The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Health care/education is NOT a right

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/14/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 500 times Debate No: 77665
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




Since I had an opponent drop out I guess I need to edit this. I argue that heath care/education is not a right. In order for something to be a right, everyone must be able to exercise the "right" at the exact same time.

First round you must accept AND add in your argument OR rebuttal.

That is it! I made my argument! Make yours!



To begin with, I reject Pro's argument that "In order for something to be a right, everyone must be able to exercise the "right" at the exact same time." There are many constitutionally protected rights that cannot be exercised by everyone at the same time. With respect to rights specifically enumerated in the constitution, the right to a trial by jury, or to be represented by an attorney, or against self-incrimination, only operate when you are accused of a crime. The right to bear arms does not apply to felons. Even our most fundamental rights - like the rights to freedom of speech or religion - cannot truly be exercised by everybody at the same time; these rights are meaningless to, for instance, very small children and infants who do not have the capacity to even understand them.

The courts of the United States have recognized other rights and liberties that are protected under the constitutional requirement that no person can be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law -- rights like the right to marry, or to send your children to religious school. Those rights only apply to adults and parents, respectively. Because I don't have children, I cannot right now exercise the right to send my children to religious school - but it's still a protected right.

Pro's criteria for rejecting a right to health care or education therefore does not withstand even a brief examination.

So what are "rights"? Rights stem from "recognition of the inherent dignity ... of all members of the human family." Our understanding of rights can - and has - evolved over time to include "freedom from fear and want" as part of what humanity aspires to achieve for all people. Accordingly, both access to adequate medical care and universal access to education have been recognized as inalienable human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [1]

Debate Round No. 1


I thank con for accepting this debate!

Lets look at the "rights" con listed. A "right" to a trial by jury or a "right" to an attorney. This falls flat when we understand that a right can only be a "right" if it does not violate the "right" of another human. The use of force is carried out to make people sit as a jury, who would otherwise spend their time doing what ever else they wish to do. It is irrelevant if a group of people say "this is now a right!!". If it violates the right of another human, it cannot be a "right". The "right" to an attorney falls flat as well. Public attorneys are paid with taxes. By definition, public attorneys are paid with stolen money as theft is when something (money) is taken from someone without their consent. Therefore, a "right" is not a "right" simply because a police officer or judge says "you have a right to an attorney". It violates the "rights" of other people. Con goes on to say the right to bear arms does not apply to felons. Well in many states this so called "right" written by man fails people on a daily basis. In New York state, a judge can be as arbitrary (which is why man cannot create a right) as he/she wants. If a person has too many parking tickets, the judge can declare the person cannot have a handgun. This is besides the fact that a handgun is a firearm, yet in New York, one must apply for a permit.

See a small group of people who claim the "right" to rule over 300,000,000 other people cannot create "rights" simply because they arbitrarily choose when to uphold or toss out those "rights". The "right" to marry for example was tossed out for gays for a long time. Now the small group of people who rule say, "ok we guess you can have these rights too". Rights are not given to people by courts, police, politicians etc. This notion that people have a right to education implies that someone is forced to educate. Otherwise they are violating the "right" of the person wanting to be educated. Rights are not given. They just are. Man can recognize these "rights" or not. That is irrelevant.

I do not argue that people should have a good education. I do not argue that people should have good health care. However, to say these are "rights" would imply someone must give the education or health care, which is an irrational thought to have. People have the right to educate themselves. People have the right to provide their own health care, but that is not what this debate is about. It is about people saying other people should be forced to pay or actually do the educating because a small group of rulers declare its their "right"


Thanks for your response, Pro.

First of all, I'd like to note that Pro has not offered a defense of his initial argument that "In order for something to be a right, everyone must be able to exercise the 'right' at the exact same time." At most, Pro has challenged whether a few of the rights I identified (from the Bill of Rights) are actually "rights," since they depend on compulsion. I'll get to that in a bit. But I also identified several rights which Pro has not rejected - the right against self-incrimination, freedom of speech and religion, and the right to send children to religious school. As I demonstrated above, none of these rights can be exercised by every person at the same time. That line of reasoning by Pro this stands rebutted.

But let's get into the meat of this debate, which turns on how we define a "right." The rights I identified all come from sources of positive law - the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court case law, and international law, specifically. My opponent doesn't coherently define a "right" - he says instead that "Rights...just are." They are not something that can be "given," but only "recognize[d]."

"They just are" isn't even an argument; it's a bald assertion that nobody should accept on any topic. What is the source of rights? God? The state? Natural law? I would reject all of those answers, for various reasons, but we need to make the effort to define what a "right" is if we're going to argue about whether certain things - like healthcare, education, or jury trials - are rights or not.

So to answer this question, let's contrast how my opponent and I are applying rights theory. For my opponent, all rights seem to boil down to a single right - the right to not be compelled or coerced to do anything one does not wish to do by anybody, limited only to the extent that one must honor the reciprocal right of others to be free from coercion. But this is not a right that has ever been broadly - or even narrowly - recognized within any society. Setting aside for the moment whether this is workable at all in practice (it isn't), it represents a deeply ahistorical understanding of what "rights" are, because woven into the very concept of rights is the concept of Rule of Law.

