Every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering.

Whateverman

Well-known member
By the way, are you the same "Whateverman" who used to participate on Ray Comfort's blog? If so, I was there for quite a while as well, under my actual name or at least initials.
Wow, great memory. I am indeed :) Were you a member of SMRT back then, too?

I used this name when I first started hanging around CARM until one day I got a perma-ban for "spam", which was weird because I'd never spammed this board with anything. I then created a new one and have used it until THIS forum resurrected itself several times last year, which I took as the opportunity to revert my name back to the original...
 
PETA says they "believe that every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering."

I would like to hear from the atheists on this forum...

Does a zebra "have a right to live free from pain and suffering"?

I am curious if your answer would be the same as a lion's.
A 'right' is a human, legal concept. That is why your 'rights' differ from culture to culture and from nation to nation. Rights also change over time as cultures change over time.

I understand what PETA is saying but I personally think it is foolish to say all living things have a legal 'right' to live free from pain and suffering. I think it makes sense to have animal cruelty laws and to treat all living things fairly. But our world has a carnivorous food chain that even PETA cannot stop. I do not think a tuna violates the rights of a minnow when he eats it :)

Its an interesting question though - thanks :)
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
I agree. What took you so long to state that you do not think rights exist at all?

It's confined to human reality, not cosmic reality. So draw your kite back in if you please. Human rights are based on human realities, not legal fictions or cosmic universal principles.
Humans have a different reality to the cosmos? You're not making sense.
 

5wize

Well-known member
Humans have a different reality to the cosmos? You're not making sense.
Says the guy that states: "It's not so much that we disagree on where our rights originate. It's that I still don't even see what it means to say that I (or anybody/thing else) even has a right."

Is the issue the difference between the verbs "has" and "grant"? It sounds like you believe that you are only granted rights by legal vehicles and no rights are naturally part by the self. That's O.K. too. At least it's an understanding.
 
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5wize

Well-known member
A 'right' is a human, legal concept. That is why your 'rights' differ from culture to culture and from nation to nation. Rights also change over time as cultures change over time.
Do you believe these "rights as a human legal concept" have any underpinnings at all in the expression of an intrinsic human nature or are they just legal fictions?
 
Do you believe these "rights as a human legal concept" have any underpinnings at all in the expression of an intrinsic human nature or are they just legal fictions?
I think all laws are based on human nature. Laws and rights reflect what is important to that group of people - a culture, a nation, or a religious group. And since human nature can vary we see that laws and rights vary.

But usually the laws of a land reflect the human nature of the people of that land. For example in India not all animals have rights but elephants do. The elephant is important to the culture, the people, and their religion so they have bestowed rights on the elephant.

The USA has no such rights or laws for elephants. Its actually an interesting way to study a culture - study what they consider 'rights'.

:)
 

Furion

Active member
Do you believe these "rights as a human legal concept" have any underpinnings at all in the expression of an intrinsic human nature or are they just legal fictions?

You won't get hard atheists here to admit anything intrinsic in man aside from water, dirt and some chemicals.

Everything else is just arbitrary human constructs.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
Says the guy that states: "It's not so much that we disagree on where our rights originate. It's that I still don't even see what it means to say that I (or anybody/thing else) even has a right."

Is the issue the difference between the verbs "has" and "grant"? It sounds like you believe that you are only granted rights by legal vehicles and no rights are naturally part by the self. That's O.K. too. At least it's an understanding.
I have yet to even see the rationale about 'natural rights'. As far as I can tell the phrase means nothing beyond "something the entity would like to be able to do".

To my knowledge we are only granted rights by legal vehicles.
 

5wize

Well-known member
I have yet to even see the rationale about 'natural rights'. As far as I can tell the phrase means nothing beyond "something the entity would like to be able to do".

To my knowledge we are only granted rights by legal vehicles.
I've been thinking about it. I understand what you are saying. It does not add anything to the theory of survival (to return to the loin and the zebra) to declare that the zebra has any legal fiction in play when it acts in its own self defense. The zebra just does it.

That implies, to me at least, that we don't have natural rights, we have natural impulses from which our theories of rights originate.

So let me answer with a few days thinking behind me.

Does a zebra have a right to live unmolested? No, not in the world of legal fictions, but just try and stop it from doing so and you may be forced to grant it that right if not by an explicit declaration, at least by an implicit outcome. That's where the verbs "grant" and "have" come into play. Being kicked in the teeth, the lion may have to "grant" the zebra that which the zebra already thinks it "has".
 
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Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
I've been thinking about it. I understand what you are saying. It does not add anything to the theory of survival (to return to the loin and the zebra) to declare that the zebra has any legal fiction in play when it acts in its own self defense. The zebra just does it.

