Wednesday, September 5, 2007

What Are Inalienable Rights???

In my vanity, I occasionally go through my site meter and see where people who come to this page live. When I do this, I can also see where they are coming from to get here. Lately, I have noticed a number of hit coming from the google search string "what are inelienable rights."
On the one hand, I feel bad that I haven't had a good philosophical post on human rights in a while, on the other, that's because I am working on a really big job at the moment and have little time.

So I'd like to kick that question back at you. What are inalienable rights? What does that phrase mean to you? Extra points (not that the points actually mean anything) if you can tell me, what is the most important inalienable right to you? Tough question, as inalienable implies that any right under that heading is of critical importance. Harder still, because so many of them are interconnected.

Here is my first post, that discusses what I think is possibly the most essential of human rights, the rights to make decisions about one's own body. . .

Please, don't embarrass me by leaving this thread empty. Click on the comments and leave one, anon if you feel the need. Uber-bonus points if you want to email me with an idea for a post on this topic - again, the points are, well, pointless, but I'll really appreciate it. . .

6 comments:

Beth said...

I think inalienable rights are inherent desires that all humans have. When our lives are in danger, we have a survival instinct that kicks in, because to live is inherent to our being. No one can take away these rights because they are a part of who we are as humans. Some countries supress these rights, others think they "give" them to us, but that just isn't possible since they are just always there.

DuWayne Brayton said...

I don't think that rights and desires equate, even inherent desires. First, there are pretty inherent desires, that simply are not rights. Second, there are rights, that may not be inherently desired by everybody.

No one can take away these rights because they are a part of who we are as humans.

But they can and do in many places, even today. Anywhere there is dictatorship they are often violently repressed. Even here in the U.S., there are restrictions on our inalienable rights.

Some countries supress these rights, others think they "give" them to us, but that just isn't possible since they are just always there.

No country can "give" them to us, they are either not repressed or they are. Some are more repressive than others, but it is simply not a matter of give and take.

Beth said...

Maybe "desires" wasn't the right terminology, I meant moreso our basic instincts. And that is why they can't be taken from us, but as I said they can be repressed.

Erik said...

Until I just looked it up, I was guessing "inalienable" was one of those words that are meaningless without the prefix, but "alienable" is indeed a word: transferable to another.

Governments can referee alienable rights: through marriage to guarantee co-ownership of assets of those entering into the contract; governments can divvy up water rights along a river; force employers to take measures to minimize work hazards; deny an individual the ability to legally give a haircut. Or governments can choose not to do these things.

I can't think of any action or ownership a government couldn't transfer another than purely mental processes.

So, I would say the ability to direct my thoughts is not only the most important inalienable right but the sole inalienable right.

This would seem to be a different meaning than what was meant in the Declaration of Independence as it asserts "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men ...".That a right can be "secured" implies the possibility of it being taken away.

Perhaps they were drunk when they wrote it and qualified "rights" with "inalienable" cause it sounds bad-ass.

The gist doesn't change if you remove "inalienable":

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Charlie said...

in the context of the constitution, 'Inalienable Rights' must mean the right is intangible, it cannot be compromoised by earthly means. The rights exist outside of us and therfore are outside of our ability to compromise them. Where could such a right come from? How do we protect this right? How will it stand the test of despotism and social tyranny? The right was given to us by the supreme source and authority a "Creator".

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain Inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It is a perfectly indisputable argument. the rights were given to us by a creator which noone can appeal to, and therefore the rights are rock solid. It is this poetry which has been the immovable castle which our rights reside in.

Lets follow what Duwayne said and omit the words 'Inalienable' & now 'Creator'. and I ask three questions , What is the Right to Life? the right to Liberty? and The right to a pursuit of happiness?

Anonymous said...

Inalienable means incapable of being surrendered.