Freedom and Rights in Group Living

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Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 22nd, 2019, 5:23 am 

This was a short chapter in a book I published in 2007. So please ignore any references to earlier chapters.


WE LIKE TO THINK WE HAVE ‘FREEDOM’ AND WE LIKE TO THINK WE HAVE ‘RIGHTS’ in our society. But what do people mean when they start talking about their rights, and about this being a ‘free’ country?

I hear acquaintances talking about their rights as citizens not to be breath-tested or blood-tested by police, or to be forced to have vaccinations in the control of disease, or to be forced to have chest X-rays in national plans for tuberculosis eradication. Some Australian Aborigines claim they have ‘Land Rights’. Some people claim animals have rights.

You may have seen people on television being evicted from their properties because of inability to meet their mortgages, and claiming to the media that nobody has the right to evict them from their homes, even though they have signed the rights to their homes over to a bank for money.

You may have seen a similar incident wherein a wealthy poultry farmer was fined millions for continuing to sell his eggs outside of an Egg-Board system, and claiming that this was a ‘free’ country, and that he had every right to sell outside of the system.

In fact, the way people talk, you would think that in a ‘free’ country like ours, they have a right to do anything they wish to do, and that nobody has a right to tell them otherwise.

Let’s see what we can make out of all of this. The first thing I find my mind stumbling on is this notion of freedom.

DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS

Once again, we explore dictionary definitions, hoping to achieve a starting point. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1982) provides synonyms for freedom as personal liberty, non-slavery, civil liberty, independence.

The Webster's New Dictionary provides synonyms similarly as not under control or power of another, having liberty, independent, able to move in any direction, not burdened by obligation.

This does not help very much with our social concepts. Certainly, we are not independent when we have to pay taxes and when we can be conscripted to go to war, and when we do have to conform to the will of the majority in most things.

The Dictionaries are even more useless to us when it comes to defining Rights. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as just, fair treatment, while the New Webster's Dictionary does not even list the word.

As an alternative, we can look at what others have said about ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ over the millennia.

STATEMENTS OF RIGHTS

In Chapter 5, I suggested that all large populations of high density would have to possess rules of conduct to control our tendencies to behave according to our primitive drives.

Although archaeologists have suggested that high-density group living (as distinct from nomadic existence) has been around for about 10000 years, at the time of writing this, the oldest known tablets outlining laws relating to crime and punishment are known as the Code of Ur-Nammu. This code listed crimes and punishment and was drawn up most probably by King Ur of Nammu approximately 4000 years ago and written in the Sumerian language. A number of other tablets have been discovered in the Middle East including the Code of Hammurabi, the sixth King of Babylon, dated at about 1750 BCE. It was a list of approximately 280 deeds regarded as crimes against the best interests of the group along with specific punishments for those crimes. They represented the rights of citizens of the time.

It would be presumptuous to think that these were the first codes of conduct for groups of people living in high density, large population groups. We are dependent on records being discovered, and so far these are the earliest available.

The Ten Commandments of Moses have been dated at about 1300 to 1400 BCE. These were more in the nature of passive rights in that they listed the things that one could not do rather than the things one could do. The implication of the Commandment, for example, that says ‘Thou shall not kill’ was that you had a right NOT to be killed by anybody.

From approximately the years 262 to 232 Before the Common Era (BCE), Emperor Ashoki of India had edicts of behaviour chiselled into stone blocks, and placed in various strategic areas of his empire. He generally encouraged his subjects to follow the Buddhist principle of the Dhamma in being generous, kind and moral. There were specific edicts against living beings being slaughtered or used for sacrifice; provision was made for medicines to be made available to humans and animals; prisoners had to be unfettered and treated properly. He also gave some animals rights by declaring scores of species to be protected. This was possibly the first edict promoting the protection of fauna anywhere in the world.

So for 4000 years at least, evidence is available that large groups of people have had to abide by lists of rules.

One of the first documents on ‘Rights’, in the sense that it was an agreement between parties, was the Magna Carta, first drawn up in 1215. Its main purpose was to give English Barons the right to overrule the will of the King if they did not agree with his edicts. Apparently, King John renounced this Magna Carta as soon as the Barons left London, and thus initiated the first English Civil War. But it was re-introduced when King John died, without the clauses giving Barons the rights to overrule the King. It contained rules pertaining to inheritance, guardianship of estates, compensation, marriage of heirs, repayment of debts to Jews, taxes, the rights of law enforcers and of accused persons, standardisation of measurements, and of possession and dispossession of property.

The English Bill of Rights of 1689 spelt out a number of specific human rights. These included clauses such as freedom from new taxes being imposed by royal edict alone without agreement by Parliament, freedom to petition the monarch, freedom (for Protestants) to have arms for their defence, suitable to their class status and as allowed by law, freedom of speech in Parliament (parliamentary privilege), freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and freedom from excessive bail.

Seven decades later in America, Samuel Adams drew up a Statement of the Rights of the Colonists in 1772, which said “Among the Natural Rights of the Colonists were these: First a right to life, second to liberty, thirdly to property”.

Thomas Jefferson’s contribution in The Declaration of Independence in 1776 was that “We hold those truths to be self evident - that all men are created equal; that they are endowed with certain inaliable rights - that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In 1948, the United Nations produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It contains 30 Articles of Rights. Here are three examples. Article 1 states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Article 5 – “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” Article 24 – “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”

This United Nations Declaration looks good on paper, but it doesn’t really give us a notion of the overall principle of ‘Rights’. Ostensibly, the UN expects that all of its member nations will observe these rights in the establishment of their laws and constitutions. But the UN cannot insist that countries adopt them nor can it police infringements of them unless invited to do so. UN forces can only enter countries on request from that country. The only time enforcement against any particular country can come about without permission is if the Security Council determines that a country is of particular risk to world peace.

We really need a broader view of ‘freedom and rights’ and some better definitions. Let’s see what we can make of the terms, first by interpreting what some other more recent well known humans have said about them.

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID MORE RECENTLY ABOUT FREEDOM AND RIGHTS

A number of writers and poets have tried to express themselves in their interpretation of ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’.

Aldous Huxley, in Music at Night, stated that “There is no such thing as natural rights; there are only adjustments of conflicting claims”. As you will see later, my own conclusions converge with this view to a large extent.

More people have had something to say about ‘freedom’ than those who have had something to say about ‘rights’.

Jean Jacques Rousseau in The Social Contract, stated that “Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains”. This obviously is referring to the restrictions that civilisation places on expression of our innate drives.

Thomas Paine, in the American Crisis IV - “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting”. My last comment applies in this case as well. We have to support the rules of our communities.

Lord Byron in Childe Harold IV wrote “Yet, freedom! Yet thy banner, torn but flying. Streams like the thunderstorm against the wind.” What was he drinking before he exuded this gibberish?

Hartley Coleridge, in Liberty - “But what is freedom? Rightly understood, A universal licence to be good”. We have to support the rules of our communities.

Abraham Lincoln in his Annual message to Congress in 1862 said, “In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free - honourable alike in what we give and what we preserve”
.
Mark Twain in Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar - “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence not to use either”.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt in The Four Freedoms Address 1941 – “The first freedom is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way - everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want - everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear - everywhere in the world”. But from what we have said earlier, his ‘freedom from want’ maybe should have been limited to ‘freedom from need’.

George Orwell in 1984 - “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows”. Maybe he should have used the word ‘right’ instead of the second use of the word ‘freedom’.

Now if you are anything like me after reading the above, you will still not have a clear mental image of ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’.

