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June 17, 2010

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I'd also recommend this Acton Resource:
http://tinyurl.com/33qk5rx

It's a shame Jesus didn't spend more time preaching about the virtues of capitalism. St. Paul kinda dropped the ball too. And so did Moses, all the prophets, and the rest of the NT apostles.

Thank God for the Acton institute and STR blog!

Gerstin,

The Scriptures do not overlook the virtues of capitalism. Capitalism--the private ownership of capital--and by extension the private ownership of other factors of production, is defended. Property rights are established. Samuel warned the people about the king that they wanted. When Solomon amassed great numbers of horsemen to himself, it was not counted as a good thing. The five wise maidens who brought their oil were not chastised and made to share their oil with the foolish ones.
Annanias and Sapphira did not die because they held back part of the price of the land. Peter made clear the land was theirs to dispose of as they chose. They died because they lied. When Jesus told people to sell all and give to the poor, he did not say that those who sold did not have title to the things they sold, or that those who bought had less than full title.

To give to others, what you give has to be yours to give.

Definitely a hard balance to find. It is too easy to justify selfishness as self-interest.

>how could the United States, rooted in a free market economy, be the most charitable country on earth?

It's this simple. Giving away money for worthy causes lubricates the tax machine. It also generates business on the corporate level. It actually makes money when sending troops to foreign lands. $1,000,000 a year per soldier in Afghanistan. Who makes the profit? certainly not the soldier or the Afghans.

Always remember, there is none righteous, no not one. This means, nobody ever does a good thing for the right reason.

"It is not easy for a rich man to enter heaven."
Some part of the bible.

"The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.""

=====
"Put this money to work"
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2019:12-27;&version=NIV;

Gerstin,

>>”It's a shame Jesus didn't spend more time preaching about the virtues of capitalism. St. Paul kinda dropped the ball too. And so did Moses, all the prophets, and the rest of the NT apostles.”

As Johnnie pointed out, individual property rights were not condemned in the Scriptures but rather acknowledged as legitimate.

The real shame, from your seat, must be that Jesus didn’t spend more time preaching about the virtues of the state and the government annexation of individual property.

On Greed: Milton Friedman.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A

This is a must watch for anyone reading this thread.

Thanks for that reminder, KWM.
One of my favourite thoughts in there and which always comes to mind in online discussion:
"I think you are taking a lot of things for granted."

Capitalism is based on the seventh and ninth commandments:

VII Thou shalt not steal

IX Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.

For all those of you who think that communism/socialism/liberalism is somehow 'more Christian' or 'would work if people were just good' or that 'we'll all be communists in heaven', please explain how a state based on government-theft and institutionalized-envy squares with these two commandments.

What the Bible teaches is:

1. Personal property rights are to be respected and cherished.
2. Personal generosity is pleasing to God.

Both of these tenets are rejected to varying degrees by the Left. The first because of their penchant for nationalization of industry and confiscatory taxation and the second because they replace personal generosity with the dole (a term that comes to us from pre-Christian Rome...so not a Christian term, at least, and not a Christian idea either).

Unless we are defining "greed" to be necessarily wrong, as with "murder", then I don't see the problem. Do we mean greed to be something other than wanting more you absolutely need?

Capitalism does not depend on greed, and is not primarily characterized by it, but I am not aware of any other system that is so capable of channeling greed into productivity and wealth.

The core problem I see with Christian acceptance of capitalism is that Christianity appears to reject the core axiom of capitalism: self ownership. People do not own themselves, but all are owned by God. Without this fundamental principle of self ownership, capitalism becomes just one of the many equally valid systems which God may establish among humans (all of whom he owns, and may do with as he pleases). In this view, a centrally planned economy may be less efficient, but is no less fundamentally just than a free market economy.

Watch the entire interviewer. Nothing has changed in 30 years of T.V. except that Donahue at least didn't shout down his guest.

-----

Christianity does not reject self-ownership. With respect to other men, man is autonomous. This is not affected by his ultimate servanthood to God. Answering to a higher LORD does not necessitate giving up autonomy among other servants.

*interview*

Daron,

If you do something with yourself that God does not like, have you done something wrong?

As I understand it, in the Christian worldview, man may have conditional stewardship over himself, but not ownership of himself. He is the property of God. There is no requirement on God the he grant this stewardship, and there is nothing preventing him from granting one person conditional stewardship over another. This means it is possible for monarchy to exist without anyone's property rights being violated, as long as God approves of the monarch. This also means it is possible for slavery to exist without anyone's property rights being violated, as long as God approves of the slave owner.

