Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Self-evident Truths and Inalienable Rights

In everyday experience, we encounter people and things. How do we encounter them immediately? How do they manifest themselves as things and people? My view is that an encounter is either a sign of the truth about something (and then it is precisely a "thing") or a sign of someone's rights (which makes him or her a "person").

Now this only works if, in the immediate experience of the thing, some truths are self-evident and, in the immediate experience of the person, some rights are inalienable. I want to define "honesty" as the recognition of the self-evident truth of a thing and "decency" as a respect for a person's inalienable rights.

Something interesting: if are not honest about a thing, i.e., if we don't recognize its self-evident truth, then we are actually turning the encounter into a "personal" one. Likewise, if we don't respect a person's inalienable rights, we are "reifying" the encounter, turning him or her into a thing.

A thing has no rights (it has truths). There are no truths about people (they have rights).

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