There are times when single words such as ‘freedom’ or ‘rights’ do not conjure up in our minds an adequate enough image as a starting point. Now this ties in with everything we have spoken about earlier about how our minds work in imagery scenarios. If a single word does not conjure up an adequate scenario in our minds, then I feel that we have to begin our thinking about the subject by creating an actual scenario in our minds as a starting point for discussion.

TRY IMAGINING A SCENARIO WHERE SOMEONE HAS TOTAL FREEDOM

Let’s start afresh by using our imaginations. Let’s conjure up in our minds a picture of the most ideal state of freedom a human could experience. Just stop for a moment, and try picturing this in your own mind before you go any further. If you are having problems, read what I imagine.

My vision is of a single person on an island with adequate food and water, and with no desire to leave that island. The person has never heard of a god. The island is not owned by any nation. Now this person is totally free in every sense of the word. There is nobody there to tell that person what he or she should or should not do. The person has total free will and can do anything he or she likes to do. This is complete freedom, and it’s a good simplistic starting point for discussion. Can you disagree with this theoretical image of a very basic concept of freedom as it applies to a single person?

But it’s only a theoretical and imaginary scenario. This idyllic existence is not likely to be permanent when you stop to think about it.

Firstly, if the person is not under the protection of a State or Country, then any shipload of ruffians could land on the island and could do anything they like with this person - beat, rape, kill, throw him/her off the island or make them work as a slave or servant on the island. Under these circumstances, this person has no rights except for the rights given by the boatload of ruffians.

There are no such things as ownership or personal rights unless they are backed up by might. If you cannot defend it, you cannot keep it, whether it’s your assets or your life. This principle has always applied in the past, as it will in the future. It’s a universal law. We retain ownership of houses and property within our society only because we have backed each other up in principle through our laws and law enforcement power (or might). If Germany or Japan had been successful during the Second World War, they would have become the owners of anything of ours here in Australia that they desired. It’s as simple as that.

A next best scenario would be if the person is living alone on this island as a kind of caretaker for a State or Nation. In that case, the person would have the protection of that Nation but would no longer be free to do exactly as he/she would like to do. She would have to carry out his paid or allotted duties in the manner prescribed by the State or Nation (I’ll drop the gender correctness here).

A close third would be where a citizen of a nation has purchased an island freehold. Then he would be able to do much as he would like. Well, at least up to the point where he would have to conform to local Building Regulations, local Fauna and Flora Protection Acts, Shipping and Navigation Acts, Regulations with respect to the use and state of any boat or firearms he might have, and of course, he would have to act within the laws of the State toward any visitors. So how free would he be in this situation?

And also, how many people could afford to own an island to achieve the latter kind of freedom? The concept remains theoretical to most of us, because we find ourselves controlled in life to live in areas close to our places of employment.

WE HAVE TO HAVE RULES

If there is a need to have more than one person living together, harmoniously, without slavery, then we have to have rules. The reason for this is the fact that whether we like to admit it or not, we are all selfish and self-seeking by nature, as we concluded in Chapter 1. We are emotionally reactive by nature, as we discussed in the same chapter and in more depth in Chapter 3, and we need restrictions on these drives and emotions.

These restrictions on many of our interpersonal relationships appear in our culture in the form of Rules. Such Rules spell out our Rights. In our culture, most of our Rights are in fact spelt out in all of our Acts of Parliament which are enacted only if supported by greater numbers (Might). These Rights are man-made.

Where does freedom come into this picture of Rules and Rights? The difference between those countries regarded as totalitarian, from which people seek freedom, and democratic countries, is that in the former countries, the laws are drawn up by an appointed body of people or by a single dictator without the general populace having any say in their formation. In democratically elected governments, theoretically, we have an equal say in the formation of our laws. We all have a single vote in electing those persons we believe will support legislation that would be in our best interests at the time of each election.

For this system to work well, again theoretically, the implication is that we will accept the will of the majority.

All parties support legislation preventing us from reacting physically if the result does not go the way we would have liked. But on the other hand, there is also legislation which gives us the right to speak publicly, at times and in places listed as suitable by Local Government Bylaws, if we subsequently desire to change the decision of the majority. In democracies, nobody supports military force as a decision maker. All support eloquence of argument.

Local, State, and Federal Government bodies all produce Laws, Bylaws, and Regulations.

Institutions and Companies, and Unions, all have rules and regulations governing the ‘rights’ of staff, members and others associated with them. Committees and Clubs all have Constitutions and Bylaws listing our ‘rights’ as members. It seems safe to say that all groups of people have sets of rules listing what their members can and cannot do. In a democratic society, we have an equal right to stand for election to become leaders of these groups, and we have the same number of votes as everyone else in electing those we would like to represent us. In this way, we have a say in what ‘rights’, we, and everybody else, should have.

According to this reasoning, the word ‘freedom’ seems to mean ‘having an equal say with everyone else about our rights’.

MIGHT DETERMINES RIGHTS AT ANY GIVEN TIME

If the majority support a rule or bylaw, then that is a case of ‘might’ determining ‘rights’ at that time. This concept of ‘might determining rights’ does not just apply to democratic situations. It applies far more universally. It is the basis of the ‘pecking order’ within and between all species. It is the basis of the law applying when predatory animals kill other animals for food.

If a shark sees you and eats you, then the might of the shark has determined your rights at that time. If subsequently, the majority of people decide to kill that shark, then the might of a vengeful group of humans has determined the ultimate rights of the shark at that time. This time element means that rights are not intrinsic to any living being, but are determined by might at any given time.

If a mob of thugs corners you, the rights at issue at that time will be determined by either that mob of thugs or by yourself, depending on which of you is the stronger. If you happened to be a Steven Segal, you would determine the rights of all present at that time. If you are not, then you could be injured or killed. The might backing the rights of protection given to you by the law is not available at that time and it is the might of the thugs determining your rights on that occasion. Might determines rights at any given time.

Within families, household rules for children under legal age are determined, subject to existing State and Federal laws against abuse, by parents. Parents generally have might over children and thus determine the rules of behaviour in the home. Similar domestic codes spell out your rights of behaviour in boarding houses, motels and hotels; the might is the power of the landlord to reject you as a guest.

In democratic situations, rights are determined by the majority of persons, and spelled out in all of the rules that apply to you in every club, committee, group, or local, state, federal, or world authority with which you are involved. These rights are subject to change depending on the mood or inclination of the might that determines them at any given time.

If you do not live in a ‘free’ country, the best you can hope for is that the might that determines your rights is benevolent rather than malevolent.

So a right is whatever is determined by might at any given time. In this way, we can talk about long-term rights and immediate rights. In democratic situations, the long-term rights are spelt out in the rules determined by majority decisions at every level of our lives. Freedom is the right to have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern you in these situations.

Outside of human group living, nature determines rights.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 22nd, 2019, 7:02 am 

WE LIKE TO THINK WE HAVE ‘FREEDOM’ AND WE LIKE TO THINK WE HAVE ‘RIGHTS’ in our society. But what do people mean when they start talking about their rights, and about this being a ‘free’ country?


I'd say it was all distinctly relative. We're a lot freer than, say, a totalitarian society such as the old Communist regime. We can choose, more or less, what to do, where we we want to live, and so on. And I'm sure there are lots of other freedoms we could think of and that we probably take for granted.

I'm assuming that by freedoms we mean choice, of course. And by rights we mean the right not to be victimised in some way.

Personally I don't talk about 'my rights'. I think that's the province of tub-thumpers. I suppose there are some rights I have within the law but I'd have to be reminded of them. Off-hand, I wouldn't know. The only thing I can think of is consumer rights which do protect the customer, I suppose.

