The Instigator
Mike_10-4
Pro (for)
Tied
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The Contender
Burncastle
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

All life has Unalienable Rights

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/7/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 879 times Debate No: 56199
Debate Rounds (4)
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Mike_10-4

Pro

I (Pro) would like to explore a different vantage point with (Con) in the construct of life"s Unalienable Rights are part of the physical Laws of Nature, not man-made.

The term Unalienable Rights originated with Thomas Jefferson"s celebrated statement where he found it "self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Takac, presents an interesting approach in his book "Scientific Proof of Our Unalienable Rights" revisiting Jefferson"s claim by treating those Unalienable Rights as life"s primitives: of once alive "Life," has the freedom ("Liberty"), to expend bio-energy in "the pursuit of" positive-feedback (aka, survival, chemical/electrical, evolution, etc., including the emotion of "Happiness" for us humans).

http://www.bookdaily.com...

Takac"s foundation is based on the Constructal Law, a relatively new physical law discovered by Adrian Bejan.

http://www.amazon.com...

Ideally Con is familiar with the above references, but it is not a prerequisite. Pro would like to keep the debate in the realm of physical science as oppose to metaphysical speculation.

Round 1 is for Acceptance
Round 2 is for Arguments
Round 3 is for Rebuttal
Round 4 is for Closing Statements
Burncastle

Con

I have never really debated this subject so I'm looking forward to learn new things. I would like to point out that my opponent states that ALL LIFE has undeniable rights, which includes animals, insects, plants and bacteria. It would have been easy to say "humans" have unalienable rights or "we" have unalienable rights, but my opponent chose "all life" so I believe I'm not playing on semantics when I assert that he is indeed referring to "all living things".

I am eager to see how my opponent is going to argue for the existence of unalienable rights while staying "in the realm physical science", considering that rights are not physical things.

Obviously, since my opponent is claiming that unalienable rights actually do exist, he has the burden of proof. Plus I would never claim to be able to prove that unalienable rights in fact do NOT exist, especially if I'm limited to physical science.

I am not familiar with the books that my opponent has presented, but I won't mind if he uses arguments that he found in these books, and I would actually encourage him to do so.

In my opponent's next round, I would like him to present a complete list of rights that he considers to be unalienable, so that I can better comprehend his position.

I am looking forward to learning new things and having fun!
Debate Round No. 1
Mike_10-4

Pro

"Learning new things and having fun" is what debate in science is all about.

Starting with Jefferson's claim (The US Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776) and working down to the physical Laws of Nature we have the following:

Jefferson's claim that all humans have the following Unalienable Rights: "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

The list of these Rights (Jefferson):
1) The Right to "Life"
2) The Right to freedom ("Liberty")
3) The Right in "the pursuit of Happiness"

Takac argues Jefferson's claim of "Rights" are actually life's basic primitives that apply to all life in the following: "All living-systems have Unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of positive-feedback."

Living-systems include the entire spectrum of life, from a single living cell, to social systems.

That is, when any living entity comes into existence "Life," it must have freedom ("Liberty") within its domain, in "the pursuit of" survival; otherwise, there is no life. Survival is a prerequisite for positive-feedback, where survival is positive-feedback onto itself.

Adrian Bejan, the Constructal Law, explains how everything that moves, whether animate or inanimate, naturally evolve in ways that facilitate such movement. Takac, claims that movement for all "Live" includes "Liberty" that facilitates "the pursuit," of positive-feedback

The Constructal Law (Bejan):

Given freedom, for a finite-sized flow system to persist in time (to live), its configuration must evolve in such a way that provides easier access to the currents that flow through it.

The following is a youtube overview of the Constructal Law:
https://www.youtube.com...

The Constructal Law is an outgrowth of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Movement of flow in thermodynamics, in general, high temperature to lower temperature, high resistance to lower resistance, high pressure to lower pressure. Since all life is a product of the Laws of Nature, one may find symmetry in human behavior relative to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that is, in general but not exclusively, the tendency to move in ways to improve efficiency ("in the pursuit of"), by taking the shortest path. Movement from societies having high resistance of tyranny to those supporting the low resistance found in freedom, move from high taxed areas to lower taxed communities, the desire to decrease pressure by going with the flow, from the high pressure of stress to the comfort of less stress, and so on.

