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Delegation of Rights

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In the Objectivist corpus and elsewhere, there are a number of variations of the statement that under a proper government the people delegate their right to self-defense, excepting immediate response to present threat, to the government. I've given that some thought over time, and I have an idea I would like to discuss.

The impetus for posting at this time was a recent HBL post by Harry Binswanger, entitled "What's Wrong with the 'Social Contract' Theory." in the post, Dr. Binswanger states that the individual cannot give up his rights even voluntarily, that such is the meaning of "inalienable." He also states that government is the "agent" of the right of self-defense, and he restates the delegation principle above.

My idea is this: If it is impossible to surrender one's rights, would it be more accurate to say that the individual does not delegate his right of self-defense, but retains that right and instead delegates its implementation to the government? Or is that a distinction that makes no difference?

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In the Objectivist corpus and elsewhere, there are a number of variations of the statement that under a proper government the people delegate their right to self-defense, excepting immediate response to present threat, to the government. I've given that some thought over time, and I have an idea I would like to discuss.

The impetus for posting at this time was a recent HBL post by Harry Binswanger, entitled "What's Wrong with the 'Social Contract' Theory." in the post, Dr. Binswanger states that the individual cannot give up his rights even voluntarily, that such is the meaning of "inalienable." He also states that government is the "agent" of the right of self-defense, and he restates the delegation principle above.

My idea is this: If it is impossible to surrender one's rights, would it be more accurate to say that the individual does not delegate his right of self-defense, but retains that right and instead delegates its implementation to the government? Or is that a distinction that makes no difference?

I'm not sure of the difference. A right is an action, so delegating a right means delegating an action, i.e., the implementation: the execution of an idea or plan.

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I'm not sure of the difference. A right is an action, so delegating a right means delegating an action, i.e., the implementation: the execution of an idea or plan.
A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. (source)

A right is a principle, the exercise of a right is an action. One can take actions that are "defined and sanctioned" by a right, but a right itself is not an action. Also, one has rights which exist whether or not one ever performs any action based on them. For example, I have the right to defend myself against immediate danger, but I have yet to do so because the need has never arisen. Nonetheless the right exists.

My thought is, then, that individuals authorize the government to take certain actions sanctioned by the individuals' right of self-defense, e.g. obtaining restitution. But the right itself is never handed over - government can have no rights, neither as a result of its nature, nor arrogated to it, nor surrendered to it (the last re: Dr. Binswanger's statement that rights cannot even voluntarily be given up).

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I'm not sure of the difference. A right is an action, so delegating a right means delegating an action, i.e., the implementation: the execution of an idea or plan.
A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. (source)

A right is a principle, the exercise of a right is an action. One can take actions that are "defined and sanctioned" by a right, but a right itself is not an action. Also, one has rights which exist whether or not one ever performs any action based on them. For example, I have the right to defend myself against immediate danger, but I have yet to do so because the need has never arisen. Nonetheless the right exists.

My thought is, then, that individuals authorize the government to take certain actions sanctioned by the individuals' right of self-defense, e.g. obtaining restitution. But the right itself is never handed over - government can have no rights, neither as a result of its nature, nor arrogated to it, nor surrendered to it (the last re: Dr. Binswanger's statement that rights cannot even voluntarily be given up).

I agree. Rights can be delegated in many areas. People give attorney's the right to represent them in court; people give others the "power of attorney"; etc.

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The impetus for posting at this time was a recent HBL post by Harry Binswanger, entitled "What's Wrong with the 'Social Contract' Theory." in the post, Dr. Binswanger states that the individual cannot give up his rights even voluntarily, that such is the meaning of "inalienable." He also states that government is the "agent" of the right of self-defense, and he restates the delegation principle above.

My idea is this: If it is impossible to surrender one's rights, would it be more accurate to say that the individual does not delegate his right of self-defense, but retains that right and instead delegates its implementation to the government? Or is that a distinction that makes no difference?

Delegation is not surrender. You have rights by your nature. The morality of your freedom of action cannot be negated -- by you or anyone else -- any more than the law of gravity. Delegation means you permit someone else to act as your agent. You don't have to restate that delegation of a right pertains to implementation because it is inherent in the meanings of 'right' and 'delegate'. On the other hand, you can't specify too much with "social contract" apologists running around with no knowledge of what rights are, but then focusing only on delegation of a right as pertaining to implementation isn't enough.

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A robber comes into your house.