Possibly the idea of rights only comes up where there's injustice and one's freedom usurped in some way. If I was black, say, and kept getting stopped or no reason I'd almost certainly start thinking about rights.

It might be safer to say 'rights under the law' rather than rights as an abstract notion.

Apart from this sort of thing, I'm not sure what the issue is here or what question or problem you're proposing. Could you make that clearer?
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 22nd, 2019, 7:41 am 

charon » Wed May 22, 2019 9:02 pm wrote:
WE LIKE TO THINK WE HAVE ‘FREEDOM’ AND WE LIKE TO THINK WE HAVE ‘RIGHTS’ in our society. But what do people mean when they start talking about their rights, and about this being a ‘free’ country?


I'd say it was all distinctly relative. We're a lot freer than, say, a totalitarian society such as the old Communist regime. We can choose, more or less, what to do, where we we want to live, and so on. And I'm sure there are lots of other freedoms we could think of and probably take for granted.

I'm assuming that by freedoms we mean choice, of course. And by rights we mean the right not to be victimised in some way.

Personally I don't talk about 'my rights'. I think that's the province of tub-thumpers. I suppose there are some rights I have within the law but I'd have to be reminded of them. Off-hand, I wouldn't know. The only thing I can think of is consumer rights which do protect the customer, I suppose.

Possibly the idea of rights only comes up where there's injustice and one's freedom usurped in some way. If I was black, say, and kept getting stopped or no reason I'd almost certainly start thinking about rights.

It might be safer to say 'rights under the law' rather than rights as an abstract notion.

Apart from this sort of thing, I'm not sure what the issue is here or what question or problem you're proposing. Could you make that clearer?


Thanks Charon for the comments. When you say "And I'm sure there are lots of other freedoms we could think of and probably take for granted.", I'd be interested in hearing some because, as I see it we only have 'freedom' to do anything within the parameters of the rules of the various groups we are with at any given time. I think also that if you thought about it enough, you would realise that you are automatically expected to abide by household rules, driving rules etc etc as well as laws as I listed in the above dissertation.

Maybe you have just not thought about the extent to which your freedom is governed by rules that govern your 'rights' and 'freedom'. It moved Jean Jacques Rousseau in The Social Contract, to state that “Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains”.

I've broadened the dissertation on rights far more widely than 'under the law', because I've included the rights granted you by rules in clubs, institutions, at your workplace, hotels, etc, as well as in nature.

"Apart from this sort of thing, I'm not sure what the issue is here or what question or problem you're proposing. Could you make that clearer?" --- I've just been involved in a thread on Obligations and Rights, in which the implications are that rights are intrinsic and almost God-given. My rationalisation is that they are man-made in group living, and that as a generalisation, Might determines rights at any given time. It seemed to me that this rationalisation was too long to present as part of a chat.

To me, it's a matter of clear thinking. Did you read the full post?
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 22nd, 2019, 8:43 am 

When you say "And I'm sure there are lots of other freedoms we could think of and probably take for granted.", I'd be interested in hearing some


Well, I'm not sure I can off-hand because it's not something I think about. I've never lived in a repressive society, at least not one that impinged on me consciously.

There was a video some time ago, possibly on the BBC, where a refugee from North Korea was with the person who was looking after him. He kept nervously asking for permission to do various things and couldn't believe it when she laughed and said 'No, you can just go and do it!'.

you are automatically expected to abide by household rules, driving rules etc etc


Oh, obviously. But one expects those 'rules' to be reasonable and within the bounds of common sense. Where people live or work together there must be some framework for doing things and general behaviour. Some rules are necessary in any society or group. And if not rules then guidelines.

Maybe you have just not thought about the extent to which your freedom is governed by rules that govern your 'rights' and 'freedom'.


Well, as I say, luckily I haven't encountered a situation where one felt unduly or unfairly controlled. If I had I'm sure I'd be most troublesome :-)

“Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains”.


Ah, well, I'd say that was true, but more psychologically. The very freedom and lack of repression physically means he is able to think what he likes, believe what he likes, and to a large extent, do what he likes. And then, if he's not careful, he becomes a prisoner to that freedom.

I've included the rights granted you by rules in clubs, institutions, at your workplace, hotels, etc, as well as in nature.


As above, but I've no idea where nature comes into it. What does that mean precisely?

I've just been involved in a thread on Obligations and Rights


I know, I left you messages there.

My rationalisation is that they are man-made in group living


Obviously. I don't think the planets are ganging up on us. And if they were there's not much we could do about it!

Might determines rights at any given time


Obviously. Those in control have power over us. The question is: is it fair and reasonable? As I say, in this country (UK) I've never encountered a situation where I felt unduly oppressed. But then I'm just a normally behaved white man. Perhaps if I was young, black, not privileged, and so on, I'd think differently. I'm sure I would in many cases.

Did you read the full post?


To be honest, I skimmed it because it was very long. But I'm good at skimming. I'm sure I saw all the relevant bits. I'd certainly agree with this:

Freedom is the right to have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern you in these situations.


Mind you, being able to voice a demand doesn't mean it'll automatically be accepted. If I walked into my boss's office and said 'I want a longer lunch break, more pay, and a three-day week' I wouldn't be surprised if he asked me if I was feeling all right :-)
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 22nd, 2019, 9:58 am 

By the way, I see you make no mention of human rights.

Human rights are being abused all over the world, continuously. Torture, the rights of women, cruelty to animals, the abuse of children, of workers... the list is immense. There's no justice in this world.

What do you say to that?
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 22nd, 2019, 11:20 am 

Have you seen this? I don't think 'rights' are very high on their agenda. Unless they're their own, naturally.

https://news.sky.com/story/saudi-arabia ... d-11726158
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 22nd, 2019, 5:23 pm 

charon wrote:By the way, I see you make no mention of human rights.

Human rights are being abused all over the world, continuously. Torture, the rights of women, cruelty to animals, the abuse of children, of workers... the list is immense. There's no justice in this world.

What do you say to that?



Thanks Charon for the comments. The dissertation was mainly about human rights, within group-living, being man-made.

You stated "Human rights are being abused all over the world, continuously. Torture, the rights of women, cruelty to animals, the abuse of children, of workers... the list is immense. There's no justice in this world." If a totalitarian culture does not have rules or laws that people or animals have the right not to be abused or tortured, then it's open-slather -- as it was in the days of slavery and the early colonisations of the Americas and the Pacific Islands, including Australia in the last few centuries. And as it apparently still is in some totalitarian countries.

If people do not have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern them at any level, then they are not 'free'. Of course there is always non-compliance of one kind or another at every level of group living, so an unfortunate corollary, even of 'freedom', is that there has to be enforcement of one kind or another.

For example, we used to be able to give children a token smack as a negative stimulus for breaking the house rules (abusing their rights), we can be refused entry to many places for not adhering to dress codes (we have no right to dress differently), we can be expelled from clubs for breaking rules (we do not have the right to be non-conformist), we do not have the right to drive on the opposite side of the road to everyone else, or exceed speed limits, we can be sacked from our jobs for non-conformity with work practice, and of course we do not have the right to ignore laws at Local, State or Federal levels. There are penalties for non-compliance.

I hope the above at least partly answers your questions in your first post.

Re the link about Saudi Arabia in the second post -- I think it supports my contention that all rights are man-made.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 22nd, 2019, 7:04 pm 

If a totalitarian culture does not have rules or laws that people or animals have the right not to be abused or tortured, then it's open-slather


I had to look up open-slather! It means free-for-all. I hadn't heard that before.

I honestly don't know whether China, North Korea, or the Islamic countries have such rules or laws for 'rights'. I suspect they do have their own versions, like Saudi has Islamic laws. I also suspect that where crime, real or perceived, is involved, 'rights' take a back-burner and nobody's counting.

