Right: "A legal entitlement to have something, or to act in a certain way."

Obligation: "Duty; commitment."

Responsibility: "The state of being accountable."

Privilege: "A special right, immunity, advantage; not given to all people or all classes."

Some possible rights:

The right to have food to survive;
The right to have shelter;
The right to be free from fear of attack or death;
The right to own property;
The right to clean drinking water;
The right to receive a living wage for one's labor;
The right to keep the fruit of one's labors and not have it taken away and given to others;
The right to a certain standard of housing;
The right to a free education;
The right to be a drug addict (for example, to be an alcoholic);
The right not to work if one is so inclined;
The right to work at the job of one's choosing;
The right to have one's native language spoken at school and printed on forms;
The right to equal or preferred access if one is handicapped;
The right of free travel without regard to political borders;
The right to live where one wants to live;
The right not to be bound by laws one doesn't agree with;
The right not to be killed if one does murder;
The right to free medical care;
The right to have adequate transportation;
The right to breathe clean air;
The right to be properly and adequately clothed;
The right not to serve in any army;
The right to receive a pension when one is old; to be secure in one's old age

Who can think of more rights all people should have? There must be many more. Are all of these true rights? Are some simply desired conditions rather than true rights? Who decides?

I believe many of these things are actual human rights. The trouble, as always, is in the securing of them and the guarantee of them. I also believe several of these things are not rights at all.


  1. I detect a few sleepers in your list.

    I don't define a human right in the same way as you do. I think it's a fundamental right that any human, anywhere, ought to be able to expect and that there aren't very many.

    Most of the others you list are legal rights that vary depending on where you live.

  2. I see rights differently, I think, more in line with how they were described in the DoI, rights as something everyone it entitled to, whether the legal system recognizes it or not. Some are on your list; some are not.

    I do believe there are entitlements above and beyond "rights" that are reasonable for a modern society, and some on your list that don't even count as either rights or entitlements as I think of them.

    I do not think everything on your list is a worthy rights/entitlement and I don't think those that are worthy are all created equal.

  3. There are laws with which a lot people disagree, it doesn't mean they don't/shouldn't have to follow them.

    Just because YOU don't believe the speed limit should be 15 mph on a particular street doesn't mean I and all of the other citizens using that street should have to risk our lives because you're going 115.

    It's not a right to work at the job of your choosing, it's a privilege.

    It's not a right to live where you want to live either. That can be dependent to how much $$ you make which is tied to doing the job you have, not the one you want.

    Blah blah, yadda yadda, my back hurts and my fingernails keep getting stuck between the keys...

  4. Great points all, I find myself in the middle, and thats where I shall stay.

    nice reponces and post, thx.

  5. I shall have to accuse you of this vilest of blogging-crimes: framing.

    Let me rephrase some of your examples:

    The right to be a drug addict - or is it the right of dominion over your own body?

    The right not to be killed if one does murder - is the same as the right to live, or your #3

    The right not to serve in any army - I'd frame that as the right not to have to kill

    Not that I don't agree with you that many of those should be (and some already are recognised as) basic human rights. I'd add freedom of religion and the right to a fair trial.

    I'd dispute 'The right to have one's native language spoken at school and printed on forms;', If I moved to the states I wouldn't suddenly expect all my forms to be in German. I strongly disagree with 'The right not to be bound by laws one doesn't agree with;', this is the definition of anarchy, and would render all other 'rights' moot.

    In the end, simplistic definitions like this don't stand up to real life, of course. If, as a criminal, you get sentenced to prison, your right to free travel gets taken away, for example.

    Lastly, I don't understand your question about 'true rights'? What is a true right? According to your definition above, 'Right: "A legal entitlement to have something, or to act in a certain way."' a 'true right' would be something that is or was codified into law in a country somewhere. By that definition, all of them are or have been 'true rights' at some point.

    Even more lastly: You don't get to cop out - in which of those rights do you believe in?

  6. There are no rights other than those 'rights' which are agreed by groups of humans. These can be just as easily disagreed.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident" is a nonsensical statement.
    In fact, if those truths were indeed self evident, they would not need to be stated.

  7. Hear, hear! Well put, Sir, well put indeed.

  8. Never mind rights, how about responsibilities and consideration for others?

  9. Soubriquet, for a long time I have been searching for the words, and you sum it up easily in just a sentence.

    In my earlier posts on this subject, I have taken the position that these so-called human rights are not rights at all, by definition, but simply desireable conditions (the ones about food, clothing, and shelter, anyway.)

    People (my readers) so far have said that I just don't get it and am only playing at semantics. Thank you for so succinctly expressing what I was unable to do for a long time.

    Definitions DO matter. But every time I post a dictionary definition, I get shot down by people who say, "I don't agree with that definition" or "I define it differently," and I always wonder if they define other words contrary to the dictionary definition as well, to nicely fit their theories.

    If a person truly has a right to something, then he will HAVE that something.

    The whole point of this is to get people away from their "official lists", whether it be my readers, Blogger, or the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights." Let's not worry so much about people having a "right" to food; let's work to get people fed.

    They just ain't rights. They are desired conditions that many people hope someday will come to pass. Thanks again.

  10. Boris Legradic, you haven't been around me long enough to know that I don't believe these things are "rights." So I forgive you. :)

    I believe several things on the list are extremely desirable, though not actual rights. Some of the things on my list were take from other places, mostly from 19th century teachings on various theories of "Social Justice." A couple I have paraphrased to take jabs, just because that's the way I am.

    To address your specifics:

    The right to be a drug addict was a taunt at the "right" to have control over one's body, whether that means the right to an abortion or the right to get fat and die. I am a believer in personal responsibility and in "actions have consequences."

    The right to kill someone without having to worry about forfeiting one's own life as a consequence was another swipe at people who don't believe society should ever take a life for any reason. Some people who believe this are good people and their opinions are just as valid as mine. We just don't agree.

    The right not to serve in an army is a right desired by people who want to enjoy benefits while allowing others to sacrifice to make their good life possible. These people usually argue on the theoretical plane of talking and making peace rather than ever having wars. Theoretical plane to me means it sounds really good but when people come to kill you, they usually don't listen to your reasoning. Some countries don't need armies, agreed. Much fodder for debate on this one too. I even had one good friend make the statement that those in the military during war committed murder when they killed enemy soldiers. Again, dictionary definitions ARE important.

    The right to live where one wants to live, was misunderstood by more than one reader, and so it must be my fault in the wording. What I meant was that political borders shouldn't mean anything. Come and go as you please.

    The :"right" to have others speak to you in your preferred language was another jab at my own country where illegal Latin immigrants must be taught in Spanish. Like Mexico would teach MY kids in English if I moved there. Sure they would. The forms? California now prints it drivers license exam in something like 81 languages. Political correctness gone wild. Pure sarcasm on my part. Sorry.

    The right to park near the front door of Walmart if you are handicapped IS an actual right in my country. A "true" right.

    "True rights", in my estimation, are those which actually are enforced by law.

    I may have a "right" to go to the moon, but so what? Such unattainable things are simply not rights in my belief system and according to the dictionary. Soubriquet nailed it right on the head.



Related Posts with Thumbnails