"Answering to a higher LORD does not necessitate giving up autonomy among other servants."
You are right, it does not necessitate it. It does allow for it, though.

Eric:

How do you account for this, from Deut. 25:49?

"or his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any who is a close relative to him of his family may redeem him; or if he has grown rich, he may redeem himself."

Even slaves had property rights. Else how could a slave become rich? Property rights do not require "self-ownership".

We are slaves to sin, or slaves of the Kingdom. Our earthly condition of servitude doesn't seem to matter much to God.

Hi Eric,

If you do something with yourself that God does not like, have you done something wrong?
Absolutely.
You are right, it does not necessitate it. It does allow for it, though.
Interesting.
In a sense it does allow for it. But far less so than any other view does. And, in fact, it is only by answering to God that we recognize rights and that we have abolished slavery. So I don't really see much in your point.

p.s.
Thanks Johnnie.
I was working that one up myself. See the parable cited above - servants as capitalist lenders.

>>”Watch the entire interview. Nothing has changed in 30 years of T.V. except that Donahue at least didn't shout down his guest.”

I totally agree. I love the look on Donahue’s face during the entire exchange. No disrespect intended, but he looked like a child being taught by his grandfather -- about the ways in which the world works. You can almost see the “but why does it have to be that way?” look in Donahue's eyes. That aside, Donahue seemed gracious.

Johnnie,

First, and probably most important, I don't need to make everything in the bible cohere. I have no problem accepting that in one place it says "A", and in another place it says "B". I do not rule out the possibility that different authors, whose works were eventually compiled into a single volume, may have disagreed with one another.

"Even slaves had property rights. Else how could a slave become rich? Property rights do not require "self-ownership"."
I think we are working with different understandings of "property rights". You seem to be using it to include someone else allowing you to own things, rather than recognizing a right that you naturally have. To say that a person may own things but may not own himself is, to me, incoherent. What you are calling "property rights" may be better described as "property privileges".

When one thinks about it, any other institutionized system other than a free market is greedy.Communism doesn't check greed , it institutionalizes it. The governemnt rather than the individual is greedy. So instead of isolated greedy individuals you get a monolithic greedy government.
Socialism is parastic off of capitalism because it needs to fund itself somehow. And the only way to do it is take ( by corersive power) away from those who earn and spread it to those who do not. This is not generosity, it is theft. Just as compulsery volunteerism is called slavery. Those who receive without having earned are not receiving justice they are receiving stolen goods.

As a bumpersticker famously said. No free market, no free people.

Daron ,

"And, in fact, it is only by answering to God that we recognize rights and that we have abolished slavery. So I don't really see much in your point."

I recognize rights. I do not answer to God, and I do not see how God is a requirement for there to be rights. The principle of self ownership is axiomatic. It is not dependent upon any God existing. Other rights derive from self ownership. A free market economy is the only system we have so far encountered which is consistent with this.

Christianity attempts to deny self ownership by positing a being who owns everyone. This removes the foundation for claiming capitalism as a just system. It is only just if God has decided that his property should behave in this way. He could decide to have a communist system, and that would be equally just, if he is the owner of everyone.

Eric:

Christians cannot deny self-ownership by positing a being who owns everyone, because such a being would own himself.

If self-ownership is axiomatic, God, if he exists, has to acknowledge the self-ownedness of people and he could not decide what is just and unjust.

I don't see how "allowing you" and "recognize" are different. They both refer to relationships between pairs of people.

Johnnie,

"Christians cannot deny self-ownership by positing a being who owns everyone, because such a being would own himself."
Yes, you've got me there. They don't seek to deny self-ownership completely, only human self-ownership.
"If self-ownership is axiomatic, God, if he exists, has to acknowledge the self-ownedness of people and he could not decide what is just and unjust."
Yes, I agree, this is one of the areas where Christian theism runs into logical difficulties.
"I don't see how "allowing you" and "recognize" are different. They both refer to relationships between pairs of people."
It's the difference between a privilege and a right. In practice, they may appear very similar, but they are different. Someone with the authority to grant a privilege also has the authority to revoke that privilege without committing an injustice. This is not the case with rights. Rights may be infringed or violated, but not revoked.