To our eyes many of those Islamic punishments are utterly barbaric and don't qualify as human rights in any real sense. The idea that a rape victim can be punished for having sex with strange men is beyond conception to us.

And apparently in North Korea, if you commit a crime, they not only put you away, they go after your family as well. Charming idea.

http://www.bbnpov.com/?p=904

https://www.hrw.org/asia/north-korea

But your statement said 'if' which isn't really a statement of anything actual.

If people do not have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern them at any level, then they are not 'free'. Of course there is always non-compliance of one kind or another at every level of group living, so an unfortunate corollary, even of 'freedom', is that there has to be enforcement of one kind or another.


Because freedom is not license and there must be laws. But as we said, all this sort of freedom is always relative to the particular society, the culture, various traditions and beliefs, and so on.

For example, we used to be able to give children a token smack as a negative stimulus for breaking the house rules (abusing their rights), we can be refused entry to many places for not adhering to dress codes (we have no right to dress differently), we can be expelled from clubs for breaking rules (we do not have the right to be non-conformist), we do not have the right to drive on the opposite side of the road to everyone else, or exceed speed limits, we can be sacked from our jobs for non-conformity with work practice, and of course we do not have the right to ignore laws at Local, State or Federal levels. There are penalties for non-compliance.


Well, all this is very simple.

I hope the above at least partly answers your questions in your first post.


Not quite, I'm afraid, we've just made a sort of list about rights and commented on it. But I asked what the issue or problem was about them.

In other words, why are we discussing rights?

my contention that all rights are man-made.


And you've concluded that they are entirely man-made. Maybe, but the fact that the concept of rights exists at all points to some recognition in us, however tenuous, that all living things deserve some kind of respect. I don't think we invented that. Perhaps it's biological.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 22nd, 2019, 10:22 pm 

Charon, thanks again for the comments. My contention was "that all rights in in human group living are man-made." I may have left out the group-living qualification. Might determines rights in Nature, and in democracies as well as Totalitarian States.

Those links you supplied for North Korea are shocking.

You asked -- "In other words, why are we discussing rights?"

I wrote a dissertation because my impression is that many people who talk about them have misconceptions about what they really are in the scheme of things. In that OP, I listed a number of these misconceptions as they apply in real life, in dictionaries, in constitutions and in some Statements by thinkers of the past.

As well as those, for example, this is an excerpt of one of Simone Weil's statement provided by Nick_A “The notion of obligations comes before that of rights, which is subordinate and relative to the former."
As you can deduce, my two cents worth says that rights (in the form of rules) come first and then the obligation to conform to the rules arises.

And this statement in the American Constitution -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. " There is no evidence that anyone is "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights", unless you are into Creation Science. If we are endowed with certain inalienable rights, then the Creator has failed miserably, because, to quote you, "Human rights are being abused all over the world, continuously. Torture, the rights of women, cruelty to animals, the abuse of children, of workers... the list is immense. There's no justice in this world."

What about Lord Byron in Childe Harold IV who wrote “Yet, freedom! Yet thy banner, torn but flying. Streams like the thunderstorm against the wind.” What was he drinking before he exuded this gibberish?

Having believed I had established a case for confused usage of the terms Freedom and Rights in the OP as they apply to Group Living, I started off totally from scratch and came up with interpretations that make sense to me.

Apparently not to some others!

I see my own rights and my freedom now clearly as something real and tangible and man-made as part of a feet-on-the-ground understanding of the life I lead among other people. Others may see it the same. I don't know. Yours is the only feedback I've had so far.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 23rd, 2019, 7:31 am 

You asked -- "In other words, why are we discussing rights?"

I wrote a dissertation because my impression is that many people who talk about them have misconceptions about what they really are in the scheme of things. In that OP, I listed a number of these misconceptions as they apply in real life, in dictionaries, in constitutions and in some Statements by thinkers of the past.


Okay, I see. Well, my feeling is that what 'many people think' is their business. As well as there being no justice in the world there's probably no sanity either. In fact, leave out the word probably!

But if we're talking dictionaries and constitutions then there may be a point to it. It's definitely wise to be clear about these things. Otoh, I don't really think the whole world is totally deluded so there will be some clarity and sanity somewhere.

I'm not sure that dictionaries are that wrong. They tend to be accurate.

My OED says that 'right' means 'morally good, in accordance with justice'.

(Obviously we're leaving out other meanings, like correct or the opposite of left, etc.)

I won't start posting every dictionary online, there are too many, but they all say that. You can obviously check that yourself and you probably have already.

But the dictionaries also have entries for human rights too. They also say the same, which is:

The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are considered to be entitled, often held to include the rights to life, liberty, equality, and a fair trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression.


https://www.thefreedictionary.com/human+rights

Well, you see the problem here. When we start using words like considered to be, believe, assumed, and so on, it opens a whole can of worms.

For one thing there's an obvious massive disconnect between the belief that all humans are entitled to respect and freedom and the fact that nobody actually gives a damn.

We should respect others but we don't. We should all love each other but we don't. We should all behave well but we don't. We should be feeding, clothing and sheltering everybody but we're not. We should all be wonderfully virtuous but we're not.

Don't ask me, I've no idea :-)

There's this huge dichotomy between the ideals of virtue and the way we actually behave. But it does seem as though virtue has a point. It's not something to be dismissed. We'd be less than human if we dismissed it.

It's an almost impossible problem and I'm not sure I know the answer to it. After all, it's been debated for centuries. In the end I suspect it's just generally accepted that virtue is the correct standard but very few actually live it.

(I've a feeling this won't end here...!)
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby Nick_A on May 23rd, 2019, 2:55 pm 

I see I will have to juggle two threads. On this one it seems necessary to explain further what freedom and individualism are. On the other thread it seems necessary to explore how these core beliefs pertain to freedom and American core beliefs as well as how to sustain them. Not so easy. I'll begin with an explanation of freedom i agree with:

FREEDOM – Americans commonly regard their society as the freest and best in the world. Americans’ understanding of freedom is shaped by the Founding Fathers’ belief that all people are equal and that the role of the government is to protect each person’s basic “unalienable” rights. The U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights assures individual rights, including provisions for freedom of speech, press and religion. No one single church dominates or controls in the US, there is a religious diversity.


Rights do not originate with Man or governments. We have basic unalienable rights that exist regardless of our actions. The cannot be given or taken away. A free society expands on them in the spirit of these unalienable rights such as freedom of the press which is created by people. Defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are essential for Man to remain free. The glorification of the collective is the chief opposition to freedom. Blind adherence to their rules and values oppose the concept of individualism and the freedom to be an individual.

INDIVIDUALISM – Americans’ notion of freedom focuses on the individual, and individualism has strong philosophical roots in America. Thomas Jefferson believed that a free individual’s identity should be held sacred and that his or her dignity and integrity should not be violated. America’s 19th c. Transcendentalists philosophers (Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller) argued for more individual self-reliance. Encouraged individuals to trust in themselves and their own consciences and to revolt against routine and habitual paths of conduct. Early 20th c. Pragmatists (James, Dewey) insisted upon the individual’s ability to control his or her fate. Individualism, understood not only as self-reliance but also as economic self-sufficiency, has been a central theme in American history (frontiers heroes who braved the wilderness alone, farmers whose success depended on their ability to confront the hardships of land and resourcefulness, the celebration of the small businessman who became a financial success on his own; individual proprietorship in business is still extolled as the ideal). + “Self-made man” like B.Franklin.


