What Are “positive Rights”?

I’ve been asked to comment on this topic.   I don’t think I can add much to what has been said here. But I will try to add some precision:

A right is a thing that all people can grant to each other. Otherwise the term has no meaning.  We cannot grant each other positives. We lack the resources to grant resources to others.  We can however, equally forgo opportunities for satisfying our self interest.  In effect, we can all suffer deprivations of opportunity even if we cannot suffer the transfer of resources (money).

But for clarity: We cannot make laws either.  Laws emerge.  We can only issue orders.  We grant orders legitimacy by calling them analogies to laws. Legislatures issue orders.  Laws emerge from observation of human actions. We cannot make laws, only recognize them.

Likewise, we cannot make positive rights.  We can only make redistributive commitments – forcible transfer from one group to another.  We grant these goals legitimacy by calling them analogies to rights.

But neither commands nor redistributions are what they claim to be by analogy.  They are what they are, and can be nothing else: commands and thefts.

The rest is just gilding a sin in flowery language.


Leave a Reply