What does it mean to have a right to life?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by fess, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. fess Registered Senior Member

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    Try telling a hungry grizzly that you have a right to life. Explain your right to life to the guard taking you to the gas chamber. It's a meaningless concept.
     
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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 69 years old Valued Senior Member

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    Correct, it's a meaningless concept but dressed up as "god given" to allow believers to appear virtuous when they "stand up for your right to life"

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  5. river

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    What does it mean to have a right to life ?

    It means that life should not be taken needlessly ( death ) .
     
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  7. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think there is an inherent right to life either. Socially, it would be OK to acknowledge one, as long as that life doesn't interfere with other human life.
     
  8. river

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    Naturally you are right . Instinct

    But Humans think . Inherent right to life is an attitude towards our Human selves , existence
     
  9. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    It's usually cited by death penalty supporters in defense of allowing a baby human to use another person's body to live.
     
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  10. river

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    What do you mean ?
     
  11. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    The right to life usually refers to abortion.
     
  12. river

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    Ahh.

    Which I'm sure every female would rather avoid
     
  13. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

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    Why? It's not a big deal.
     
  14. river

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    But it is a big deal .
     
  15. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Please do not speak for others.
     
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    The grizzly example is virtually irrelevant. The prison guard is symptomatic of a social structure whereby one can assert rights at all.

    The only thing that makes the basic concept of a right to life confusing is actual distortion of its meaning; for instance, the right to life expressed in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, that people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". Compared to the history it responds to, its particular meaning is clear, that a government should not arbitrarily cause or allow death. What we in the States have been fighting over ever since is a question of who is so endowed.

    And while our neighbor River expresses confusion about a banner political issue invoking a weird distortion of a right to life, such distortions as Spidergoat refers to provide examples. In the U.S., some would go so far as to legislate ontology in order to justify the distortion. The example I refer to, as such, is of modern vintage; before that, our tendency, societally, was just to not be so clumsy about blatant exclusion and oppression. The American discourse has long presupposed that one's skin color or sex could alter the meaning of their right to life, and in that context bears strong statistical overlap with sympathy or affection toward ritualized homicide. If we consider River's previous point, that a right to life "means that life should not be taken needlessly", all one need do is recall American warring endeavors to see how such historical distortions as we have applied to our declared right to life describe an easy exclusion from that inherent right to life, or bear witness to our society scrambling to justify police violence and jury bias. The question of what counts as necessary or needless is easily sleighted.

    There was, in my youth, a terrible industrial disaster overseas; to this day, the Union Carbide disaster at Bhopal remains the world's worst industrial disaster, and continues to inflict effects against human beings in India. Seven Indian nationals were convicted, sentenced to two years in prison, and fined two thousand dollars apiece. The Union Carbide boss fled India, and the United States government protected him from prosecution until his death in 2014. Thus, seven locals serving two years apiece, and fourteen thousand dollars in fines, are the sum of criminal justice achieved on behalf of 3,787 dead and over 558,000 injured. Furthermore, much as people tend to doubt wartime casualty reports, so also do some dispute the official numbers; fifteen years out there arose the suggestion of eight thousand dead in the initial disaster, and the same again since.°

    It is at least arguable that, compared to the Declaration of Independence, Americans have spent a tremendous amount of their endeavor seeking exceptions and exclusions to the proclaimed right to life. And here we come back to the proposition.

    The grizzly, for instance, is not part of human convention in general or particular social contract; the question of a right to life is largely a human rights discussion°°. In the context of human rights and social contract, it starts with self-interest, extends almost inherently to the nearest valences of association, i.e., kin selection, and over generations has come to mean more and more to people in that way, through the accretion of psychologically conditioned interpersonal bonds.

    The question of the condemned occurs within these human conventions. There are, in the American discourse, particularly defining aspects that really do challenge the declared right to life. As our neighbor put it, life should not be taken needlessly. While much of the world has already forsaken capital punishment, Americans have finally reached a threshold of making this decision because our justification for state-sanctioned homicide is so fundamentally flawed as to despise the right to life, or liberty, and, if we turn to our Constitution, establishes an assertion of justice that has not served us properly, and will not, indeed cannot, appropriately attend our posterity.

    The guard's answer, then, is that society has, according to its social contract, found appropriate cause to terminate one's life in order to best preserve itself. While such a proposition is not beyond scrutiny, reproach, or even deposal, the counterproposal that the right to life is a "meaningless concept" would stand out as a surrender to the historically observable corruption and denigration of a declared inherent right and its justifying principle. Rather than accept it is a meaningless concept, we might understand what it means to ourselves. Indeed, it is from such exploration and consideration that people devise the human conventions upon which they assert social contracts.

