Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Very Short Note on Rights, Privileges, Non-Aggression, and Charity

What distinguishes a (universal) right from a privilege is that there is nothing logically inconsistent about everyone exercising their right simultaneously, but an attempt on the part of one group to exercise their privilege logically prevents some other group from doing the same, since then the latter group is required to satisfy the privilege claims of the former. Think of the right to physical inviolability and inviolability of property as falling into the first category, and the "right" to health, job or education as falling into the second.

Also notice that the above implies that the "right to charity" is a logical howler, which is perfectly consistent with our intuitive understanding of engaging in charity as a morally praiseworthy activity, and our intuitive (though unfortunately not too often followed) understanding of non-aggression as a basic precondition of human cooperation, a precondition whose observance gives one no particular moral credit.

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