Eric:

Christian theism does not run into logical difficulties if self-ownership is not axiomatic.

"Allowing you" and "recognize" are verbs. "Privilege" and "right" are nouns. Either verb can be applied to either noun.

A better word to describe "privilege" is "liberty". A privilege (according to Hohfeld) is the absence of a duty (of your own)to honor a right (of someone else). You are not "granted" a privilege, you create a privilege when you have discharged a duty to someone else. Rights can be "revoked" when the corresponding duty has been performed.

When I hear the left and some Christians tell me that the early church was socialist (ACTS) they miss the point. It was all voluntary! The last time I looked taxes were not voluntary.
All of the isms are very covetous because they want what is not theirs.

My son who just graduated from Point Loma Nazarene made a great point---that socialism, the voluntary kind, works great in the church---as in people tithing to help others.

Johnnie,

"Christian theism does not run into logical difficulties if self-ownership is not axiomatic."
Setting aside the other logical difficulties, it does run into difficulties here, because self-ownership is axiomatic. If you believe otherwise, then refute self-ownership in a way that does not assume it.

As for the rest of your comment, I am not sure if you are disagreeing with my intent or if you are just taking issue with my word choice.

(sorry about double post)

>Capitalism is based on the seventh and ninth commandments:

VII Thou shalt not steal

This would be true in a letter of the Law understanding.

However Jesus said loving our neighbor as our self fulfills the Law.

If we truly love our neighbor as our self, then we owe him half of all we have. Stealing therefore is withholding what is due to others.

No body comes away from the Law looking good, especially the Capitalists.

Eric:

If something is axiomatic, the way to refute it is to show a counterexample.

Counterexample: a slave.
Counterexample: professional baseball players.
Counterexample: an aborted fetus.
Counterexample: a kamikaze pilot.

Johnnie,

The fact that you make any attempt to convince me that it is not an axiom requires that you accept that I have a right to disagree with you. In order to have that right, I must be the one with the right to determine whether or not I agree with you. If you don't accept that I own myself, then your attempting to convince me that I do not makes no sense, because I wouldn't have the authority to either agree or disagree with you.

Unless you have been directly ordered to attempt to convince me that it is not an axiom, then you must invoke your own self-ownership in order to do it. You must the the one with the right to determine what you will do.

You can not attempt to refute it without accepting it in order to do so. Which means it is an axiom.

"If we truly love our neighbor as our self, then we owe him half of all we have."

Why? What if it would be really bad for him to have half of what I have, but it does no harm to me at all. Let's say that I'm a peanut farmer and my neighbor is allergic. Giving my neighbor half of what I have would probably kill him and implicate me in his murder.

Also there are some things I can give to my neighbor only if I withhold other things. For example, I can't give my neighbor any pride in achievement if I simply sign half my paycheck over to him.

And then there's this, what if I can give my neighbor half of all the pie I bake, but things will work out that I'll bake twice as much pie if I only give him one-third. Do I still owe him half of my pies. Speaking for myself, if the shoe were on the other foot, I'd rather shelve my envy and get one-third of a pie that's twice as big than one-half of a pie. Why? Because I end up with more pie!

What we owe to others, if we are going to love them as ourselves, is the Good. And that doesn't work out to some simple balancing of bank accounts or equal sharing of stuff. The Good is a highly complex subject and getting an optimal distribution of goods is not something that one can sit down and write an a priori formula for.

It can however be determined a posteriori. Over the years we have devised a fairly reliable, though not perfect, means of making the optimal allocation of resources to everyone involved. It is called the Free Market.

@Eric - that's ok, I took care of your double post. :)

Hi Eric,

recognizing a right that you naturally have.
...
I recognize rights. I do not answer to God, and I do not see how God is a requirement for there to be rights

I don't think what you recognize are rights. From whence do natural rights, if they exist, obtain?
A right requires an objective ought and objective oughts, I will submit, do not adhere if there is no God.

You say yourself what I think you are recognizing as distinct from rights:


What you are calling "property rights" may be better described as "property privileges".
...<.blockquote>
And better yet:

It's the difference between a privilege and a right. In practice, they may appear very similar, but they are different. Someone with the authority to grant a privilege also has the authority to revoke that privilege without committing an injustice. This is not the case with rights. Rights may be infringed or violated, but not revoked.

The framers of the Declaration knew you can't ground rights without a proper purpose, and you can't have that without a purposeful Creator. If nature is not a certain purposeful way then nature can't grant rights.