    The abolition of capital punishment according to a right to life does not address police brutality or homicide under color of law; the latter is permissible according to a social contract empowering a monopoly on coercive force. Much like capital punishment, though, fundamental flaws, both human (indivdual) and systemic (collective), denigrate and corrupt the assertion of a right to life.

    Nor does the abolition of capital punishment preclude homicide according to warfare°°°.

    The difference between asserting for self and others seems to either loom or skulk, according to the beholder. It is easy enough to comprehend the basic need for self-preservation. Kin selection provides an obvious framework for extending the assertion of a right to life unto a first valence of association, such as offspring, or, later and more generally, family. What, though, of that next valence, which would be allies or, later and more generally, friends? The very words ally and alliance suggest some manner of competition or struggle requiring such cooperation. Consider the underlying judgment of the terms, inclusive fitness and eusociality, and to what degree they describe objective or subjective fitness or goodness?

    Again, it is at least arguable that Americans have spent a tremendous amount of their endeavor seeking exceptions and exclusions, and there is also a question of just how different that is from the rest of the human experience.

    A right to life despite the fact of death is a matter of religious belief, but even still only occurs within a context of society and judgment.

    What the right to life actually means to any one person is their own.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    ° Additionally, the damage continues to play out; in addition to the basic question of a right to life, and the political distortion River and Spidergoat discuss, we come across other considerations at the intersection of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. A superficial saying from once upon a wartime went, "America, love it or leave it!" This was always a cheap betrayal of our society, but it was really trendy among the majority, so here we are. In our economic policy arguments we sometimes hear a cynical point about how if people don't like what's happening, they should simply move; it is not mere irony that we often apply the argument to people not empowered to actually do so. In this context, we come back to the complexities of Indian society and the aftermath of Union Carbide at Bhopal. Because once upon a time, it just so happens that I encountered, in a discussion of American health policy and human rights, a weird, crosscutting counterargument by which life itself becomes a tort. But this point arises in the question of congenital disorders and an unknown number of people, ranging in the hundreds of thousands to maybe a couple million who, by the life-as-tort argument, should never have reproduced. In Madhya Pradesh. Which ought to make some sort of point. The US$470m settlement offered some survivors a pittance, and is said to have ultimately left out over ninety percent of the victims. Even drawing some line to parse out survivors and downstream effect, continued pollution, and unknown mortality, the point of fighting over the dead as Union Carbide, its executives, and the U.S. government did by protecting the CEO from prosecution in India, reminds that the right to life is really expensive, and therefore more of a political or actuarial consideration, depending on the circumstance. In the U.S., the most prominent demand for the right to life, as such, includes an actual terrorist organization that has claimed responsibility for terroristic threats because they wanted to boast publicly of their victory.

    °° There are, of course, affectations to the other, but principles of equality or equivalence get really, really complicated, and it usually turns out, as such, these affectations are often more accusatory than resolving.

    °°° Strangely, we come back to that discussion between River and Spidergoat in re abortion, because recent American warring adventures remind that many who lament and would prohibit abortion as a medical practice seem just fine with the prospect of fetuses destroyed by acts of war. Which really ought to be the sick joke it sounds like, but also, at some point, would seem to call into question that particular assertion of a right to life. Which also reminds that simply because someone's assertion is so fallaciously constructed as to be meaningless does not mean anyone else must accept it for their own.


    (Edit note: 31 January 2017, 7:03 PST, "While such a proposition is [not] beyond scrutiny".)
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
  17. river

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    Tiassa

    Your post grasped my attention from beginning to end
     
  18. river

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    America , US of A , has gone off the rails .
     
  19. Thus Spoke Registered Member

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    Perfect—hard to vary!

    Thank you!
     
  20. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    So the Declaration of Independence is just bs? lol
     
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    To a grizzly bear? Yes.

    Actually, it's probably more like "Blah blah blahblah blah blahblahblah blah ahh! AAAAHHHHH!!!!"
     
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  22. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    why do I bother with you people??

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  23. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    It's a legal concept. Part of a social contract.
    It simply means that neither the state nor any citizen is entitled to deprive a citizen of his life, freedom or lawful pursuits.
    In context, it's perfectly sensible. It's rendered meaningless by careless and inappropriate citation.
     
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