NATURAL RIGHT TO LIFE
>I would appreciate your thoughts on a question concerning natural >rights, pertainting to those of animals, and reciprocity. The question(s) >posed was (were): > >If life is a natural right, "the right to life", tell me why it is not dependent >upon others recognizing (reciprocating) that right. An interesting question, and I don't mean to give a glib answer. But if a natural right were dependent on others recognizing or reciprocating that right, then it would not be a natural right. In other words, if a right exists as a natural attribute associated with nature itself, then how could it be dependent upon the thought processes, the will, or the sentiments of another human being, or even of an animal? A natural right exists as a thing unto itself. That is why Jefferson wrote, "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them." --Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774. ME 1:211, Papers 1:135 The hand of force may not recognize or reciprocate. It may, in fact, destroy all the associated conditions, and deny in every way possible the liberty that is a natural right associated with life. It may, indeed, destroy life itself. But it cannot destroy the principle that liberty natural extends from, and cannot be disjoined from, life. My favorite analogy: Flight is a "natural right" of an Eagle. You can clip its wings, you can cage it, you can kill it. But you cannot change the fact that flight is a natural part of the Eagle's nature. As long as there are Eagles, that natural right will stand. In the final analysis, our natural rights would have little meaning if they were dependent upon recognition and reciprocation, because it is highly unlikely that our natural rights have ever been fully recognized. And how often are they violated and not reciprocated? Like "truth" and other such ideal qualities, they exist as things aimed for, but rarely, and sometimes never, achieved. But if they were defined by recognition and reciprocation, we would have little or no idea of what they were. They would be subject to the whim of man, and anyone could say, "No. MY idea is the correct idea of what is a natural right." The very idea of a natural right would dissolve into everyone's difference of opinion, and those differences would no doubt be so manipulated as to give an advantage to the person issuing the opinion. I realize that the above, lengthy as it is, does not exhaust what could be said about the natural right to life. What right does the state have to take the life of a murderer? And there are probably many other points that could be raised. But I think that is a fair outline of an explanation of natural rights.
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