The modern progressive movement struggles against individualism while supporting collectivism in which a person's identity and values are determined by the collective they are a part of. From Merriam Webster

Definition of collectivism
1 : a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution
also : a system marked by such control
2 : emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity


From the collective perspective the government defines rights of a collective and the rest have the obligation to obey them. the government has replaced universal values in deciding unalienable rights.

So from the collective perspective, governments create rights and people have the obligation to obey them. From Simone's perspective as well s the classic American perspective, unalienable rights are a universal constant which the government and individuals have the obligation to support in its citizen's quest for responsible individuality
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 23rd, 2019, 7:45 pm 

Charon, once again I thank you.

If you look again at those 'definitions' on 'rights' and 'human rights', you will see that they in fact expressions of ideals. They don't really explain what freedom and rights are in group living in the real world, do they?

What I aimed to do in that dissertation, after commenting on personal views of people about their rights, on historic real world Statements of Rights over the millennia, on Dictionary Definitions, and on what past thinkers have had to say about them, I started in the real world by asking readers to imagine any situation in which a person could have total freedom.

I expressed the best that I could imagine, and virtually came to the conclusion that there are no such things as rights without other people. And that if we have more than one person living together (forgive the grammar) AND IF THEY WISH TO LIVE TOGETHER IN HARMONY, THEY HAVE TO HAVE RULES. These rules then spell out their rights -- whether they are implied, written or spoken does not matter.

If one person dominates the other/s, then might determines the rights of the other/s.

I believe it's a feet-on-the-ground discussion of freedom and rights.

Discussion of the terms only at the level of government is important, but taking too shallow a view of the subject.

Think about your everyday life. When you are a child, you generally do what your parents allow you to do and you do not do what they ask you not to do. These are the rules you abide by and which express your rights as a child. You are not free to do as you wish. Stepping outside of your rights is usually punished by negative stimuli of one kind or another.

Think about your workplace. There are rules about the times that you work, and the times that you have breaks, and about many other things. You do not have the right to just turn up any time you like, because the rules state otherwise. You are not free even to change the rules of your workplace unless you have been given an equal say with management about your working conditions. Trade Unions of course act on your behalf in making sure that you have reasonable rights.

If you use your car for commuting, you don't just drive on any side of the road, at any speed that suits you, or ignore intersection signs. You are not free to do so. Your rights when driving are spelt out in Motor Traffic Acts Regulations.

Clubs and restaurants etc all have dress codes and other rules. You do not have the right to enter in certain kinds of attire. You may be refused entry.

You do not have the right to just put up any building on your block of land, in residential areas at least, unless it confirms to local council regulations and by-laws (rules).

I'm sure you could think of many more scenarios of everyday living where do not have the right or the freedom to do many things.

We are 'in chains' as one thinker said, but maybe we become so accustomed to just following the rules or adhering to the limits of our 'rights' that we become habituated to them and don't think about them any more -- like driving a car on auto pilot?

The best we can aim for, in the way of freedom, as I see it is that we have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern us. In democracies, I see voting rights as an attempt to give everyone a 'fair go'. It's not ideal but it works in Australia.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 23rd, 2019, 7:50 pm 

Nick_A, I usually thank people for comments, but in this case you have not made any comments about my reasoning in my OP. You appear to have ignored everything I said and just stated your own views on the topic. Once again, you talk in sweeping assertions as premises, without evidence. I'm sorry, but this does not call for a chat.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby Nick_A on May 23rd, 2019, 8:12 pm 

doogles » May 23rd, 2019, 7:50 pm wrote:Nick_A, I usually thank people for comments, but in this case you have not made any comments about my reasoning in my OP. You appear to have ignored everything I said and just stated your own views on the topic. Once again, you talk in sweeping assertions as premises, without evidence. I'm sorry, but this does not call for a chat.



If there is a need to have more than one person living together, harmoniously, without slavery, then we have to have rules. The reason for this is the fact that whether we like to admit it or not, we are all selfish and self-seeking by nature, as we concluded in Chapter 1. We are emotionally reactive by nature, as we discussed in the same chapter and in more depth in Chapter 3, and we need restrictions on these drives and emotions.

These restrictions on many of our interpersonal relationships appear in our culture in the form of Rules. Such Rules spell out our Rights. In our culture, most of our Rights are in fact spelt out in all of our Acts of Parliament which are enacted only if supported by greater numbers (Might). These Rights are man-made.

Where does freedom come into this picture of Rules and Rights? The difference between those countries regarded as totalitarian, from which people seek freedom, and democratic countries, is that in the former countries, the laws are drawn up by an appointed body of people or by a single dictator without the general populace having any say in their formation. In democratically elected governments, theoretically, we have an equal say in the formation of our laws. We all have a single vote in electing those persons we believe will support legislation that would be in our best interests at the time of each election.

For this system to work well, again theoretically, the implication is that we will accept the will of the majority.

All parties support legislation preventing us from reacting physically if the result does not go the way we would have liked. But on the other hand, there is also legislation which gives us the right to speak publicly, at times and in places listed as suitable by Local Government Bylaws, if we subsequently desire to change the decision of the majority. In democracies, nobody supports military force as a decision maker. All support eloquence of argument.

Local, State, and Federal Government bodies all produce Laws, Bylaws, and Regulations.

Institutions and Companies, and Unions, all have rules and regulations governing the ‘rights’ of staff, members and others associated with them. Committees and Clubs all have Constitutions and Bylaws listing our ‘rights’ as members. It seems safe to say that all groups of people have sets of rules listing what their members can and cannot do. In a democratic society, we have an equal right to stand for election to become leaders of these groups, and we have the same number of votes as everyone else in electing those we would like to represent us. In this way, we have a say in what ‘rights’, we, and everybody else, should have.

According to this reasoning, the word ‘freedom’ seems to mean ‘having an equal say with everyone else about our rights’.

As I've been pointing out, this isn't freedom as i understand it but only a function of what can preserve freedom. Most prefer statist slavery until they experience the horrors of it. When they vote in favor of slavery how does it serve the cause of freedom? That is why I provided my definition of freedom for comparison. You can reject it as most do in these times when collectivism is the rage of the day
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby TheVat on May 23rd, 2019, 9:30 pm 

doogles » May 23rd, 2019, 4:50 pm wrote:Nick_A, I usually thank people for comments, but in this case you have not made any comments about my reasoning in my OP. You appear to have ignored everything I said and just stated your own views on the topic. Once again, you talk in sweeping assertions as premises, without evidence. I'm sorry, but this does not call for a chat.


This kind of posting, from Nick, violates our terms of membership. I have spotted, by now, several dozen such violations, spread through at least ten threads. I have issued a constructive suggestion where I could, and asked this member to respect our rules of discourse. Nothing seems to work, and several members have been stonewalled by repeated sweeping assertions, misinformed caricatures of science and modern philosophy, presuming of agreement where none exists, and failures to respond to direct challenges to definitions and reasoning. Also, the use of "secularism" as a sort of whippable strawman is unbecoming of anyone who claims to seek a real conversation about the big ideas.

I should have pulled the plug when he rode in and began to falsely represent the range of views on abortion rights (and statutes on the books) in the US, never really conceding any point of correction from others. Shortly thereafter, he took a perch on a soapbox, in multiple threads, often giving little more than out of context quotes of Einstein and Simone Weil. Those who didn't see the brilliance, or topic relevance, were either ignored or dismissed as unenlightened, trapped in Plato's cave, mired in animal consciousness. Whatever one can say about such gambits, they most assuredly cause most people to leave the thread (or never join in).
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby Serpent on May 24th, 2019, 12:09 am 

On the one hand - Oh, thank you!
On the other - What now?
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 24th, 2019, 3:07 am 

doogles -

If you look again at those 'definitions' on 'rights' and 'human rights', you will see that they in fact expressions of ideals. They don't really explain what freedom and rights are in group living in the real world, do they?


