Why there is no "right" to a minimum standard of l

Most people need three meals a day–that’s a pretty basic thing, right? So everyone has a right to three meals a day, right?


Those three meals must come from somewhere. Either the person consuming them produces them or convinces someone else to produce them for him (by offering him money, for instance) or someone else has to do it against his will. So let’s say the person who would be receiving the meals, for whatever reason–laziness or he just isn’t able to or whatever–does not produce them, nor does he earn through some means enough of what someone else values to exchange with that person to produce the meals for him. Since he has a right to these meals, then someone else has an obligation to produce them for him regardless of whether or not he wants to–in other words, he is a slave to the man receiving the meals.

Obviously, by altering the nouns, this applies to any other thing necessary to live, and so we can conclude that there is no “right” to a minimum standard of living; you either have to earn it yourself or convince others to give it to you of their own free will. Unless, of course, you like slavery.

No-one has any rights in a literal sense, it’s not like god will strike me down if I walk past a beggar on the street without giving them change. However for society to work they must be accepted. What would you say if instead of your example I applied your attitude to breach of contract and obligations similar to that?
Also, the term slavery is misleading. By participating in any society you gain obligations as well as benefits.

Kurt, you’re immediate jump in your assumption from having a need translating to a want is flawed. you’ll have to justify this before reaching your conclusion. i have many needs that are not recognized rights.

This doesn’t mean rights don’t exist, as Grave Disorder argues. i’m pretty convinced by the enlightenment argument that the basic right to man is his right to liberty. something most men agree to limit or forfeit in a society, as you pointed out.

trix: I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but I do get the impression that you think I said that there are no rights. That is not what I said–I said that there is not a right to a minimum standard of living, because if there were then there would be an obligation on the part of someone else to produce what is necessary and thus that person would be a slave.

Kurt, as I see it by your obligation to society you gain the protection and acceptance of that society, so it’s not slavery, just a transaction like any other.
Trix, how do you justify your conception of rights? I would like to find a credible way of justifying rights without bringing god or natural law into it.

Well kurt i do enjoy your thoughts i must say that you are perhaps wrong. In a sense that perhaps another was trying to illuminate.

I may need a meal or three to survive, If i do not fix the meal for me, and if i do not purchase my meal, then your saying one will be provided for me because some how i deserve to get one. I may want one, I may Need one. But any force used to obtain one is just like purchasing a meal. Force and fear are used as currency.

Lets use water instead of meals. I need so much water to live. Water is basically free, and easy to find. I can either purchase or obtain my own water. But no one is forced by someone else to provide me with my much needed water.

This is one of these situations
Man: Universe, I exist and want water
Unvierse: And?

But let’s say that you’re too lazy to get up and go get the water yourself. If there’s a guarantee that you will have plenty of water to drink, then someone else has to go get it for you–otherwise the guarantee is meaningless. If no one is willing to go get it for you, then in order to fulfill the guarantee someone must be forced to go get it for you–and then he is a slave. Thus, creating a guarantee to anything (as opposed to a guarantee to be free from being prevented to do something) creates slaves as well.

Kurt wrote:

making the connection from having a need, to a right. he clarified this by saying that:

in nature, yes, no man has an obligation to provide for another man’s standard of living. a man must feed himself.

in societies, however, are formed much they way Grave Disorder’s stated; they are transactions. this does not mean everyone in society needs to open their homes to beggers. this means that everyone in society needs to pay taxes, and the government should provide the oppurtunity for everyone to a min. standard of living. this is not about feeding the poor, it is about ensuring that they are not prevented from the means of eating.

Grave Disorder, a basic human right is the right to liberty. hobbes and locke both argue this point well without falling back on god or natural law. if you’re not familiar with them i’ll outline their arguments, and if you don’t agree with some points i’ll argue them.

Trix, is that the utilitarian concept that as each man knows best how to increase his own happiness, there should be minimal intervention in his pursuit of happiness? If not, I’d like you to explain it to me please…

It’s not me making the jump, it’s proponents of a massive welfare system funded by coercion that do. I’m explaining why they’re wrong.:

That’s not the same as saying there is a guarantee that you will have food even if you don’t do anything to obtain it–in other words, that you are entitled to food whether or not you earn it merely because you happen to exist. It is that myth that I was arguing against in my original post.

i think you’re skewing the argument – or taking it to a massive extreme. some people don’t want to be forced into shelters or half-way houses. they should decided if they want to attain the standard of living or not. i doubt any liberal would argue the forcing of such an act. what liberals do argue is that the opportunity for this standard of living should be there. this opportunity is a necessary part of any society.

Grave Disorder,

i was actually referring to the older theory roughly of the social contract lines. rawls argues an updated point of this. that society is an artificial creation of man, and because it was only entered to improve man’s self-preservation, the society is obliged to ensure that every member has this capability.

Why are you entitled to exist? If I or my family is starving, you have food, I am bigger than you, what right do you have to exist?

And when someone takes this opportunity, someone else is enslaved to him to produce what he takes.

Neither you nor I are “entitled” to exist. I am free to exist, but I am not “entitled” to an existence. If I can obtain what I need in order to exist through legitimate means, free from the use of force (i.e.by working for it myself or convincing others to voluntarily provide it or just gettling lucky), more power to me. But a freedom to do something is not an entitlement.

Anyway, a right’s existence is independent of its practical ability to be exercised.

Hardly. This hypothetically entaxed individual can:
A) Emigrate
B) Vote for the Randroid party
C) Become a hermit and seal himself off from other human beings for the rest of his life.
Moreover, this individual would need to take something from the society to accumulate wealth in the capitalist fashion, he (or she) would need to interact with other human beings. Why should this hypothetical individual take something without giving something back? Is this not theft?



What do you mean by ‘legitimate means’ except to exempt all things you feel are illegitimate (play it my way or it’s illegitimate).

But, working from your parenthetical remark, doesn’t it follow that we are also free to enter into agreements where we collectively work together so that we persuade one individual to do what we want? We aren’t entitled to three meals a day, but we can persuade others to give those meals to us, and persuade other individuals to collectively bargain as long as it’s legitimate.

Yeah, I’m with Brad… some libertarians have dubious definitions of “legitimate”.

This is true. But doesn’t a right’s existence demand that as many as possible be able to exercise it?

What’s vague about it.

Legitimate means == those which respect the rights of others

Yes, of course. But don’t try and use physical force to coerce someone to provide you with the meals against his will.

So we can freely associate, bargain collectively, and refuse to participate, a non-physical form of force, it then follows that we may bargain for three meals a day with or without participation as a condition of participation itself.

Those three meals have nothing to do with moral obligations, entitlements, or rights, they are the result of a transaction between free individuals.

Yeah, but that has nothing to do with the point of my original post, which is that there cannot be a guarantee to a minimum standard of living in a free society.