As a side note, Jefferson used the term "Rights" where Takac used the term "primitives" interchangeably with "Rights." We should not get stuck in the weeds of semantic fidelity, but focus on the pattern from Jefferson's claim down to the Second Law of Thermodynamics via the Constructal Law. That is what science is all about, the study of symmetry and repeatable patterns, and how those patterns can advance the standard of living.

And in closing, in our modern day of science and technology, perhaps, it would be prudent to revisit Jefferson's claim and examine the scientific merit in bringing said claim front and center for debate. Such debate may spark a renaissance in social and economic systems and their dependency on the physical Laws of Nature. And in saying that, let the debate begin.
Burncastle

Con

""Learning new things and having fun" is what debate in science is all about." I am glad that we agree on that.

"Takac argues Jefferson's claim of "Rights" are actually life's basic primitives that apply to all life in the following: "All living-systems have Unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of positive-feedback."" Ok, but this is not an argument. I would like my opponent to explain to me HOW Takac came to that conclusion.

"That is, when any living entity comes into existence "Life," it must have freedom ("Liberty") within its domain, in "the pursuit of" survival; otherwise, there is no life." Saying that it MUST have freedom does not mean that it DOES have freedom and much less that it has an unalienable right to freedom. And I agree that without the desire to survive there would be no life (or, at the very least, it would be extremely short), but that does not say anything about whether or not every living has a RIGHT to life. Desire does not equal right.

"Survival is a prerequisite for positive-feedback, where survival is positive-feedback onto itself." I think there is a mistake in that sentence so I would ask my opponent to correct it so that I can properly address it (on of the two "survival" doesn't seem to fit).

"Takac, claims that movement for all "Live" includes "Liberty" that facilitates "the pursuit," of positive-feedback" The fact that living organism express liberty and freedom does not mean that they have an unalienable right to it.

"Given freedom, for a finite-sized flow system to persist in time (to live), its configuration must evolve in such a way that provides easier access to the currents that flow through it." What does this have to do with the topic?

The YouTube video is rather pointless; it talks about how things tend to evolve, which is irrelevant to the topic. The same goes for the paragraph about the second law of thermodynamics, since a "tendency" can hardly be considered an "unalienable right".

Now, are the rights that my opponent presented (life, freedom and happiness) really "unalienable?

An unalienable right is defined as "A right according to natural law, a right that cannot be taken away, denied or transferred" (http://dictionary.reference.com...). The important part of this definition is "cannot be taken away, denied", because it contradicts reality: When someone is murdered, their right to life is taken away. When someone is imprisoned, their right to freedom (and happiness) is taken away. The fact that our rights CAN be taken away negates the notion that they are unalienable. Society grants these rights and promises to protect them precisely because they are alienable.

I await my opponent's response.

Debate Round No. 2
Mike_10-4

Pro

My opponent failed to see the argument Takac was making relative to Jefferson's claim. And for good reason, perhaps, I was not clear on that point. Jefferson claimed these Unalienable Rights only pertain to "all men," where Takac argues that these Rights apply to all living-systems (from a single living cell, to humans, to tribes, to corporations, to governments, etc.).

A few examples will demonstrate the scope of these Rights, the Unalienable nature of them, and the dynamic reflection of the Constructal Law within them. In going forward, the term "Happiness" is a metaphor for positive-feedback.

In the plant kingdom, a tree example illustrates the Unalienable nature of these Rights, and the logic of this example may be used as a template for all forms of living-systems. A tree sprout begins its life cycle in the pollination/fertilization stage, with the formation of a seed that has the Right to "Life" under favorable soil conditions. To maintain this "Life," the sprout requires the freedom ("Liberty") to grow and "pursue" bio-positive feedback ("Happiness") in the form of the nourishment it receives from light. If one were to place a sheet of transparent glass on the soil, thereby taking away the sprout's freedom ("Liberty") to grow, the sprout would die. In addition, if one were to place an opaque box over the sprout, thereby preserving its "Liberty" to grow but cutting it off from its source of light, bio-positive feedback ("Happiness"), it would die.

