Against Authority page 27
index
previous
next page

Listen Egoist!

Listen egoist, moral skeptic, and others who consider natural law to be "nonsense on stilts" or "spooks in the mind." You don't need spooks or morality to make sense of rights language. I want to convince you of this. I will not try to attempt to change your view of natural rights. My modest aim is to convince you that language using rights jargon can be translated into egoist and even amoral terms, and still make sense.

Instead of considering "rights" as an arbitrary postulate or brain-spook, I suggest that one can interpret the term in other ways.

Contractarianism

Maybe when people interact, there is an implicit contract made. Perhaps when people join together in society, they are in effect making promises like:
  • If you don't kill me, I won't kill you.
  • If you don't steal my stuff, I won't steal your stuff.
  • If you keep your business promises, I'll keep mine.
There are many reasons why such "contracts" are reasonable. It's individually rational for most people; it's a Schelling point; it's the best strategy for Prisoners Dilemma games. We'll get into some of these rationales later. The point is: we can call these "rights."

Why does someone want to enter society instead of living as a hermit in the boondocks? To benefit from social interaction, in oh so many ways. It would certainly be reasonable to at very least profess to abide by such rules when in society, if you wish people to deal with you.

In a way, modern contractarianism presents a hypothetical person entering society with a choice of if only everyone rule-sets. Would you agree to moral/social/legal principle X if most/all other people did?

Against Authority page 27
index
previous
next page