The Structure and Content of Rights

Christopher Hurtado —  March 2, 2010 — Leave a comment
The Structure and Content of Rights | Christopher Hurtado
(1) What justification could be given for enacting (a) laws governing moral behavior and (b) laws which are for a person’s own good?

Justification could be given for enacting moral laws on two grounds: (1) on the grounds that they protect the rights of others which would otherwise be infringed upon, and (2) on the grounds that they protect the society which is based upon agreement on the the principles underlying such moral behavior. Justification could be given for enacting laws which are for a person’s own good on the two grounds also: (1) on the grounds that the person is unable to act rationally based on his or her level of maturity (as in the case of minors) or mental health (as in the case of senility or mental illness) and (2) on the grounds that the person would want to be proscribed in his or her actions because either (a) he or she lacks the willpower to carry out his or her own will or (b) her or is is not fully cognizant of the consequences of the conduct proscribed by law, and would otherwise agree with being coerced. In the former case, the person agrees to being coerced in advance. In the second, the person would presumably agree if her or she were reasonable.

(2) Do you agree? Why or why not?

I agree with enacting laws that proscribe immoral behavior that directly harms others. Otherwise, I disagree on the grounds that the individual is sovereign and his rights are inviolable inasmuch as they do not violate the rights of others. I base my argument on the precarious nature of life and man’s need to act rationally, according to his own conscience, in order to survive and thrive. He has a right to life, and by extension a right to property to secure the fruits of his labor for the sake of his own survival.

Christopher Hurtado

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Christopher Hurtado is President and CEO of Linguistic Solutions and Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy and Political Science at Utah Valley University. He holds a BA in Middle East Studies/Arabic and Philosophy and an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies. He coauthored Vacation Spanish: A Survival Guide for Mexico, the Caribbean, Central & South America. He is married to children's book author and homeschool mom, Alysia Gonzalez. Together they have nine children. They are active in their church and in their community.

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