Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Very Brief Chat About the Nature of Rights and Humans

Reject the idea of transcendent, knowable moral truth and you must conclude that all moral judgments are simply expressions of personal or group preference. If the latter, then laws are merely codifications of the majority's tastes. Whatever is legal, according to this line of thinking, is right. Many abortion rights proponents, for example, quickly appeal to the legality of abortion as though that settles any dispute about the rightness or wrongness of the act.

Regardless of how vociferously one might espouse such a view, he or she is bound to betray it at some point. Inconsistency will rear its head somewhere if you patiently wait and attentively watch for it. The relativist will express disdain for laws he or she deems unjust or, as in the following brief exchange, will appeal to rights that exist independently of the law which naturally raises the question of their origin.


KP:
Hello, PT. Mind if I ask a question?

PT: It
depends on the nature of the question, but.... go ahead

KP: OK, thanks. Here's the question. Do you think that homosexuals have the right to same-sex marriages along with all of the benefits of marriage?

PT:
I certainly do. I see no reason to deny them that.

KP: So you believe that some people have rights that the law doesn't acknowledge?

PT:
Key word there: PEOPLE. I know JUST where you're going with this, and i don't acknowledge that a zef is a person.

KP: Fine. But as to my question, is your answer yes or no?

PT:
in the context of MY definition of people, yes. I think the law does not acknowledge the rights of certain groups of people.

KP: So rights are not necessarily dependent upon legislation?

PT:
Rights of PEOPLE shouldn't be, no.

KP: And if there are certain human rights that are not acknowledged by the law, do you think it's at all possible that there are certain human beings whose humanity the law doesn't acknowledge? What I'm asking is, does one's being a person/human being depend upon the law's recognizing him as such?

PT:
The law recognizes homosexuals as people, it simply doesn't recognize their right to marry becuse of their sexual preferences.

KP: That's not an answer to my question though.

PT:
It's the answer I'm giving you. It may not be the answer YOU want, but it IS my answer.

KP: If certain rights are not dependent upon legislation for their existence, why would anyone think that whether or not one is a human being is dependent upon the law?

4 comments:

unmuzzled said...

What about the idea that the loudest wheel gets the oil? Many laws have been made by powerful people with the knowledge of how to do so. Many groups have been wronged this way and indeed history is full of examples.

KP said...

You're right, unmuzzled. Relativism need not result in the majority's preferences being legislated. A powerful minority may just as well impose its wishes. Thanks.

jc said...

KP, Is PT a fictitious person?

KP said...

No, jc. Though I changed the name, this was an actual online exchange.