The Instigator
mcc1789
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
alexzanderzang
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Rights are Alienable

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
mcc1789
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/10/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,961 times Debate No: 16986
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (33)
Votes (5)

 

mcc1789

Pro

This first round is for acceptance and opening argument. For the purposes of this debate both sides will assume that people have inherent rights to life, liberty and property. I will be arguing they are entirely alienable. My opponent will argue they are inalienable. This means, in the context of the debate, that such rights can be given up voluntarily by the person who holds them, or to repay liabilities they have incurred. The burden of proof is shared. I prefer that my opponent be an anarcho-capitalist/market anarchist. I am playing Devil's Advocate on this.

Definitions:
Alienability http://dictionary.reference.com...

Inalienability http://dictionary.reference.com...

Self-ownership https://secure.wikimedia.org...

Self-sale: The act or process of selling oneself, in whole or in part.

The rights to life, liberty and property and interwoven, each part of the other. No one that holds to such rights says that property cannot be alienated. If they did, no one could sell anything or give it away. Yet as I said, they are interwoven. Each is an aspect of property. Really, these human rights are property rights (1). The right to life is the right to property in your own person and existence, the right to liberty is the right to use of the property in your person and external property. How then can a believer in such rights object to selling yourself? As Walter Block wrote "if I own something, I can sell it (and should be allowed by law to do so). If I can't sell, then, and to that extent, I really don't own it" (2). Is our self-ownership, therefore, so limited? If so, how can we really be said to own ourselves?

Murray Rothbard maintained that a self-sale contract would be unenforceable. His reasoning was that if someone did so, it would be a contradiction in terms, as their will is being "surrendered in advance" (3). In fact, though, our will is "surrendered" thus with any valid contract. For we are making an exchange that binds us in the future-although we may change our mind, the contract cannot then be ended without permission by the other party(ies). We are, therefore, surrendering our will, present to future-later, present to past.

Murray Rothbard expounded on his title-transfer theory of contract (4) in the same chapter, so while a mere promise to sell or give oneself to another is non-binding, with consideration it would bind them. Self-sale contracts could take the form of a performance bond (which Rothbard also supported in this chapter). For instance: A agrees to life-long labor for B, with payment of $1,000,000 (or equivalent), and would have to pay it back if they violated this (which is close to an example Walter Block uses) (2). Or, it may be a gift: A agrees to give their person to B. Compensation might be food, shelter and health care as necessary or money payment.

It does not have to be for life, but rather a more limited span. Everyone who is employed in fact rents themselves minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years at a time. Now, while labor may be alienated, one could say, a person's body and will cannot be. Except this is plainly something that could be covered in a performance bond as well. In this case performance could be whatever is commanded by the bond holder, to the best of the bonded person's ability.

Self-sale does not have to be total, either. We could easily imagine people selling a kidney, blood or any other part of the body along with those they are allowed to currently. Assuming future technology allows, people could download and sell their memories, thoughts, dreams in whole or part, or even an entire mind. Certainly people do sell their ideas for pay. This also applies to cases in which a person has not signed a self-sale contract but may be unable to make up their debts by payment or forfeiture. A creditor might, then, secure an order for them to repay it by labor, which in some cases would turn out to be for life.

Criminals who have violated others' rights could be compelled to labor as punishment. A thief unable to repay the amount stolen would repay it in labor, for instance. Other classes of crimes, e.g. kidnapping, might carry losing liberty as their punishment anyway. Murder, as well, could result in a sentence of life at hard labor instead of death. In either case the labor of such people could be sold or rented by the owner. We have no reason to doubt there will be a market for this, along with self-sales.

I hope that Con will prove me wrong and if so I'll be glad to lose. That said, the resolution is affirmed.

Footnotes:
1: The Ethics of Liberty, Chapter 15. "Human Rights" as Property Rights, by Murray N. Rothbard, New York University Press, 1998. Originally published: Atlantic Highlands, N.J. : Humanities Press, 1982. ISBN 0-8147-7506-3.
http://mises.org...
2: Toward a Libertarian Theory of Alienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Smith, Kinsella, Gordon and Epstein, by Walter Block, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 17 no. 2 (Spring 2003), pp. 39-85 �2003 Ludwig von Mises Institute www.mises.org
http://mises.org...
3: The Ethics of Liberty, Chapter 19. Property Rights and The Theory of Contracts, ibid. http://mises.org...
4: https://secure.wikimedia.org...
alexzanderzang

Con

I really don't like this topic, but I'll do it anyway.
---------------------------

So basically I'm trying to prove that my rights are inalienable, while you're trying to prove that they are, and you can sell them, right?

I'll let you go first!
Debate Round No. 1
mcc1789

Pro

Thanks for accepting Alex. Good luck on this.

"So basically I'm trying to prove that my rights are inalienable, while you're trying to prove that they are, and you can sell them, right?"

Exactly.

"I'll let you go first!"

I already did. Back to you, Con.
alexzanderzang

Con

I would like to start by saying that someone's rights are useless to anyone else. For example, it would be useless to buy a right. You just end up with 2 of the same rights, after all, you only need one. So why would you want one?

Second, it wouldn't make sense to sell rights. You can't say, "Gimme that car, I'll stop pursuing happiness."
A right isn't anything physical. You can't perceive it in any way. Selling it would make as much sense is selling the color green.

Here's the real proof: It is impossible to sell rights, even if he/she wanted to. For example, a person voluntarily sold her right of speech. If you slap her, I will guarentee you that she will say something like "ouch".