While this space is much to restrictive to examine the full history of rights theory, two historical examples will suffice. The Magna Carta - probably the first legal implementation of rights as we conceive of them today - protected every "free man" from being imprisoned, striped of possessions, exiled, or made the object of force "except by lawful judgment...or the laws of the land." Five hundred years later, the US Constitution does similarly. It doesn't put a blanket restriction on being deprived of "life, liberty or property" - it instead requires such deprivations to be made according to "due process of law." Rights are - as a matter of history, common understanding, and common implementation throughout the world - a legal concept.

Thus, my opponent is incorrect when he states that, for instance, taxes are theft, because although he is being deprived of his property, it is through the operation of due process of law. Our democratically elected representatives established a legal taxation scheme that applies to all equally, and it is administered according to the legal standards developed by Courts and agencies in applying that law. Simple, consistent, rule of law. Taxation does not violate my rights or Pro's, because due process is accorded. And if one of us were to cease paying taxes, our liberty might be taken away, but again, only after a criminal trial in a court of law represented by an attorney before an impartial jury of fellow citizens, and according to rules and sentencing guidelines that have been publicly established and made freely available. Rule of law. The jurors' rights are not being violated, for they are compelled to attend by legal process. Rule of law.

Rights are, then, are not like a scientific law - they don't pre-exist, awaiting discovery. They are created by us, by the consensus of society over time and implemented in our legal codes. Like "honor" or "detective stories" or "Tuesday," they are socially created concepts that only have meaning only to the extent that we agree as to what they mean. These meanings may be firmly culturally entrenched, perhaps, but subject to changes in our collective understanding.

As a modern understanding of human rights was codified into international law in the aftermath of World War II, we, as members of an international community, identified healthcare and education as among the human rights worth furthering and working to ensure for every person. Every democratic nation on the planet - and many that are not - has implemented systems via government to ensure that these rights are satisfied. They have become part of the consensus of rights protected widely throughout the world. Because of that broadly shared consensus, I hold that healthcare and education are rights.
Debate Round No. 2


I must reject Cons argument that the constitution or law for that matter gives us any rights at all. The constitution or any "legal" document has no authority or obligation at all, unless between man and man. There is not enough space to go into how the constitution is a completely irrelevant document in todays day and age of law and reason, so I will refer you to the book from Lysander Spooner, "No Treason, The Constitution Of No Authority". In there is lays out how anything, including "rights", fall flat when it comes to the constitution. The same rational logic and understanding of law and reason you will find in that book, can be applied to other documents including the bill of rights. I will give a quote from the first page of the book to show how the lawyer Lysander Spooner logically breaks apart this "binding" contract. "They had no NATURAL power or right to make it obligatory upon their children. It is not only plainly impossible, in the NATURE of things, that they could bind their posterity, but they did not even attempt to bind them. That is to say, the instrument (constitution) does not purport to be an agreement between any body but "the people" THEN existing; nor does it, either expressly or impliedly, assert any right, power, or disposition, on their part, to bind any body but themselves.". The reason I am even telling the audience this is because Con, (as well as many others), is under the illusion that a government has authority to do anything at all, let alone "create rights". The only way a government does anything is by force. So just because a group of individuals write down something on parchment and claim it to be a right or for that matter a law is absolutely mad! The only thing they can do IS recognize that a right is there. As it has been before it was recognized.

Con says rights are NOT like scientific law. When in fact they are. One has the freedom (right), by his/her own will, to use vocal cords to create speech. This has nothing to do with a government. It is the same as a dog being capable of barking, walking (freedom to travel), etc etc. So SCIENTIFICALLY because a human has the ability to speak, grow food, live, breathe, he/she has these rights (worldwide). That is why I made the claim "they just are", even though it sounded bad, can we see how the fact that we can make noise with our throats, use a tool to break ground and plant seeds, etc, these "rights" don't come from any government, they simply just are due to our natural ability to do things. When a government says you have a "right", lets not be so simple minded, as they are really saying "you have the privilege". Freedom of the press.. This summer alone, the media has been barred from the Jade Helm operations, as well as the Bohemian grove. So that, in all reality, is a privilege. One government says we all can go to school. Its a right!! However in some countries in the middle east, women are barred from getting an education. Again, another privilege. So is it logical to say, "American humans have rights, but Iraqi women don't because their government said so."? Absolutely not! This is such an irrational thought process I was laughing while writing it.
Things like education and health care are not a right (regardless of what a group of individuals write on a parchment and "declare" it to be with their "mighty" authority), simply because in order for something to be a right, everyone must be able to do it ("HUMAN" not just American) at the same time (speak, breathe sleep) This is why I don't need to address all of the so-called "rights" my opponent laid out. If one group of people say (U.N.) "we think these are rights all humans have", and another group of individuals (ex: a group that believes in sharia LAW) says "No way women cant vote, the cant have education.", Which arbitrary group of laws created by man should we adhere to? This is the logical conclusion. Man cannot make rights. Man can make privileges that he can take away or not whenever he pleases as he will use force to do it (this, using logic and reason, does not make him legitimate). Man CAN recognize a right that has been here. It is the same as gravity. Man did not create gravity. Man recognized gravity, then called it gravity, the word "gravity" being a concept.

