A Quick Philosophical Point on Rights

Something resonated oddly for me, the other day, and it occurred to me that there’s an important philosophical point to be made in response:

“What we can be proud of in Europe is the ground rules, that everyone has the right to health care,” said Jose Martin-Moreno, a health expert at the University of Valencia in Spain. “But the implementation has been difficult and one size does not fit all.”

We’ve gotten a bit too free, in the West, with the “rights” language over the past few decades, to the point that it’s easy to slide within the same word choices from nice privileges that we’d like to provide in an ideal world to irreducible allowances that governments simply cannot take away. That’s truly a detriment to language and a loss to social discourse.
So plainly put: Is there a right to healthcare? Well, compare it with other rights:

  • With the right to free speech, we have a right to speak, but not to be heard.
  • With the right to bear arms, we have a right to own and operate guns, but not to be given guns for free.

In these terms, we would have the right to procure healthcare, but not to have it provided to us, to an extent of our own or somebody else’s determination.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

You are correct in your careful distinction between so-called positive rights and negative rights. The former are violently coerced (all government action is backed by violence) redistributions of wealth between private citizens, which are really no rights at all. The latter are prohibitions on government and constitute legitimate rights.
Saying, “I have a right to healthcare” is just a nice way of saying “I have the right to use violence against you and your family to take your private property to pay for my healthcare.”

11 years ago

I know a lot of people, Left, Right and Middle. I don’t know anyone, I have never even met anyone who has said, written, or otherwise indicated that they have a right to use violence against someone or someone’s family to take private property to pay for their health care. Please tell us who said it. Do you have any names, or are you full of horse feathers and just ranting nonsense. Give us a name or two and you might be taken seriously. Otherwise, as we used to say in my old neighborhood, “Put up or shut up.”

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.