Ok...it's getting late. I gotta go. Good night and good luck! ;)
Debate Round No. 2
mcc1789

Pro

If you read my first round, you'd see what I mean by "rights." The right to property in a car or house is very useful. Such goods are bought and sold constantly. To buy or sell, one must have the right to property in the item exchanged. Our rights are quite tangible, as they relate to real things like these.

"Pursuit of happiness" is a euphemism used for property. So, if your car is sold, you stop "pursuing happiness" in it. The buyer "pursues happiness" by purchasing that. Your analogy to selling the color green does not follow. As I said above, our rights relate to tangible things which can be bought, sold and given away.

"Here's the real proof: It is impossible to sell rights, even if he/she wanted to. For example, a person voluntarily sold her right of speech. If you slap her, I will guarentee you that she will say something like "ouch"."

The right, in such a case, would be over control of her body, speech specifically. If the woman sold her right to speech, she would have given up the right to speak except at the permission of the owner. Assuming she continued to speak anyway, it would be within the owner's power to insure silence by, for instance, severing her vocal cords. The right she gave up is clear: that of control over her speech, even to such a drastic length. I certainly do not recommend it.

I don't think you understand my formulation, so please go read my first round over carefully. Sleep well, I look forward to new arguments.
alexzanderzang

Con

Here's a problem with selling a right or giving up one as punishment: it doesn't exist. Like I said before, it has no value. It's not time, or the fruit of your labor. Rights are an idea. There will be no guarentee that you "have" the other person's right. Then again, you can argue that money is also idea, and it doesn't exist. However, it represents something, for example, gold, which has value. But rights also represents something. (Sorry if I was a little contradictory)It represents the person, who they are, andwhat they choose to do. If you own someone's rights, then that person cannot do thingsfreely and doesn't have a choice, which means that he/she is not theirown person anymore. He/she is a part of the owner, and therefore represents the owner, andtheir owner will have to pay for the consequences ofanything that he/she does, after all, whatever they do is ordered by their owner.

Now we're getting into slavery. According toDictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com...) a slave is "aperson who is theproperty of and wholly subject to another; a bond servant."The owner owns a few ofhis/her rights,so he/sheconsidered a partial slave. (It's outlawed, I think...)


Well, happy voting!
Debate Round No. 3
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Didn't seem to understand the argument.
That happens, though.
Posted by samiam96 5 years ago
samiam96
one point, yes yes you did. Don't accept a topic you dont like!
Posted by mcc1789 5 years ago
mcc1789
Those who commented: I am definitely re-posting this. And thank you for your votes.
Posted by alexzanderzang 5 years ago
alexzanderzang
Wow, I only get 1 point!?!
Posted by mcc1789 5 years ago
mcc1789
Yes, they most certainly can.
Posted by sadolite 5 years ago
sadolite
Agreed again then. I have this discussion about evrey two months with someone who will say the proverbial "They can't do that"
Posted by mcc1789 5 years ago
mcc1789
I agree sadolite. The system we have is designed to give a privileged few enormous power and wealth. Hence my opposition to it and call for a better one. I have no trust in our existing law or "justice." No, like you I know it too well. I have too much knowledge of the law to feel differently (I'm a paralegal).
Your comments get no disagreement from me. The libertarian common law and natural justice is what I'm talking about. It has nothing to do with our legal system-in fact they are really archenemies.
Posted by sadolite 5 years ago
sadolite
There is nothing more powerful than money and power combined. If someone with enough money and power wants you dead you will be dead. There is no system or court in the world that will ever stop them. You need to get back to the core argument and the average Joe. The only right that the average Joe will ever have and not be trampled upon is the right to legal council. Unless someone with money and power doesn't want you to have it or wants you killed. This kind of stuff happens everyday 24 hrs a day.
If you get to close you will die.
Your trust in law and justice is quite laughable. You are nothing but a case number and excuse for a bunch of ivy league educated word twisters to bring importance to their life. Trust me on this, I spent a better part of my 20's in and out of court rooms. You are just a paycheck, you are a number, next case your Honor.
Any recognition anyone gets in a court room is because there is money and power involved. High profile cases are determined before the trial even begins. It's just a dog and pony show for the masses to think justice is being served.
Posted by mcc1789 5 years ago
mcc1789
Why do you assume there would be no courts of law to protect your rights from violations? I do not deny the dangers of corruption and tyranny, just the opposite. That's exactly why a system which does not enable them is necessary.
Posted by sadolite 5 years ago
sadolite
mcc1789 LOL ' I like how you are trying to debate as if there were some court of law that would intervine and stop someone with money and power from trampling or selling or eliminating your rights. The people who do this kind of thing are the very people who you would go to to seek protection from. Corruption has no laws and it has no rights just tyranny.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
mcc1789alexzanderzangTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had several good arguments arguments while Con had nothing to refute them.
Vote Placed by LaissezFaire 5 years ago
LaissezFaire
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Reasons for voting decision: Obvious. Con didn't even seem to understand what the debate was about, much less make good arguments.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Well presented argument from Pro, nice to see a new member take on a challenging debate however this was completely lopsided. Pro you should reissue this debate. 5:1 Pro
Vote Placed by FREEDO 5 years ago
FREEDO
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: This was sad. Pro should restart this debate. He makes such brilliant points.
Vote Placed by Grape 5 years ago
Grape
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Reasons for voting decision: Obvious...