So how does an accidental arrangement of molecules on an accidental planet have rights to anything? Who stands as the authority to grant rights in a view without God and why is that authority the right authority? What happens when a different authority denies said rights? Without God human rights are mere political norms ... or privileges granted.

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a713660752

Eric,

If you have a right, it stands against all comers, regardless of their mental states. If you have the right to agree or disagree about self-ownership with someone who asserts that he is self-owned, you have the right to agree or disagree with someone who does not assert that he is self-owned. If you claim not to be able to exercise your right to agree or disagree with someone who disagrees with you, then you cannot exercise your right to agree or not to agree with someone who agrees with you, because in agreeing with someone who agrees with you, you disagree with anyone who disagrees with you, and you claim you don't have that authority. Your right is illusory.

dave,

Eric loves his neighbor as himself. One of his double posts has been given away.

Daron,

In my view, all natural rights logically follow from the principle of self-ownership. As I have tried to explain above, this principle is axiomatic. (In order to argue against it, you must implicitly accept it.) This provides the objective basis for all legitimate rights, and does so with no requirement for a God.

Some people call "privileges" "rights", and distinguish between "legal rights" and "natural rights", but I find that to get confusing and to result in misunderstandings due to equivocation on the term "rights". I prefer the term "privilege" instead of "legal right".

"Rights", in the way I am using it, does not imply a purposeful basis. Rights are simply logical consequences of the nature of reality.


"Who stands as the authority to grant rights in a view without God and why is that authority the right authority?"

No one does. If someone had the authority to grant them, then they would be privileges, and not rights. If someone can grant them, then that same someone can refuse to grant them, which means they are not truly rights, because a right cannot be withheld. A right may be violated, but that doe not make the right cease to be.

" Without God human rights are mere political norms ... or privileges granted."
In the view you are presenting, no one has rights but God. All human "rights" are, in reality, temporary privileges granted by God, who may revoke them at any time, for any reason, without committing an injustice. This is the position of Christian theism, isn't it?

Eric,

What are you trying to say?

1. We have rights
2. Rights arise out of self-ownership
3. Christian theism asserts God owns the individual
4. Therefore, God doesn’t exist

Well, I’d say the problem is with #3 and the definition of “own”. And a possible problem with #2 and the definition of "self-ownership" (which basically means nothing).

Clarification:

When I say “self-ownership” means nothing, I mean that the understanding that each human being has property rights to his own person here on earth has no consequence to the “ownership” question with regards to God.

KWM,

I am not trying to say that. I am not trying here to construct an argument against the existence of God. I am arguing for the existence of rights, and for a logical basis for capitalism, without an appeal to God. I agree that the syllogism you presented is flawed.

Hi KWM,
Yo are correct in my opinion. God's relationship to us does not affect out rights in relation to others. Just as the servant had servants, lent money and became wealthy.

But self-ownership also means nothing in the sense that Eric is presenting it as meaning nothing.

====
Hi Eric,
How can rights come out of your so-called self ownership?
So what if one "owns" ownself? To what does that entitle him? Or rather, what moral ought follows from that? Should we respect ownership? Says who? Is not respecting ownership wrong? If not, selfownership is not a right and does not confer other rights.

But what is this "self-ownership" of which you speak. You said (in making this supposed ontological reality into a moral axiom) to deny it is to affirm it. Can you explain that please?

I misspoke, KWM.
Of course, God's relationship to us actually gives us the status of right-bearing creatures. But his sovereignty does not impinge upon our autonomy in relation to others.

Another quick example:
My boss has a certain position in relation to me that impinges upon my autonomy in many senses (although he can't stop me from thinking my own thoughts). But though I have a lessened exercise of ownership before him does not mean I have any less among my equals (the other employees).
It occurs to me as well that it is only in relation to him that I and the other employees (qua employees) have any equality claims in the first place.

Daron,

An axiom is either something that is self-evidently true or something that cannot be argued against without being accepted. Take for example, the Law of Non-contradiction. Some people assert that the Law of Non-contradiction is not true. However, to do this, they must agree that there is a difference between it being true and it being not true. They must accept that it cannot be both true and not true simultaneously. So, unless they accept the Law of Non-contradiction as true, they would have no cause to argue against it.