Quite, they don't, they simply define the word. But I think it's a bit more subtle than that.

Basically the word has both a factual and a moral meaning, let's put it that way, which is a pointer to how the word or idea of rights should be used. Those wishing to claim, or complain, about their rights have to do so in a bona fide context.

If the law says I should be paid X amount for certain work, and I am not being paid that, I have the right to complain. If I am being bullied by my employer, let us say, I have the right not to be bullied as a moral precept that is understood by right-thinking people.

There's no factual basis for the moral sense, it's just something understood between themselves by decent human beings. The problem arises when that's ignored, not acknowledged, or otherwise neglected.

Our discussion, it seems to me, is about this area because its source is unclear. Although the moral idea exists that it's wrong to, say, bully someone it doesn't stop it happening. You can't call the police!

The advice to people generally is simply to leave that situation and go elsewhere. Which releases one from the problem but puts one into unemployment and loss of income. Such a person is then victimised twice, as it were. Although in extreme cases it's possible to take it to law not many go down that route as it's stressful and simply easier not to bother.

The moral area is always tricky.

if we have more than one person living together (forgive the grammar) AND IF THEY WISH TO LIVE TOGETHER IN HARMONY, THEY HAVE TO HAVE RULES.


I think we're both in complete agreement with that.

We are 'in chains' as one thinker said, but maybe we become so accustomed to just following the rules or adhering to the limits of our 'rights' that we become habituated to them and don't think about them any more


I'm not going to bow to the 'chains' idea. I've always seen it as my look-out if I suffer or not. I think - in fact I know - that it's how one responds to a situation that usually determines its outcome.

I don't consider it an imposition to abide by the law. But, as I said in my very first post, I haven't been in a position endured by many people in this and other countries where terrible injustice is rife and there's little or no comeback.

But day-to-day most of us do encounter wrong decisions, awkward people, and injustices. But it's up to us how we then behave. We can either moan, complain, suffer, become self-piteous, bitter and resentful, or do the other thing.

The best we can aim for, in the way of freedom, as I see it is that we have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern us. In democracies, I see voting rights as an attempt to give everyone a 'fair go'. It's not ideal but it works in Australia.


Well, this is essentially all about freedom, as you say. There's the freedom outwardly and the freedom inwardly. The inward freedom is more important because it may determine how one responds to difficult situations outwardly.

Life is certainly not just the outer, it's the whole movement. A free mind will not divide the outer from the inner. If life is approached from a fixed and rigid point of view then it will create problems, usually blamed on the outer rather than itself.

But if one understands the whole meaning of freedom then it can deal with life in a way that doesn't create any problem. I think that's the whole meaning of intelligence.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 24th, 2019, 6:52 pm 

Charon, thank you once again.

When you said "If the law says I should be paid X amount for certain work, and I am not being paid that, I have the right to complain. If I am being bullied by my employer, let us say, I have the right not to be bullied as a moral precept that is understood by right-thinking people.", you got me thinking."

You spoke about a person's moral right NOT to be bullied.

My aim in the opening dissertation was to make sense of what freedom and rights actually are in the real world of group living. My sort of conclusion was that our rights are spelt out in the (probably) hundreds of thousands of man-made rules we have to comply with that define our parameters of behaviour and conduct at every level of our everyday lives.

The reason we have so many of these rules is that we are not born as kind and considerate gentle beings. I referred to Chapter 1 of the book that contains the dissertation of the OP in a later chapter. I make the case, using real world examples that we are born with ALL of the same primitive hard-wired DRIVES as every other animal from reptiles upwards in the phylogenetic order of things. A drive to be high in the pecking order is one of these. Sex drives are also on the list. Rules have to be brought into our lives to curb our primitive drives and urges while we are living with other people. As you know we have to urinate and defecate in designated places. We get potty trained from early ages.

(Please don't get into a chat about 'primitive drives' here, because it will derail the 'freedom and rights' thread. A small mention is needed to put bullying into a perspective)

The interesting thing you've reminded me about Charon is that we don't have good rules yet about 'pecking order' drives, which to my mind, is the basis of 'bullying'. Certainly we have many rules that give us the right not to be assaulted or killed, but we have nothing solid in the way rules against subtle psychological bullying. Even in the area of children being physically bullied by their peers here in Australia, mostly at schools, the best that seems to have been done is to give others the 'right' to report incidents. But the incidence of bullying stays about the same. In cases of the sexual abuse in children, it is now obligatory to report cases. We do not have the right to sweep knowledge of it under the carpet any more.

Psychological bullying seems to me to be fairly rife between married couples, between public servants and the public, certainly in workplaces and maybe plenty of other areas. It is the basis of many 'isms', including racism and sexism etc. Maybe terrorism is an attempt at psychological bullying. We do have rules now against racism and terrorism, but they are still difficult to police.

But we have no hard and fast rules and therefore NO 'rights' against being psychologically bullied. As you implied, Charon, in the workplace you almost have to walk away from it. Morally, it shouldn't happen, but in many cases, the bullying is quite subtle (we human beings can be quite deceitful). I can't personally think of any rules we could conjure up and enforce.

It's probably a good example of a situation where there are no man-made rules and therefore no rights against being psychologically bullied anywhere we go. People can talk 'moral', 'God-given', and 'inalienable' rights all they like, but it seems that unless we can formulate and enforce a man-made rule against something, we have no rights of protection in that area.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 24th, 2019, 9:50 pm 

The reason we have so many of these rules is that we are not born as kind and considerate gentle beings
.

That's one reason but it's not the only reason. I don't think it's the chief reason either. Most rules are simply for structure. It's good in an institution, for example, that meal times or bedtimes are set. Behavioural issues come much further down the list.

Even if we were kind and considerate there would still have to be a framework for communal living. Cleaning rotas, all kinds of things. Kind and considerate people would actually welcome such a structure, not reject it.

That's probably the main point, really.

But we have no hard and fast rules


There are certainly anti-bullying rules in schools now and there are certainly procedures in the workplace for dealing with bullying and harassment issues.

https://www.gov.uk/bullying-at-school

https://www.bullying.co.uk/advice-for-schools/

https://www.gov.uk/workplace-bullying-and-harassment

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-an ... g-at-work/

There's also this, just to be balanced.

http://www.essentialkids.com.au/educati ... 520-h1el1p


I must be honest, I still don't know why we're discussing this. What has prompted this discussion?
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 25th, 2019, 2:52 am 

Charon, you stated "I must be honest, I still don't know why we're discussing this. What has prompted this discussion?"

You asked this question once before and I answered it as if you were asking why I had commenced a thread on the this topic. So I now need to clarify what you mean.

The obvious first response which I ignored last time was that we were discussing this because you had made comments about my posts and seemed to be happy to chat. But nah!, that couldn't be it.

Perhaps you mean the discussion about bullying. I got onto that tack because you posted previously
"If the law says I should be paid X amount for certain work, and I am not being paid that, I have the right to complain. If I am being bullied by my employer, let us say, I have the right not to be bullied as a moral precept that is understood by right-thinking people.

There's no factual basis for the moral sense, it's just something understood between themselves by decent human beings. The problem arises when that's ignored, not acknowledged, or otherwise neglected.

Our discussion, it seems to me, is about this area because its source is unclear. Although the moral idea exists that it's wrong to, say, bully someone it doesn't stop it happening. You can't call the police!

The advice to people generally is simply to leave that situation and go elsewhere. Which releases one from the problem but puts one into unemployment and loss of income. Such a person is then victimised twice, as it were. Although in extreme cases it's possible to take it to law not many go down that route as it's stressful and simply easier not to bother.

