Many popular assumptions about “rights” are fully exposed in this talk. What is a “right”? The definition defended is that a right is not some mystical property of a human being, as many imagine. It is simply “a defensible claim”, either positive or negative. A negative claim is expressed when you want NOT to be prevented from doing what you want to do (such as speak freely, travel freely, associate with whom you wish, and so on); and a positive claim is expressed when you demand the delivery of some good or service (such as “free” medical care, welfare, a pension, police security, and the like), supplied by the state, a corporation, or another agent. There are some three or four hundred so-called “universal human rights” floating around today, with nary a mention of the obligations any of those “rights” necessarily impose on someone else, or on a government, to satisfy. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, for example, does not once mention the words “obligation” or “responsibility”. A special focus is the powerful demolition of the concept of rights by the English critic Jeremy Bentham in 1815 in his brief essay Anarchical Fallacies – a critique that has never been answered because it is bulletproof.
- Post author:William Gairdner
- Post published:December 5, 2022
- Post category:Blog
- Post comments:4 Comments