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Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, in his series on Objectivism, said this about rights in Objectivism:

"By far, the weakest point of the Objectivist conception of rights is that they limit themselves to what are called negative rights, and dismiss anything that philosophers classify as positive rights."

Dr. Massimo Pigliucci goes on to say

"The problem is that — again as plenty of philosophers have pointed out — negative rights often become meaningless unless they are accompanied by positive rights. The obvious example is the pursuit of happiness: you may have that (negative) right, but without (positive) rights to education, decent wages, healthcare, etc. chances are that you might be unable to pursue happiness in any meaningful way. The negative right becomes hollow, and almost a mockery of the whole concept of rights. (Similar considerations apply to the rights to property and even to life: with negative rights only, you may end up barely alive and possess close to nothing under a wide range of scenarios made possible by laissez-faire capitalism."

What is the Objectivist response to this?

asked Feb 18 '14 at 19:33

KineticPhilosophy's gravatar image

KineticPhilosophy
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edited Feb 19 '14 at 20:25

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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2

Ayn Rand's original argument for rights (including why they must be "negative") is found in this essay: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=arc_ayn_rand_man_rights

In light of Rand's presentation, is there anything part of Pigliucci's argument that still seems compelling to you?

(Feb 19 '14 at 00:52) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

Is this the argument?

1) "without (positive) rights to education, decent wages, healthcare, etc. chances are that you might be unable to pursue happiness in any meaningful way" 2) Therefore, "[t]he negative right becomes hollow, and almost a mockery of the whole concept of rights." 3) Therefore, "negative rights often become meaningless unless they are accompanied by positive rights." 4) Therefore, "negative rights [are] meaningless, if they are not accompanied by positive rights".

If so, 1 is false, 2 doesn't follow from 1, 3 doesn't follow from 2, and 4 doesn't follow from 3.

(Feb 19 '14 at 19:23) anthony anthony's gravatar image

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Asked: Feb 18 '14 at 19:33

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Last updated: Feb 19 '14 at 20:25