On to self-ownership...
To have ownership of something means to have the right to determine the use and disposition of that thing. In arguing against self-ownership, one must accept that the person to whom one is arguing has the right to determine the disposition of his own mind. The attempt to persuade someone is only sensible if that person is in a position to be persuaded. That is, he must have the necessary control over the disposition of the mind to alter it from believing A to believing B. Only if I own myself can I be in such a position. If I did not own myself, then there would be some other person (or no one at all, if no one has ownership) to whom you would appeal in an effort to change what I believe. You recognize, however, that only I am in a position to change what I believe. By engaging with me at all, you are implicitly accepting that I have self-ownership.

Does that make more sense?

(I noticed that some of my phrasing above makes it sound as though you are arguing against self-ownership, although you have only asked for clarification. I don't mean to imply that you have argued against it, but only to show that someone who does argue against it must be accepting it as true in order to do so.)

Hi Eric,
Thanks for your take on axioms.

To have ownership of something means to have the right to determine the use and disposition of that thing.
So you are presuming rights in your axiom. To declare "ownership" you have begged the question of whether or not this confers rights
In arguing against self-ownership, one must accept that the person to whom one is arguing has the right to determine the disposition of his own mind.
The right to the disposition of his mind? This is where I see this idea getting off track. I certainly see that a person is in a position to change his own mind, but that doesn't mean I agree that he and only he ought to be. Seeing the is does not bind me morally in any respect to that person and his mind.

I see that evil exists. I don't (necessarily, for the sake of argument) agree it ought to.
I see that humans are conceived and then are born. This doesn't imply they have a right to be born once conceived.
As we have so often heard, there is a fallacy of attempting to derive a moral ought from a natural is.

You might have the ability to set your own mind but I, too might have the ability to set your mind. And I might think I ought to change that with a drug, through conditioning and reinforcement, via fallacious arguments, through hypnosis, with a medical procedure , etc.
Knowing that you have the ability, again, does not result in acknowledging your right to that ability.

I could also pile on here a similar axiom.
Human beings have a right to exist.
In order to argue against this you have to be a human being who exists.
Therefore, the right is established.
As you can see, this doesn't work because we are mixing categories. The rule of the axiom that works in the realm of reasoning does not work when you are moving from ontological facts to moral obligations.

We can only have rights in relation to other moral beings (it makes no sense to say that because I have personal ownership I have a right to suspend gravity and fly about like Superman, or that I have the right to lift a mountain, or not be scratched by a twig...). And if the right is to imply obligation then it has to transcend those moral agents. If it merely derives from their interactions then it is subject to change and is no longer a right.
If it merely derives from an observation of what is then its existence is further denied because in the world of is we can't actually apprehend a right.

Daron,

"To declare "ownership" you have begged the question of whether or not this confers rights"
I think if you will read my comments with some charity and an appreciation for the vagaries of language and the fundamental nature of what I am discussing, you will see that I have not been circular. I am trying to use words to explain things at the foundation of the concept of "rights". I considered leaving out an explanation of ownership, and relying on you to already understand what I mean, but I decided to include the description, even though I could tell that I hadn't come up with the best way of describing it. With further reflection, I think you will see that "right" as used in my explanation of ownership, when applied to self-ownership, is different from the "rights" that I am deriving from the principle of self-ownership. I acknowledge that there is at least an appearance of circularity. I can expand on this further if you wish, but I'll leave it here in hopes that you will grant me some common use of language.

Please keep in mind that an axiom is not something that is demonstrated to be true. It is something that must be taken as true, even in the attempt to refute it. I am not trying to prove self-ownership. I am showing that it is something which cannot be coherently denied. As far as I can tell, you have not tried to deny it. Rather, you seem to be focused on the implications.

"I certainly see that a person is in a position to change his own mind, but that doesn't mean I agree that he and only he ought to be."
That may be right, but that's not what we are discussing. We are discussing whether the rights exist, what is reason for believing that they exist, and what are the logical consequences of the fact that they exist. The fact that you don't know what you ought to do as a result of something does not mean the thing is not real. At this point, you seem to have recognized the principle of self-ownership as true, but you are not sure what to do about it.
"I could also pile on here a similar axiom. Human beings have a right to exist. In order to argue against this you have to be a human being who exists. Therefore, the right is established"

That's not similar. Maybe you are just being tongue-in-cheek, but what you have presented is not at all like what I have said. Some being who is not a human could conceivably argue against your assertion that humans have a right to exist, without implicitly accepting it. Also, a human who exists can deny that humans have a right to exist. That they do exist doesn't necessarily imply a right to exist. This is not an axiom.