A human ("Life") has the freedom ("Liberty") in "the pursuit" of food and water (bio-positive feedback for survival, "Happiness"). Lock the human in a prison cell, taking his freedom ("Liberty") away from "the pursuit of" food and water outside his cell. In a short time he will die. Give the human freedom but place him in the middle of a desert without any food or water hundreds of miles away, taking away his Right to "pursue" positive-feedback for survival ("Happiness"). In a short time he will die.

A corporation is created by a charter that gives it the Right to corporate "Life." The free market provides the corporation with "Liberty," as it "pursues Happiness" through such objectives as profits and growth. When corporate "Liberty" is obstructed via over-regulation, high taxes, controlled markets, etc., its "pursuit of Happiness" is hindered. The results of this hindrance may be bankruptcy, going out of business, a move to a more profitable location, or a result to engaging in crony-capitalism for survival.

In the above examples, by their "Unalienable" nature, indicates these Rights cannot be taken away. Notably, it would be impossible to take away any one of the Rights while leaving the other two intact, as all of the Rights are dependent on one another. Without "Life," one cannot enjoy "Liberty" or "pursue Happiness." Without "Liberty," one cannot "pursue Happiness," and as this "pursuit" often overlaps with the "pursuit of" survival, one is unable to continue "Life." Without the "pursuit of Happiness"/survival, one cannot continue "Life" or enjoy "Liberty." Because of their interdependency and tendency to wane simultaneously with various degrees of obstruction, the three Rights define a spectrum. The positive end of the spectrum is a position of Life, Liberty, and Happiness (positive feedback), while the negative end is a position of death, tyranny, and distress (negative feedback).

Therefore, these Rights are Unalienable for all life. Take anyone away, in an absolute context, there is death, for death has no Unalienable Rights, only life has them.

Within the Constructal Law dynamics, Unalienable Rights maintains a natural tendency during the struggle of survival to support, prolong, and improve "Life." At the same time, there is an inherent drive to increase "Liberty," with an ongoing effort to reduce and optimize the energy expended during "the pursuit of" an objective, while increasing and exploring new levels of "Happiness," fulfillment, pleasure, and anything to do with positive feedback. Our Unalienable Rights help us to thrive as we operate within the matrix of the Laws of Nature and interact with all living-systems throughout the continuum of life. A bio-program, having an organically persuasive, self-adjusting, fine-tuning algorithm throughout the flux of life's Unalienable Rights; encouraging the flow of "Life" to take the path of least resistance, in the attempt to satisfy the "pursuit of" its objectives, to maintain survival, or search for new levels of positive feedback ("Happiness" aka evolution).

From the above examples, I hope my opponent could see the point I was trying to make regarding survival being a positive-feedback event, in addition, survival is a prerequisite for the pursuit of any other objective resulting in additional positive-feedback.

My opponent mentioned "natural law," which is the metaphysical side of our Unalienable Rights having a rich philosophical historical record of symmetry, in ideology, among many scholars throughout the ages. The focus of this debate is the symmetry of an observable pattern persisting throughout life, call it Unalienable Rights (Jefferson), primitives (Takac), Constructal Law (Bejan). Bejan expanse the generalization of this pattern to include inanimate flow. Clearly, through the observation of our senses, there is a pattern having its roots in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Why not? Life is a flow system, and life is a product of the Laws of Nature.

Bejan put it so eloquently in the following:

"Life is movement. Every living system performs better when the power that is required for maintaining its movement is minimized. Just as lightning bolts and river basins should generate treelike structures to reduce thermodynamic imperfection and increase flow access, animals should have evolved to cover a greater distance for less effort, which means per unit of useful energy derived from food."

http://www.amazon.com...

The second part of the last sentence (in the above Bejan's quote), maintains a reflection of that familiar pattern of life's Unalienable Rights (Jefferson), or life's primitives (Takac).

