In discussing Objectivism with others, I come across the issue of group rights and this particular perspective from a person I'm introducing objectivism to at the moment:
An individual can hold a right only as far as he can protect his rights from others. Some personal rights can very easily lead to self destruction. There are uses of personal rights that will most certainly lead to self destruction. Groups of people come together to more solidly protect the rights of individuals within the group. They do this by balancing what rights to protect and what rights not to protect and they must also balance the self destructive and predatory natures of man into this equation. The system of government is not perfect but lines must be drawn.
How does one counteract such an idea?
It is not the role of government, nor society to protect a person from himself. No one has the right to dictate how I live my life and whether my choices are optimal for it. This is the most basic individual right: to control the direction of my own life.
The proper role of government is to protect one individual from others who choose to interfere with force. This is precisely where lines are drawn.
In short, the government should interfere when a neighbor shows up with a club, when he chooses to steal, threaten or abuse my property or person. The neighbor does not get to argue that it was a reasonable action because he did not like what I eat for breakfast.
Abraham Lincoln explained these lines adequately: "One man's right ends on another man's nose."
answered Apr 16 '11 at 02:32
Kate Yoak ♦