The moral area is always tricky."
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 25th, 2019, 7:50 am 

Doogles -

No, I mean what in you has prompted the thread on Rights. All you say at the beginning is 'This was a short chapter in a book I published in 2007'.

I just wondered what prompted you to revisit the subject. Something must have!

I don't mean we shouldn't discuss it, of course, but having done a few posts now I can't help wondering what was behind it all. There was the other thread and this may be an off-shoot of that.

I just like to know why I'm discussing something, not just start without really knowing why.

Quite often the answer to 'why' gives an insight into the problem because problems are always relative and related to other things in real life.

It doesn't matter, you might not even know!
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 25th, 2019, 8:03 am 

Anyway, here are a few more thoughts on it.

The subject's been very well covered already on the other thread and here. I'm pretty sure we all agree on most fundamental things, like there should be rights in a world where people aren't very nice to each other, and so on. And the same with rules.

I think it's interesting that families don't talk about rights, or not normal ones anyway. It's only rebellious teenagers that start screaming about their 'rights' in a family situation. And they're just being a bit silly!

But the issue of rights does crop up in non-family situations where people who don't really have any natural affinity are all lumped together. Work, society, you name it. And there are the abuses... etc etc.

But you did say something in your first post here:

The first thing I find my mind stumbling on is this notion of freedom.


I think the issue of freedom is more important than rights. If everyone were free, with all that that implies, probably the issue of rights wouldn't exist, or be very limited to daily practicalities.

What is freedom? We should discuss this. Now, of course, there's no such thing. Would you agree to that? It's an idea in contradiction to the fact of restriction- which may not be a restriction at all if one understood it.

Only those in bondage talk of freedom. If everyone were free there'd be no need to talk about it. The issue only arises because there's no freedom anywhere.

We can be more or less free, but that's all. Democratic societies are freer than repressive ones but even within the so-called free world there's no absolute freedom. Indeed, there may be no such thing.

So what is freedom? Would you care to answer that?
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby PaulN on May 25th, 2019, 10:16 am 

viewtopic.php?nomobile=1&f=53&t=29105

Seems to be a recurring thread here.

Freedom is being able to swing your arms, with the wisdom to know that freedom stops at my nose.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 25th, 2019, 11:06 am 

Different thread from 2015, lasted 12 posts. Hardly recurring. You're probably drunk.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby PaulN on May 25th, 2019, 1:58 pm 

Not really. It was one small sample from several threads, all on the topic of freedom and rights. I was not presenting it as a precise parallel to any other thread, but to offer members a chance to review some of the related issues that have been discussed here.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 25th, 2019, 5:53 pm 

PaulN - Thank you for that. Before I posted the OP, I used the Search box under 'Freedom and Rights' and received thousands of instances where the words were used within posts. It revealed nothing about titles. You've made me realise that maybe I should have searched via 'Forums'. Apologies.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 25th, 2019, 6:09 pm 

Charon , thank you for the clarification - "I just wondered what prompted you to revisit the subject. Something must have! I don't mean we shouldn't discuss it, of course, but having done a few posts now I can't help wondering what was behind it all. There was the other thread and this may be an off-shoot of that."

Yes it was. I was having dialogue in the topic of 'Obligations and Rights' and kept getting responses about 'Rights' suggesting that they were something 'God-given', 'Moral' and 'Inalienable' and all that sort of stuff. As you can see, I believe that Rights are real-life man-made, feet-on-the ground notions. I was getting nowhere in that thread, and in the last post I made there, suggested that I may have to commence a new thread (in order to bypass Nick_A's persistent responses at the vague, ethereal level). Since I had already written a dissertation on Freedom and Rights as a short chapter for a book about 20 years ago, I thought it appropriate to use it as the OP.

I agree almost totally with you on "What is freedom? We should discuss this. Now, of course, there's no such thing. Would you agree to that? It's an idea in contradiction to the fact of restriction- which may not be a restriction at all if one understood it."

In fact 50% of my OP was on the notion of 'Freedom'. About half way through the dissertation, I started by asking the reader to try to imagine any scenario in which they would be able to do as they liked and built up a case from there. I described the only scenario I could imagine in which a person could do anything where-ever, whenever and however they liked, and then built up the possibilities from there. I came to the conclusion that in group living this is the only way the notion can be interpreted -- 'Freedom' is the right (by rules) to have an equal say with everyone else about the rules that govern them at every level of group living. My thoughts on this, and of course my answer to your question of "So what is freedom? Would you care to answer that?" starts in the OP at --

"TRY IMAGINING A SCENARIO WHERE SOMEONE HAS TOTAL FREEDOM
Let’s start afresh by using our imaginations. Let’s conjure up in our minds a picture of the most ideal state of freedom a human could experience. Just stop for a moment, and try picturing this in your own mind before you go any further. If you are having problems, read what I imagine. ...... "
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 25th, 2019, 6:52 pm 

The person has total free will and can do anything he or she likes to do. This is complete freedom, and it’s a good simplistic starting point for discussion.

Can you disagree with this theoretical image of a very basic concept of freedom as it applies to a single person?


I'm afraid I can!

You're saying that if a person has total free will then they are free. That is, they can do exactly what they like all the time.

Is that freedom? Is freedom license? Can any of us, desert island or not, do whatever we like all the time? Your person will be compelled by life to do certain things. They'd have to find food, clothes and shelter. They may be plagued by insects and other dangers. And it's going to get very boring lying around all day once these needs are met.

Will they just accept being stuck on an island or seek escape? Which means the sight of a boat in the distance may cause some alarm.

We're also supposing they are alone on the island. What if they're not? What if natives suddenly appear? And what if they're unfriendly?

No one can do as they like all the time, no one. 'Doing what you like' is license, not freedom, and isn't possible anyway. So that's that.

I know you cover that in your next sections but you only describe it, you don't go any further on the subject of freedom. But there's a lot more, a great deal more.

*********************

I have to say I'm finding this a little frustrating, doogles. I'm putting time and effort into these replies and getting nothing in return. This is not the first post where I've taken up your points and contributed further on them but you haven't really taken up mine. The traffic seems to be one way.

In a way you have answered some of my questions but only to refer back to things already said. As I said before, it's like making a list of things and going no further.

To put it another way, it's like looking at an interesting box and marvelling at its fabric, speculating on its contents, wondering where it came from... all sorts of things, but never looking inside it.

Yes, your replies answer my posts but only so far as a box is ticked. You don't grab the subject and take off! I see you referring back but I don't see you THINKING.

For example, your conclusion is that all rights are man-made. Obviously, but how does this moral sense arise? We take it for granted that decent people think this way but how come? Why aren't we all running around doing what the hell we like and just following our base instincts?

And there's the fact of this great disparity between our wonderful ideas of righteous behaviour and how we actually behave. But which is real? Our actual behaviour is the reality, not the ideals.

Then I wrote a lot about the 'chains' idea but I've had no comment on that at all.

Then, probably the most important point of all, is what I said about freedom:

Well, this is essentially all about freedom, as you say. There's the freedom outwardly and the freedom inwardly. The inward freedom is more important because it may determine how one responds to difficult situations outwardly.

Life is certainly not just the outer, it's the whole movement. A free mind will not divide the outer from the inner. If life is approached from a fixed and rigid point of view then it will create problems, usually blamed on the outer rather than itself.

But if one understands the whole meaning of freedom then it can deal with life in a way that doesn't create any problem. I think that's the whole meaning of intelligence.