Even Herbert Spencer, some 80 plus years after Jefferson, coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" when studying Charles Darwin's research. Simply put, "Life," must have the freedom ("Liberty") in "the pursuit of" survival (positive-feedback, "Happiness" for the "fittest"). Perhaps, unbeknownst to Herbert and Charles, their observations were the embodiment of Jefferson's Rights.

Digressing for a moment, imagine what the first half of the last century would have been like if Social Darwinism was influenced by the phrase "survival of the happiest," instead of "survival of the fittest." Just a thought.

My Friend Burncastle (aka my opponent) that is what science is all about. Observing patterns, trying to understand nature and our place in it. There is nothing new here, just a new way of looking at something very old. And that new way could benefit humanity like the many other repeatable patterns, which were classified as Laws, blossoming in the fruits of technology, food production, and medicine, the stables of human existence throughout the world today. A compelling example of what happens when our Rights are free to operate within the awesome machinery of nature.
Burncastle

Con

I thank my opponent for his response.

"In going forward, the term "Happiness" is a metaphor for positive-feedback." I reject that statement. Happiness is the feeling humans (and perhaps animals) get when they RECEIVE positive feedback, but it is not positive feedback in itself. As far as we know, insects, plants and bacteria can not feel happiness, or any other emotion for that matter.

The following paragraph ("In the plant kingdom (...) it would die") can be summarized to this: Without liberty and happiness (and life), plants would die. While I grant that plants required some basics resources to survive, I fail to see how that is relevant to the topic of this debate. Whether or not they need anything to survive is irrelevant to whether they have an unalienable right to it. Moreover, "taking away the sprout's freedom ("Liberty") to grow" is not the direct cause of it's death, taking away the sun is more likely to cause it's death. I would add that the concept of "liberty", when we are referring to plants, does not seem to be coherent; plants have no freedom because they are unable to choose (because they are not conscious beings).

The paragraph about humans fails for the same reason: Whether or not we need anything in order to survive has no bearing on whether we have unalienable rights to these things. I would also argue that we do not actually NEED freedom or happiness to survive; slaves were neither free nor happy (for the most part) and yet some of them survived for quite some time (to be clear, I am absolutely against slavery).

Given the fact that corporations are not living things, I will disregard this argument.

"In the above examples, by their "Unalienable" nature, indicates these Rights cannot be taken away." The above examples do not indicate that these rights can not be taken away, they actually acknowledge that they CAN be taken away and proceed to describe what would happen if they were.

"Notably, it would be impossible to take away any one of the Rights while leaving the other two intact, as all of the Rights are dependent on one another." Even if that were true, that would only mean that they are dependant on one another, not that they are unalienable. Now let's see if this statement is actually true:

- "Without "Life," one cannot enjoy "Liberty" or "pursue Happiness."" I agree.
- "Without "Liberty," one cannot "pursue Happiness," and as this "pursuit" often overlaps with the "pursuit of" survival, one is unable to continue "Life."" I strongly disagree that "pursuit of happiness" is related to "pursuit of survival", I would in fact argue that if you must "pursue" survival, you are not going to be very happy. Happiness is something we strive for when our survival is insured (check out Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs).
- "Without the "pursuit of Happiness"/survival, one cannot continue "Life" or enjoy "Liberty."" Since I disagree that pursuit of happiness is the equivalent of survival, I obviously disagree that this necessarily leads to death.

In conclusion, these rights are not dependant on one another.

"Therefore, these Rights are Unalienable for all life. Take anyone away, in an absolute context, there is death, for death has no Unalienable Rights, only life has them." As I have said before, the consequences that would emerge from not having a certain right has no bearing on whether or not we actually have it. These consequences are the reason why society GRANTS those rights and promises to PROTECT them.

I'm really having a hard time understanding what the Constructal Law dynamics has to do with this debate. Rights are never mentioned in the video and the whole theory is in no way related to the concept of rights. It basically points to the the way living organism usually behave, but then my opponent labels these as "rights", which they are not.

"I hope my opponent could see the point I was trying to make regarding survival being a positive-feedback event" I obviously agree that survival is positive. But again, this is irrelevant.