My opponent has been a challenge! I hope to keep in touch with him! Thank you everyone!


In the last round, my opponent articulated at least a partial theory of rights, based on the idea that rights are grounded in the physical ability of people to perform actions - these actions are then "rights," like the "rights" to speak, walk, grow food, etc. that my opponent identifies. But there are several immediately obvious problems with this theory of "rights":

-First, one cannot coherently derive from this theory the primary "right" relied on by Pro throughout this discussion - the right to be free from coercion. Some people are physically capable of physically coercing others - why is it not their "right" to do so? Now, my opponent might appeal to universality in order to negate this point - that not *everyone* is capable of such domination, and therefore the ability of some to coerce others is not a "right." I would point out that not everyone is physically capable of speech, or of walking, or of growing food - do the mute, the wheelchair-bound, or the physically weak negate the rights my opponent listed? If not, is it simply because the *majority* of people are able to exercise these rights? If so, then we are back to simple majoritarianism, which my opponent rejects.

-Second, how does a theory of rights based on physical capability reject a right to education or healthcare? People are capable of learning. People are capable of healing. How are these not then rights?

-Third - and this is merely a side-point for my opponent's consideration, since it does not directly respond to any specific argument above - how does one derive a right to property merely from physical capability? If people are physically capable of growing food on the same land, how does this justify one person fencing it off and appropriating what had been used in common?

-Finally, even if we accept the non-coercion principle as a second theoretical axiom, there are plenty of awful things we can do to each other without coercion. Do people have a natural right to masturbate in front of children just because they are physically capable? If you say yes for the sake of consistency, then I must reject your theory of rights as incapable of recognizing what I suspect is nearly universally a morally revolting notion.

I suspect my opponent is incapable of articulating a coherent theory of rights because his primary interest is in developing a philosophical fig-leaf for a radical anti-government ideology. But my opponent's rejection of law as a source of rights - and therefore of Rule of Law as a positive force in human history - is deeply misguided.

My opponent abhors force and coercion, but doesn't seem to realize that these are, to all available evidence, an inherent part of the human condition. Without a government in place, the human condition resembles Hobbes' state of nature, or perhaps present-day Somalia - the war of all against all, with life nasty, brutish and short. Governments - even many repressive ones - are generally an improvement on this situation. Even better are those governments in which leaders are constrained by a public set of rules (laws), and even better still are those in which citizens have a say in what those rules are. I reject my opponent's argument that government lacks authority except through force - government (and even more so, constitutional, rights-based government), is a restriction on force. Compared to my opponent's never-tested theory which rejects Rule of Law as a premise, I can point to the successes of democracies around the world in advancing human rights, even as those records are not perfect. I'll take the real-world evidence of Rule of Law any day. People aren't under "illusions" about the source of governmental authority - they simply rationally prefer a regulated monopoly on force to an unregulated, entrepreneurial model of violence.

So, to the last point, which is again whether education and healthcare can be recognized as rights. My opponent correctly notes that these rights are routinely denied by nations around the world - and the crisis of women being restricted from education is particularly pointed. He also asks a fairly profound question - "Which arbitrary group of laws created by man should we adhere to?" It's a great question, but my opponent is apparently blind to the fact that his idiosyncratic philosophy of voluntaryism is just as arbitrary and man-made as any other.

But recognizing a concept as man-made, or even arbitrary, does not limit its usefulness - just like the days of the week are arbitrary, man-made, and useful by common assent.

I do agree that rights, as defined by law, are man-made. So what? They have greatly increased the measure of human flourishing in the world. Show me a better system - and more to the point, demonstrate a way to leverage power in favor of human development superior to legal rights - and sure, let's go with that. But my opponent has failed to do so. I don't agree that rights are arbitrary. They've been developed over centuries, through institutions designed to maximize democratic legitimacy, to further the goals of human freedom. That some nations violate these rights is no reason to throw them out the window. Rather, that serves as an incentive to strengthen rights through governmental and international institutions, so that when rights are violated, the violators can be held to account.

Thus, I stand resolved that education and healthcare are rights, for the reasons stated in the first two rounds. My opponent has failed to provide a credible rebuttal as to why the international recognition of these rights should be rejected.

I thank my opponent for this debate, and would be happy to debate him in the future.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by CASmnl42 1 year ago
I truly appreciate your taking the time to vote and for a thorough RFD. Thanks, Death23
Posted by Death23 1 year ago
RFD here:
Posted by Mike_10-4 1 year ago
The only rights we have are Unalienable Rights. "The Science of Rights"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Death23 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: This vote is preliminary. As there are only 20 minutes left to vote, I do not have time to draft the RFD. An RFD for this vote will be posted in the comments section later today ( 7-31-15 ). If I change my mind before completing the RFD, then I will PM a moderator to delete my vote.