"The rule of the axiom that works in the realm of reasoning does not work when you are moving from ontological facts to moral obligations."
I'm not talking about moral obligations. I am talking about rights of the individual, and how they are based in logic and the nature of reality.
"We can only have rights in relation to other moral beings"
I would agree that rights are only meaningful in a context of other beings. (That doesn't mean that the rights are in any way derived from other beings or contingent upon other beings.) I am not sure that those beings need to be "moral" beings. Perhaps you can explain what you mean by moral beings, in why that requirement is necessary?
"And if the right is to imply obligation… "
Can you explain what you mean by this? Do you mean that your right implies some obligation on you, or that it implies some obligation on me, or something else? What kind of obligations are we talking about?
"… in the world of is we can't actually apprehend a right."
Maybe this would be a good time for you to explain what you mean by a right. I don't agree with this statement, and I suspect it is because we are operating under different understandings of "right". (Surely, we are not the first to have difficulty understanding or articulating these ideas.)

Hi Eric,

"To declare "ownership" you have begged the question of whether or not this confers rights"

I think if you will read my comments with some charity and an appreciation for the vagaries of language and the fundamental nature of what I am discussing, you will see that I have not been circular. I am trying to use words to explain things at the foundation of the concept of "rights". I considered leaving out an explanation of ownership, and relying on you to already understand what I mean, but I decided to include the description, even though I could tell that I hadn't come up with the best way of describing it. With further reflection, I think you will see that "right" as used in my explanation of ownership, when applied to self-ownership, is different from the "rights" that I am deriving from the principle of self-ownership. I acknowledge that there is at least an appearance of circularity. I can expand on this further if you wish, but I'll leave it here in hopes that you will grant me some common use of language.

I charitably grant you all access to language. The very reason I asked this is because I see no way to define "ownership" without presupposing "rights".
Ownership is the state of having exclusive rights over a property of some kind. Saying you own something is to say that you have the exclusive rights of its disposition. But your argument does not demonstrate this. You will give this away later in your defence...

Please keep in mind that an axiom is not something that is demonstrated to be true. It is something that must be taken as true, even in the attempt to refute it.
Your axiom regards the knowledge that you are a self and a thinking agent, it does not entail that you have ownership rights. That you control the disposition of your mind does not mean that you own it, let alone that you have the right of ownership. I gave examples where I could control your mind. That doesn't mean I have the right to do so.


"I certainly see that a person is in a position to change his own mind, but that doesn't mean I agree that he and only he ought to be."

That may be right, but that's not what we are discussing. We are discussing whether the rights exist,
Not quite. We are discussing whether or not you can account for and recognize them without God. We both know they exist.
what is reason for believing that they exist, and what are the logical consequences of the fact that they exist. The fact that you don't know what you ought to do as a result of something does not mean the thing is not real.
You missed the point. I said that recognizing your ability to decide your mind does not mean that you ought to be able to, or that you have established the right to do so.

