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Objectivism 101 Diana Mertz Hsieh Lecture Five: Individual Rights Thursday, July 4, 2002 13 th Annual Summer Seminar of The Objectivist Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Objectivism 101 Diana Mertz Hsieh Lecture Five: Individual Rights Thursday, July 4, 2002 13 th Annual Summer Seminar of The Objectivist Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Objectivism 101 Diana Mertz Hsieh Lecture Five: Individual Rights Thursday, July 4, th Annual Summer Seminar of The Objectivist Center

2 Objectivism 101 Schedule 1.SundayPhilosophy 2.MondayReality and Reason 3.TuesdayLife and Happiness 4.WednesdayThe Virtues 5.ThursdayIndividual Rights 6.FridaySpiritual Fuel

3 Politics  Politics defines the proper social system  What sort of interactions should be permitted or forbidden in society?  What is the role of government?

4 The Left: The Right:  Freedom of expression  Environmental laws  Lifestyle freedoms  Welfare for the poor  Public schools  Federal control  Rights of the accused  Personal freedoms  Regulations on obscenity  Economic prosperity  Family values  Private charity  School choice  Local governance  Rights of the victims  Economic freedoms

5 Objectivist Politics in Brief  Life in society requires that we recognize broad freedoms to action called individual rights  The government’s only legitimate function is to protect those individual rights from coercion  Capitalism is the only economic system grounded in individual rights

6 Life in Society  Why live in society at all?  The rewards of living in society: –Specialization and the division of labor –Accumulation and dissemination of knowledge –Personal relationships –And more!  The risks of living in society: –Criminals –Tyrannical government

7 The Necessity of Freedom  In order to live in society, we need to be free to… –Pursue our own lives and happiness –Form and act on our own judgments –Pursue both material and spiritual values –Trade with others to mutual benefit

8 Freedom and Philosophy: #1  In order to live in society, we need to be free to pursue our own lives and happiness  This freedom is grounded in the ethical principles of egoism and individualism  Opposing view: The lives of individuals are merely a means to the collective good of all

9 Freedom and Philosophy: #2  In order to live in society, we need to be free to form and act on our own judgments  This freedom is grounded in the epistemological principle of reason as the only source of knowledge  Opposing view: People must be forced into right opinion and right action

10 Freedom and Philosophy: #3  In order to live in society, we need to be free to pursue both material and spiritual values  This freedom is grounded in the metaphysical principle of mind-body integration

11 Freedom and Philosophy: #4  In order to live in society, we need to be free to trade with others to mutual benefit  This freedom is grounded in social ethics principle of harmony of interests

12 The Necessity of Freedom  In order to live in society, we need to be free to… –Pursue our own lives and happiness  Egoism (ethics) –Form and act on our own judgments  Reason (epistemology) –Pursue both material and spiritual values  Mind-body integration (metaphysics) –Trade with others to mutual benefit  Harmony of interests (social ethics)

13 Individual Rights  Rights are principles defining and sanctioning freedom of action in social setting  Rights are rights to action, not rights to goods or rights outcomes  In other words, society must recognize and protect our rights to… –Life –Liberty –Property –The pursuit of happiness

14 The Evil of Coercion  Rights can only be infringed by the initiation of force  Three forms of coercion/force: –Violence –Threats –Fraud  Economic coercion is a myth

15 The Role of Government  The only legitimate function of government is to protect individual rights  So the only legitimate domains of government are: –Police –Courts –Military  Government is not a necessary evil

16 Economic Systems  Socialism: All economic activity is directly under government control –No private ownership or control of property –No freedom to privately contract  Fascism: All economic activity is regulated by the government –Nominal private ownership of property, but with government control –Regulation of contracts  Capitalism –Private ownership and control over property –Full freedom to contract

17 Capitalism  Laissez-faire capitalism as moral ideal and practical necessity  Capitalism as system of trade and individual rights

18 Violations of Rights  Drug laws  Welfare programs  Business regulations  Anti-discrimination laws  Environmental regulations  Gun regulations  The draft  Anti-trust laws

19 Today’s Topics  Life in society  The need for freedom  The evil of coercion  Individual rights  The role of government  Socialism and fascism  Capitalism  Violations of rights


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