Re: Letter to the Editor

Jeffrey Lee (
Mon, 8 Jun 98 13:34:55 -0700

On 6/8/98 10:00, Ed Brayton said:

>Jeffrey Lee wrote:
>> On 6/5/98 20:05, Ed Brayton said:
>> >This is stunning even for an apologist for
>> >government control like Bork. This is the one that my 4th grade son was
>> >able to poke a hole in. Even he was able to grasp the obvious difference
>> >between these two "rights" to be "indulged" - one was the right to
>> >determine one's own actions, and the other was the right to control
>> >someone else's actions. These two are clearly not equal, not even to a
>> >ten year old.
>> I haven't read any of Mr. Bork's works, nor do I have much of an opinion
>> about him one way or the other, but I have to challenge your last
>> statement. The inequality of the two rights you propose is predicated on
>> a self-determination world view. That the rights of any individual
>> outweigh the rights of the society in which they live.
>Actually, this is not the case. Bork did not say a word about the
>"rights of the society" as a whole. He juxtaposed one person wanting to
>do something, and another person wanting to stop them from doing it. He
>even goes so far as to say that the second person based their desire to
>stop the action only on the fact that they are morally bothered by it.
>No one is going to argue that self-determination is absolute, or that
>any action is allowed no matter how much damage it causes to others or
>to society, but in the remarkably simply dichotomy he draws up, can
>anyone argue that the two "rights" are equal in nature? In Bork's
>formulation, the second person wishes to stop the first person from
>acting as they see fit, not because he is harmed by it, but because he
>disapproves of the choice. This clearly flies in the face of the
>principles behind our constitution and the bill of rights, which is the
>subject upon which Bork is allegedly basing his decision. Thank god he
>didn't make it on the court.

But then society as a whole is nothing but a group of others. So,
without reading the journal article (I'd be interested in reading it,
actually, do you have a full citation - web searching is proving
fruitless), I'd say that he is formulating an argument on the basis that
an other has some right - inherent or merely agreed upon - to affect the
behavior of another. The right could be conferred by the "other" being a
society, or by the "other" being a parent, or a spouse, or whatever other
relationships confer rights in the society in question. It sounds like
he's arguing that where both sets of rights have been established, then
the decision becomes one of whose rights should take precedence. You
would argue, I take it, that the rights of the individual are paramount.
However, there is nothing axiomatic about that. Right?

><-- @
>><Jeffrey Lee: @@ \
>>><Quality Systems Development @@@ \
>>>><Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. @@@@ \
>>>>>< @@@@@___________\

>>Standard Disclaimers Apply: My views are my own unless they're not.