What are Rights and Who Gets Them?

This question provides the foundation for every single discussion about the concept of rights and yet it is almost never included, discussed, or even understood. There are more bad conceptions of what rights are out there than there are rights themselves!


Note, first, that the question is not “What are the rights?” as in “Give me a list of the rights”, but “What are Rights?“. What are rights qua rights? What is a right?


This article intends to both answer these questions with the best answers I have yet found, as well as provide an explanation for why it is better than many of the other popular conceptions, whilst refraining from using too much esoteric philosophic terminology.

Rights Well Defined, Finally

Rights are mutual reciprocal understandings between, and that should be afforded to, all beings who are or will become apperceptive to both a. advanced conceptualization, and to b. gratification deferral and long term future planning, and should exclude those who do not continue to reciprocate them.

Objective, obJective, or objecTive?

To begin at the beginning with “mutual reciprocal understandings”, three words that trigger people used to thinking about rights as if they are objective, I think it will do us good to confront that word “objective” head on. In my many debates on this topic with people from all over the spectrum on thinking I have observed that people use the word “objective” morality three different ways. Nothing provides a stronger jamming signal to communication in a discussion than accidental equivocation… And it happens to this word all the time!

1. Objective as in existing as part of reality and of the physical word. Lets call this one “Realism Objective” for the purposes of this article.
IE: As real and constant as gravity.


2. Objective as in applies to all humans whether or not those humans want it to be applied to them or even whether or not those humans even know about them; and if it isnt automatically applied to and functions on all humans then it is not objective. Lets call this one “moral presuppositionalism”. Oh wait, I said I’d try to limit esoteric words. Sorry. 😀 Lets call this one “Universal Objective“.
IE: The 10 commandments.


3. Objective as in anti-subjective. If something is objective then it isnt affected by anything subjective such as feelings, wants, thoughts, personal interpretations, and is mostly if not wholly independent of the mind considering it. It functions deterministically like a math equation according to the rules of logic, that when given the same inputs twice in a row the same outputs will always be returned. Lets call this one “Rational Objective“.
IE: Math and Logic

Now lets explore each of those as they relate to their fitness for usage in ethics and morality, and for clarity’s sake, let me define those two words as I will be using them for the purposes and intended audience of this article.


The study of the "equations" that may be used to form moral judgements.


The resulting rubric of behavioral restrictions that result from ones ethics.
1. Realism Objective

This “objective” doesnt really call for or deserve much discussion. It is easy to ask such a person what nature or reality does to a person when they murder and then observe the types of vague-non-answers you get in return. It is clear that there is no morality woven into the fabric of space time. Anvils do not drop on peoples heads when they do evil nor materialize reward-cookies for them when they do good.

2. Universal Objective

My above explanation of this usage of objective is far more explicit than what you’d actually get from someone using it in this way. This, in my experience, is the most common layman conception of rights. That is to say that people are pretty sure that they possess a thing called rights, and that they sort of exist, and that everyone has them automatically whether or not they know that they have them. When pressed they’ll reference the founding fathers and words like Natural Rights and Natural Law as proper nouns.


Natural law, a term used to summon the “real” nature of “Realism Objective” rights, but instead of just being asserted as a real thing that exists, it is asserted as a series of responsibilities or “negative obligations” (things you are obligated to never do) dictated to you by some form of an authority that is real and that exists. You’ve probably heard the ole’ “rights come from god, nature (your humanity), or reason” adage.


The existence of an omnipotent omniscient omnibenevolent entity that demands involuntary submission to his authority to dictate not only the laws of physics but also what constitutes good, evil, what you must do, and what you must never do is beyond the scope of this article.



3. Rational Objective


Did You Forget Subjective?


Pragmatism? From Patrick?


Rights in Language


What Are THE Rights?


Definitions for reference:

Apperceptive / Apperception:
1. Conscious perception with full awareness.

2. The process of understanding by which newly observed qualities of an object are related to past experience.


1: introspective self-consciousness
2: mental perception


1. conscious perception

First recorded in 1745–55; from French or directly from New Latin (Leibnitz) apperceptiōn-, stem of apperceptiō.

Old phraseology for reference:
Rights are mutual reciprocal understandings between sentient beings that should be afforded to all those who are or will become sentient and who continue to reciprocate them. with sentience defined specifically as possessing two capacities. 1. The capacity for advanced conceptualization. 2. The capacity for gratification deferral and long term future planning.

Bringing sight to the blind, clarity to the mud, and shining the light of day on the invisible violence of government. Creating Rebellious Philosophy, Risky Freedom, and Dangerous Thinking.

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