"The focus of this debate is the symmetry of an observable pattern persisting throughout life, call it Unalienable Rights (Jefferson)" This quote is illustrative of my opponent's mistake; he believes that rights are simply description of the behavior of life, but they are not:

A right is defined as "an entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process, or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal." http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com...

One can not simply apply a label to something in order to claim that it exists; for example, I can not label my aunt a fairy in order to prove the existence of fairies. Yet my opponent is trying to label "living organism's behavior" as "unalienable rights" in order to claim that they do exist.

""Life is movement. Every living system performs better when the power that is required for maintaining its movement is minimized. Just as lightning bolts and river basins should generate treelike structures to reduce thermodynamic imperfection and increase flow access, animals should have evolved to cover a greater distance for less effort, which means per unit of useful energy derived from food."" Once again, irrelevant. This debate is not about "how life behaves", it is about the existence of unalienable rights.

"that is what science is all about. Observing patterns, trying to understand nature and our place in it." I agree, but by their very nature, rights can not be observed and therefore can not be studied by science.

I will my argument, since my opponent did not address it:

An unalienable right is defined as "A right according to natural law, a right that cannot be taken away, denied or transferred" (http://dictionary.reference.com......). The important part of this definition is "cannot be taken away, denied", because it contradicts reality: When someone is murdered, their right to life is taken away. When someone is imprisoned, their right to freedom (and happiness) is taken away. The fact that our rights CAN be taken away negates the notion that they are unalienable. Society grants these rights and promises to protect them precisely because they are alienable.

I await my opponent's rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 3
Mike_10-4

Pro

We are now in Round 4, closing statements. I thank my opponent for his perception of Unalienable Rights.

I regret to say, I failed in keeping my opponent focus in the physical domain, where most of his rebuttal came from "natural law" based on metaphysical speculation (in part, my opponent's reference to "Maslow's Hierarchy," the "legal-dictionary..." etc.). I understand that is a hard barrier to break when using the scientific method in studying living-system patterns relative to the physical Laws of Nature, the Laws that created all living-systems.

Over 200 years ago Thomas Jefferson made the claim that everyone has Unalienable Rights, and these Rights are not man-made, nor can "society GRANT those rights," for we are born with them. Since these Rights are not man-made, Takac took on the challenge to prove Jefferson's claim via the newly discovered Constructal Law.

New discoveries in scientific research always face an uphill battle in adding more scope to the current language (expanding the concept of Rights, for example) and inventing new terms. This phase of discovery is rich in debate, a very natural and important phase, as myself and my opponent are now engaged on such frontier.

I have learned from my opponent the barriers of metaphysics will be challenging linking the physical Laws of Nature to the primitives of social behavior via the Constructal Law.

I hope my opponent finds this subject inviting to the point of exploring the topic in greater detail. These four short rounds only scratch the surface on a simple topic deserving review by the human family.

In closing, I wish my opponent a healthy "Life," having enough "Liberty" (aka money), "in the [moral] pursuit of Happiness" relative to his comfort zone. In other words, enjoy your Unalienable Rights and the pleasure when morally embracing your neighbor's Unalienable Rights, during your short vacation from nonexistence.
Burncastle

Con

In conclusion, my opponent made basically two major arguments:

1) Life tends to follow a certain pattern. We can call this pattern Unalienable Rights.

- This is a game of labels; it is akin to calling the Universe "God" in order to claim that God exists. One might as well call
a debate a "war" in order to claim to be a veteran of the army.

2) Without liberty, happiness and life, things tend to die.

- Not only is this false (except for life, obviously), but it is also an appeal to consequences. Moreover, as I have previously said, the fact that living things NEED something does not make that something real.

My opponent made a strategic mistake when he decided to apply "unalienable" to the concept of rights. Something that is unalienable CAN NOT be taken, by definition; not SHOULD NOT or MUST NOT. When my opponent acknowledged that the rights he mentioned could actually be taken away, he contradicted his position.

My opponent complains that I used metaphysics in this debate. But he seems to be unaware that rights ARE metaphysical; they can not be measured, tested, seen, touched, etc.

I thank my opponent for this very interesting debate!

Debate Round No. 4
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