That implies, to me at least, that we don't have natural rights, we have natural impulses from which our theories of rights originate.

So let me answer with a few days thinking behind me.

Does a zebra have a right to live unmolested? No, not in the world of legal fictions, but just try and stop it from doing so and you may be forced to grant it that right if not by an explicit declaration, at least by an implicit outcome.
I do not know what you mean by 'legal fictions' in this context.

And no, the fact that I can't kill a zebra says nothing about any rights it has. Does the fact that a lion can kill a zebra say anything about what rights the zebra has? If so, what? And if not, why would my not being able to kill one do so?
 

5wize

Well-known member
I do not know what you mean by 'legal fictions' in this context.

And no, the fact that I can't kill a zebra says nothing about any rights it has. Does the fact that a lion can kill a zebra say anything about what rights the zebra has? If so, what? And if not, why would my not being able to kill one do so?
A legal fiction is some legal vehicle that allows something to exist in legal theory that really doesn't exist in reality. Example is an adoption decree. An adoption declares the natural father/mother no longer has a relationship to the child as a father/mother. This is not true in reality. In some cases marriage is a legal fiction. 2 people do not really become one, but there are cases where the court will treat the actions of a spouse as binding to the other as well.

You don't have to enjoy a right to have a right. You can be murdered where you sit right now. Did having a legal fiction declared about murder protect you in that instance? Does that mean the right didn't exist in reality even though you believe they do?
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
A legal fiction is some legal vehicle that allows something to exist in legal theory that really doesn't exist in reality. Example is an adoption decree. An adoption declares the natural father/mother no longer has a relationship to the child as a father/mother. This is not true in reality. In some cases marriage is a legal fiction. 2 people do not really become one, but there are cases where the court will treat the actions of a spouse as binding to the other as well.

You don't have to enjoy a right to have a right. You can be murdered where you sit right now. Did having a legal fiction declared about murder protect you in that instance? Does that mean the right didn't exist in reality even though you believe they do?
The right to not be murdered is granted by the legal jurisdiction you are under. It does not protect you from being murdered; it states that the state will punish the person who violated your right. That's what that right means.
 

5wize

Well-known member
The right to not be murdered is granted by the legal jurisdiction you are under. It does not protect you from being murdered; it states that the state will punish the person who violated your right. That's what that right means.
I know of no explicit declaration in my legal jurisdiction that I have a right to not be murdered. It just codifies what happens to a murderer. That doesn't grant me a right. It grants the government a right to punish. You are not making sense.

Are you referring to some UN declaration on my behalf for the right to life or the founding declaration in the US of unalienable rights one of them being life? If the later, what does unalienable mean if I can be murdered anyway? Did I suddenly become "alienated" from something? "What" was cleaved from "where" to alienate me from something if I didn't posses the right in and of myself to begin with?
 
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Whateverman

Well-known member
I know of no explicit declaration in my legal jurisdiction that I have a right to not be murdered. It just codifies what happens to a murderer.
Rights are expressed in terms of codified laws. The former tend to be positive statements (ie. "you have a right to <X>"), whereas the latter tend to be negative (ie. "You will be punished if you <not X>"). The two are clearly related, though not identical - but they can reasonably be equated as expressions of each other.

We ended our last exchange on this topic with a (hasty?) conclusion that you and I largely agreed, and while I didn't object to this conclusion, I confess I'm not sure that's a safe conclusion.
 

5wize

Well-known member
Rights are expressed in terms of codified laws. The former tend to be positive statements (ie. "you have a right to <X>"), whereas the latter tend to be negative (ie. "You will be punished if you <not X>"). The two are clearly related, though not identical - but they can reasonably be equated as expressions of each other.

We ended our last exchange on this topic with a (hasty?) conclusion that you and I largely agreed, and while I didn't object to this conclusion, I confess I'm not sure that's a safe conclusion.
So do codified laws point to some truth about us or are they detached from any such grounding?

I too am rethinking what we came to as a conclusion before.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
I know of no explicit declaration in my legal jurisdiction that I have a right to not be murdered. It just codifies what happens to a murderer. That doesn't grant me a right. It grants the government a right to punish. You are not making sense.

Are you referring to some UN declaration on my behalf for the right to life or the founding declaration in the US of unalienable rights one of them being life? If the later, what does unalienable mean if I can be murdered anyway? Did I suddenly become "alienated" from something? "What" was cleaved from "where" to alienate me from something if I didn't posses the right in and of myself to begin with?
Just forget it. If you don't think you have the legal right not to be murdered, I can't help you.
 
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