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Rights Analysis Training Session 13.03.2015. Roadmap Why we need principled arguments What are these ‘rights’? Property and Tax Individual Liberty and.

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Presentation on theme: "Rights Analysis Training Session 13.03.2015. Roadmap Why we need principled arguments What are these ‘rights’? Property and Tax Individual Liberty and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rights Analysis Training Session

2 Roadmap Why we need principled arguments What are these ‘rights’? Property and Tax Individual Liberty and Paternalism Why do we need a state?

3 Why do we need ‘principled’ arguments? There basically no such thing as separate practical/principled argument, but a practical claim justified by a principled framework. In debate, framework is almost every time some version of Utilitarianism(i.e. what is the best thing for the most people) You need the analysis of why a right should/not exist in order for you to be able to argue for a policy that enhances/restricts that right

4 What are these ‘rights’? Clinical standards for morality. Codifications of the insight that certain actions lead to bad outcomes, which people fail to predict e.g.Trying to tell people what religion to follow is bad. People a)Either feel very sad because they cannot express themselves b) or resist this and then you get stuff like Holy Wars and Inquisitions So restriction of religion has bad outcomes that are predictable enough for us to form something like ‘the freedom of religion’.

5 What are these ‘rights’? Most of the times breaking them is bad, even if you think in that one particular situation it is justifiable Say you are some kind of monarch. You see that imposing a certain religion upon people has had bad outcomes, but you think that you have discovered The Absolute Truth, and such, it is justifiable for you to impose it on people. So it’s more like ‘ Doing X has failed to create good consequences, even if very smart people thought it wouldn’t.’ So having rights can protect us from a tyrannical state or a purely consequentialist decision(see for example Fascism). So only in very exceptional cases can the state infringe upon rights. See self-ownership and being in prison for committing murder.

6 What are these ‘rights’? Utility vs. Categorical Imperative Killing sb and giving organs to 10 people-appeal to what seems utility for judges Torture-can be argued that it creates higher utility, but still wrong So rights have some sort of universality that makes them work and protect us from purely consequentialist actions of the state/others.

7 Types of rights Negative(Liberty Rights)-freedoms that you have and most people can exercise without the help of the state(only framework) e.g. Freedom from torture Positive(Benefit Rights)-freedoms which require the active involvement of the state for them to exist. E.g. education Individual Community Legal-stricter account

8 Property, Theft and Tax Property- I am the owner of myself, my labour, and therefore what I produce through my labour. I put effort, skills, time etc. into producing something so it should be mine Property is the basic incentive for people to do anyhting in life(for most people) Should property rights be absolute, given that we are born unequal and we inherit unequal amounts of goods?

9 Property, Theft and Tax Les Miserables example: 1. Person dying of hunger. Very poor. Steals loaf of bread from a very rich person. Basically the difference it makes to the rich person is 0. But it keeps the person alive. Is theft justified? 2. If yes, then where does this stop? Say you have 1000 playstations and I don’t have any toy. I am not dying but the difference it makes to you is still negligible. Is theft justified? To the same level? How do we decide where it stops being justified(or partially justified)? Turns out if we start breaking basic principles, society(the order) tends to fall apart. That’s why we need the state to redistribute resources. We don’t trust individuals to make these decisions and individuals don’t trust each other if they know there is no general standard.

10 Property, Theft and Tax How to justify Tax If we agree that your ability to have property is secured by the existence of a framework which is provided by the state, then the state needs resources. So tax is necessary for property to be enforced If you argue that the state is there to enforce Benefit Rights, not only Liberty Rights, then it needs resources to do so You are not the sole owner of what you produce, because the state provides you with the means. It is justifiable for the state to ask for something in return There is a difference between fully owning yourself, and fully owning your labour. This is why slavery is forbidden, but employing people is not. You don’t own your abilities. There is a lot of chance in your abilities/status/property/social background. So taxing is not stealing, and state is justified into redistributing value.

11 Property, Theft and Tax How to justify tax(2) You are not the owner of your abilities(in the sense that a lot of what you are capable of doing is dependent of where you were born/your genes/cultural norms etc.) Progressive taxation justification-marginal benefit(see tickets example) We have created ideas such as ‘property’, ‘value’ State is not some ‘big bad wolf’, our organization takes the form of the state We need these concepts for society to be able to function Tax is not theft, just the state redefining what having property means

12 Individual liberty For Non objective values(photographs example) Individuals know best about what they value. Experience your own life-greater ownership over yourself Experiences felt on individual level-no ‘pool’ of utility, you basically sacrifice one person’s utility for others’ Against Children + irrational behaviour(beer example), information asymmetry Basically buying into the idea that people are not always in the position to make decisions. Probabilistic –lots of harms, generally action will result in harm Society in general-mutual constraints, so state has to balance them

13 Why do we need the state? Assessment(in Jean Vanljean case vs playstation) Some structure that impose ‘restrictions’. Trade-off possible. Hobbesian version of social contract-some use, but has problems We don’t buy into it, we are born into it. Maybe ‘state of nature does not actually exist’ etc. Collective action problems-environmental regulation. We all want clean water, but we all pollute just a little  never happens State might fail? Checks and balances-we form and reform the state Inactivity worse. Somalia for example.

14 Happy Holidays!


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