I'm certain you know very well that freedom isn't license but you don't enlarge on that. Go further, probe the subject. Don't go back to your book, think about it afresh. Look into the box. We could easily spend a whole thread discussing about freedom and intelligence!

Getting me to read and re-read your book isn't a discussion. If you think it is, I'll just start posting links to things I've said before....

And that's how to kill your brain.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby doogles on May 25th, 2019, 11:27 pm 

Charon -- Your last post was interesting in that it painted an unflattering picture of myself. One of the many things I'm happy about in life is that I have right to defend myself, which I will attempt to do. Anyhow if you are unhappy with my responses, our correspondence is obviously getting out of 'synch'. I can see now that instead of referring you back to the OP, I may have achieved more by copying and pasting what I actually said.

I have the impression that you are still just skimming, and extrapolating in your mind what I have or have not said. At the end of your previous post, you asked me "So what is freedom? Would you care to answer that?"

So I said that I had covered that in the OP and suggested where you should start reading. You apparently read that starting paragraph and no more.

For example, you quote me as saying "You're saying that if a person has total free will then they are free. That is, they can do exactly what they like all the time." No! I described the best scenario that I could of a person with total freedom, and then went on to discuss the limitations off that kind of freedom.

You appear to have read as far as the sentence "Can you disagree with this theoretical image of a very basic concept of freedom as it applies to a single person?", because you then responded "Yes I can", and then went on to say -- "Is that freedom? Is freedom license? Can any of us, desert island or not, do whatever we like all the time? Your person will be compelled by life to do certain things. They'd have to find food, clothes and shelter. They may be plagued by insects and other dangers. And it's going to get very boring lying around all day once these needs are met. Will they just accept being stuck on an island or seek escape? Which means the sight of a boat in the distance may cause some alarm. We're also supposing they are alone on the island. What if they're not? What if natives suddenly appear? And what if they're unfriendly? No one can do as they like all the time, no one. 'Doing what you like' is license, not freedom, and isn't possible anyway. So that's that."

If you'd actually read further, you would have realised that you were saying almost exactly what I had said. You obviously did not read the following --
"But it’s only a theoretical and imaginary scenario. This idyllic existence is not likely to be permanent when you stop to think about it.

Firstly, if the person is not under the protection of a State or Country, then any shipload of ruffians could land on the island and could do anything they like with this person - beat, rape, kill, throw him/her off the island or make them work as a slave or servant on the island. Under these circumstances, this person has no rights except for the rights given by the boatload of ruffians.

There are no such things as ownership or personal rights unless they are backed up by might. If you cannot defend it, you cannot keep it, whether it’s your assets or your life. This principle has always applied in the past, as it will in the future. It’s a universal law. We retain ownership of houses and property within our society only because we have backed each other up in principle through our laws and law enforcement power (or might). If Germany or Japan had been successful during the Second World War, they would have become the owners of anything of ours here in Australia that they desired. It’s as simple as that.

A next best scenario would be if the person is living alone on this island as a kind of caretaker for a State or Nation. In that case, the person would have the protection of that Nation but would no longer be free to do exactly as he/she would like to do. She would have to carry out his paid or allotted duties in the manner prescribed by the State or Nation (I’ll drop the gender correctness here).

A close third would be where a citizen of a nation has purchased an island freehold. Then he would be able to do much as he would like. Well, at least up to the point where he would have to conform to local Building Regulations, local Fauna and Flora Protection Acts, Shipping and Navigation Acts, Regulations with respect to the use and state of any boat or firearms he might have, and of course, he would have to act within the laws of the State toward any visitors. So how free would he be in this situation?

And also, how many people could afford to own an island to achieve the latter kind of freedom? The concept remains theoretical to most of us, because we find ourselves controlled in life to live in areas close to our places of employment.
"

This makes me think that you did not read, but only skimmed, what I said. We have virtually both independently come to the same conclusion after the island scenario.

You also said "I'm certain you know very well that freedom isn't license but you don't enlarge on that." I did enlarge on that, starting from

"WE HAVE TO HAVE RULES …"
Three paragraphs later -- "Where does freedom come into this picture of Rules and Rights? The difference between those countries regarded as totalitarian, from which people seek freedom, and democratic countries, is that in the former countries, the laws are drawn up by an appointed body of people or by a single dictator without the general populace having any say in their formation. In democratically elected governments, theoretically, we have an equal say in the formation of our laws. We all have a single vote in electing those persons we believe will support legislation that would be in our best interests at the time of each election."

Then after discussion I conclude five paragraphs later -- "According to this reasoning, the word ‘freedom’ seems to mean ‘having an equal say with everyone else about our rights’."

When you said "Getting me to read and re-read your book isn't a discussion." I'm sorry Charon, but the evidence here suggests that you have NOT read the OP in the first instance, let alone in this second referral back to the text.

I do apologise for not getting into a discussion on 'chains', but the only reference I can find to your use of 'chains' was when you quoted and made a comment. I was referring to Jean Jacques Rousseau when I said -- "We are 'in chains' as one thinker said, but maybe we become so accustomed to just following the rules or adhering to the limits of our 'rights' that we become habituated to them and don't think about them any more." and you simply commented "I'm not going to bow to the 'chains' idea. I've always seen it as my look-out if I suffer or not. I think - in fact I know - that it's how one responds to a situation that usually determines its outcome." You did not ask me for any response or comment. If you re-phrase a question of your statement, I'd be happy to reply.

You also said in one post "Well, this is essentially all about freedom, as you say. There's the freedom outwardly and the freedom inwardly. The inward freedom is more important because it may determine how one responds to difficult situations outwardly.

Life is certainly not just the outer, it's the whole movement. A free mind will not divide the outer from the inner. If life is approached from a fixed and rigid point of view then it will create problems, usually blamed on the outer rather than itself.

But if one understands the whole meaning of freedom then it can deal with life in a way that doesn't create any problem. I think that's the whole meaning of intelligence."


You did not ask for my opinion of this statement. But if I'd given one, I would have had to ask you to elaborate some examples of what you mean by 'freedom outwardly and the freedom internally'. If you do so, I'll be happy to indulge.

I feel ashamed at the thought that I could be frustrating anyone, or of not giving serious consideration to any questions they ask in this forum.
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Re: Freedom and Rights in Group Living

Postby charon on May 26th, 2019, 12:11 am 

...

I wasn't trying to insult you, it was an observation and a valid one.

As it happens I've read the whole of your original post more than once. That's why I don't know why you keep reposting great swathes of quotes from it. You don't need to. Let the book go, discuss afresh.

If you'd actually read further, you would have realised that you were saying almost exactly what I had said. You obviously did not read the following -- (huge re-post) -- This makes me think that you did not read, but only skimmed, what I said.


I read it. I said

I know you cover that in your next sections but you only describe it, you don't go any further on the subject of freedom. But there's a lot more, a great deal more.


I meant it, there's a lot more to freedom than all this. Freedom and intelligence are extremely related.

You did not ask me for any response or comment. If you re-phrase a question of your statement, I'd be happy to reply.


You did not ask for my opinion of this statement.


I shouldn't have to. This is a discussion! I made those points, they're for you to take up. Why should I rephrase them? What's unclear about it?

some examples of what you mean by 'freedom outwardly and the freedom internally'.


Certainly, that's very simple. An example of outward freedom is having the time, and probably the money, to travel freely (for a while anyway) and see and do what you like.

An example of inward freedom is, say, an absence of fear. Or confusion, problems, anything you like. That's why it's related to intelligence. A mind can't really be intelligent as long as it's clouded by fear, problems or confusion. Or stupid beliefs, come to that.

Which is also why the inward is far more important than the outward. There's not much point in being able to go where you like if you're stunted inwardly, you simply take your misery with you.
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