At this point, you seem to have recognized the principle of self-ownership as true, but you are not sure what to do about it.
I don't think it seems like that at all. I completely recognize the principle of self-ownership and I know (at least I think I know) exactly what I am doing - I am arguing that you are presuming too much to assume it can exist without God.
"I could also pile on here a similar axiom. Human beings have a right to exist. In order to argue against this you have to be a human being who exists. Therefore, the right is established"
That's not similar.
Yes it is.
Maybe you are just being tongue-in-cheek, but what you have presented is not at all like what I have said. Some being who is not a human could conceivably argue against your assertion that humans have a right to exist, without implicitly accepting it.
Which being is that? You will grant me, of course, the charitable reading and know this statement can be tightened to eliminate any hypothetical being or being you don't believe in to make the same exact point, right?
Also, a human who exists can deny that humans have a right to exist. That they do exist doesn't necessarily imply a right to exist. This is not an axiom.
Thank you. That you do control the disposition of your mind doesn't necessarily imply the right to do so. This is not an axiom.
"The rule of the axiom that works in the realm of reasoning does not work when you are moving from ontological facts to moral obligations."
I'm not talking about moral obligations. I am talking about rights of the individual, and how they are based in logic and the nature of reality.
When you talk about rights you talk about moral obligations.
"We can only have rights in relation to other moral beings"
I would agree that rights are only meaningful in a context of other beings. (That doesn't mean that the rights are in any way derived from other beings or contingent upon other beings.)
No, the rights (as opposed to privileges) are not derived from other moral beings, but they only exist in relation to those beings.
I am not sure that those beings need to be "moral" beings. Perhaps you can explain what you mean by moral beings, in why that requirement is necessary?
Moral beings are beings who are capable of making moral decisions, who can acts with reference to right and wrong, upon whom statements of ought are normative, etc. A non-moral being cannot violate your rights. You have no rights in relationship to their actions against which their behaviour can be judged.
"And if the right is to imply obligation… "
Can you explain what you mean by this? Do you mean that your right implies some obligation on you, or that it implies some obligation on me, or something else?
Yes, it implies an obligation on you, another moral being, in your dealings with me regarding that right.
What kind of obligations are we talking about?
You are morally obligated not to violate my rights.
"… in the world of is we can't actually apprehend a right."
Maybe this would be a good time for you to explain what you mean by a right. I don't agree with this statement, and I suspect it is because we are operating under different understandings of "right". (Surely, we are not the first to have difficulty understanding or articulating these ideas.)
First, I think we actually do understand each other. It just becomes difficult to know that when our presumptions are tested too far. You already stated above that the existence of humans does not imply that they have a right to exist. This puts us in agreement on the nature of rights. Can you see, measure or otherwise apprehend this right in the world of empirics and science? In the world of the is? Or do you have to enter the world of oughts to do so? And when you enter the world of ought you encounter morals and the grounding problem.

As we are talking about natural rights and not legal rights I think we are discussing the same thing: those entitlements of a being to be in a certain state or perform certain actions and determine which actions regarding those entitlements are proper.

It ought to follow obviously that the fact that one can perform an action (self-determine thoughts, for instance) does not mean they, or they alone, are entitled to. For example, I can enter and remove items from my neighbor's house. But that doesn't mean that I am entitled to.

Eric:

You used the same argument about self-ownership with Daron, whom you think likely believes in self-ownership, that you did with me, who doesn't, and you haven't answered my point that by your own argument your right is illusory. Either you believe in self-ownership, or have your right, or you don't. Your belief in self-ownership or your right stands or falls on the evidence, not on what Daron or I believe.

Also, when you consider the evidence, the provenance of the evidence has no bearing on whether you accept it or not. It doesn't matter if someone else has directed you to it, or you look for it yourself, or you stumble upon it while you are looking for something else. In face of the evidence, you cannot appeal to whether someone else accepts your right or not.

Furthermore, if you want to make rights the central part of your philosophy, you should know what a right is. A right is a claim by one person on another. The person upon whom the claim rests has a corresponding duty. Right/duty are one of four associated pairs of relationships identified by Hohfeld that are collectively and loosely called "rights". The other three pairs are privilege/no-right, power/liability, and immunity/disability.

Hope this helps.

The American Christian fixation on capitalism and free markets (whether that to be critique them as systemic injustice, legalized greed, etc., or the compulsion to defend capitalism as Christian) is perplexing to me.

It would seem prudent to simply acknowledge that any form of human economy, government, etc., exists within the constraints of human fallenness and is therefore imperfect. It seems to me that the call of God to the Christian is to participate in God's redemption of the structure in which s/he finds him or herself.

Capitalism is flawed. Socialism is flawed. And into infinity. Choosing one over the other is at best choosing the lesser of two evils. Why not opt to critique any and all imperfect forms of government and economy instead of putting roots down firmly wihtin on imperfect system among many?

I don't get it.

Hi bglurker.
I appreciate your sentiments and can agree with you to a great extent, but not completely.
As an example, free enterprise and free markets are flawed, sure, but not as flawed, for instance, as chattel slavery. Would you similarly comment that one was merely choosing one imperfect economic arrangement over another?

Capitalism does not run on greed (?) and yet the large majority of business done, goods sold, is based on wants not needs. If capitalism was so dedicated to "food and shelter" and "tak[ing] care of your loved ones", and not preying on people's desires for the latest gadgets or their fears of accidental death, sickness, or home invasion, then I could certainly agree with your somewhat rose colored glasses approach. However, it is a truism that more money is spent every year on non-necessities--luxuries, wants, desires, etc.--than on necessities. This is indicative of something, yes?

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