Delegation: you shoot him dead because the cops won't come fast enough and he's pointing a large knife at you and coming in fast.

Surrender: you traded in your home gun because "only the State should enforce defense", he guts you and runs with your valuables. When the police arrives they say you're the tenth victim that month.

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I forgot to add: Europe: you shot him in the leg (otherwise you might have been accused of murder). He sues you, gets your house, several million USD, you go to jail for 15 years for attempted murder, he gives interviews on TV and newspapers on how he is a victim of society, he becomes a star.

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The distinction I make is between defensive and retaliatory force, where individuals have the right to use the former but only government can use the latter. I don't see why it has to be framed in terms of retaliatory force only, with an exception granted to individuals for "emergencies".

I can think of three fundamental categories of force: initiatory, defensive and retaliatory. A fourth, preemptive, could be placed under retaliatory as a subcategory. The first should properly be a crime regardless of perpetrator. The second is immediate protection from force, whether used by an individual or the state. The third and fourth are properly government actions against criminals (as defined by a rational set of laws) or enemies during war.

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Oh and rtg24 isn't kidding: just like the healthcare advice for a resident of the third world is "don't get sick", so the self-defense advice offered to us Europeans, implicitly, is "don't get attacked". There are Mexican diseases that make you less sick to your stomach than Europe's, particularly the Northern states' love of the guilty.

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The impetus for posting at this time was a recent HBL post by Harry Binswanger, entitled "What's Wrong with the 'Social Contract' Theory." in the post, Dr. Binswanger states that the individual cannot give up his rights even voluntarily, that such is the meaning of "inalienable." He also states that government is the "agent" of the right of self-defense, and he restates the delegation principle above.

My idea is this: If it is impossible to surrender one's rights, would it be more accurate to say that the individual does not delegate his right of self-defense, but retains that right and instead delegates its implementation to the government? Or is that a distinction that makes no difference?

Delegation is not surrender. You have rights by your nature. The morality of your freedom of action cannot be negated -- by you or anyone else -- any more than the law of gravity. Delegation means you permit someone else to act as your agent. You don't have to restate that delegation of a right pertains to implementation because it is inherent in the meanings of 'right' and 'delegate'. On the other hand, you can't specify too much with "social contract" apologists running around with no knowledge of what rights are, but then focusing only on delegation of a right as pertaining to implementation isn't enough.

One does not surrender one's rights but one does surrender one's ability to implement the protection of one's rights when issues of physical force are involved. It is not just an issue of granting permission. A government sets up a trial according to objective standards (in principle). Once such a system is established, one cannot disagree with the method of implementation and then go out by oneself, select 12 strangers to serve on a jury, and begin a trial where a friend is the prosecutor and your neighbor is the judge. Even in cases where there is non-objective law, one cannot step outside the structure established by the government without being threatened by the laws of the government. Delegation means recognition that a government of laws is the means by which one implements one's rights.

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The gist I have so far is this:

  • It is not possible for your rights to be separated from you.
  • "Delegation" here means the same as "delegation of implementation;" the latter is redundant.
  • You have no right to initiate force. (We all knew that, it's here for completeness.)
  • You delegate the use of retaliatory force (arrest, prosecution, punishment, restitution) to the government.
  • You retain the use of defensive force (i.e. against immediate threat).

Without getting into details (e.g. the line between defensive and retaliatory force), is that an accurate summation so far?

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The gist I have so far is this:

  • It is not possible for your rights to be separated from you.
  • "Delegation" here means the same as "delegation of implementation;" the latter is redundant.
  • You have no right to initiate force. (We all knew that, it's here for completeness.)
  • You delegate the use of retaliatory force (arrest, prosecution, punishment, restitution) to the government.
  • You retain the use of defensive force (i.e. against immediate threat).

Without getting into details (e.g. the line between defensive and retaliatory force), is that an accurate summation so far?

I agree.

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I forgot to add: Europe: you shot him in the leg (otherwise you might have been accused of murder). He sues you, gets your house, several million USD, you go to jail for 15 years for attempted murder, he gives interviews on TV and newspapers on how he is a victim of society, he becomes a star.

You left out his book contract and movie rights.

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Please note also that in Britain you do not need to use a gun to go to jail for defending yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munir_Hussain...ctims%27_rights

In both cases the attackers committed serious repeated offenses after being considered the "victim", and in both cases they were career criminals with dozens of prior criminal convictions.

Contrast this with the way it's done in the US:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Horn_shooting_controversy

and of course: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernhard_Goetz

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