March 2nd, 2006


Sitting Shiva for Rights

I think, after using them as an organising mechanism for my philosophy to a certain degree, for as long as I've been thinking philosophically, I've been examining them and have decided to excise them from my worldview. Rights have been a way to simplify philosophical systems as they apply to reality by cleaving the sky and the waters (or in this case, the public and private realms), relegating certain kinds of behaviour as usually kosher (or, for rights-absolutists, sacrosanct) and exempt from interference (and sometimes even criticism). As any structural element in philosophy, this is not innocent of impact -- this separation eventually leads to a neglect of society or a neglect in government as the two grow too difficult. It's time to end that distinction, carefully. We can still respect autonomy, but we will respect it under its own name. We can still weigh that respect against societal good, but we must do so honestly. Just as the libertarian notion of liberty is a blinding path to selfishness, rights themselves are things we must excise from our vocabulary, because we don't need them and they blind us too. To restate:

I am uninterested in distinctions, between law and culture

I am uninterested in distinctions, between private and public sector

I am interested in the good of society, not in lines in the sand.

My questions to you all:

Do you think in terms of rights?

Can you imagine any other ways to think about the kinds of issues that rights provided structure for?

What concerns, if any, do you see in my treading this path?

As always, comments welcome from anyone.
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