Talk:Natural and legal rights

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Debate section[edit]

In unrelated matters, it strikes me that the Debate section which grew here since I last paid close attention to this article could stand to be integrated into the surrounding sections, "Natural rights theories" above or "History" below, as those all discuss the debates surrounding them already. --Pfhorrest (talk) 07:00, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Uncontroversial?[edit]

I have been beaten into submission regarding the duality of this article, so I've decided to try to make the article better. RJC reverted my removal of the POV wording claiming the existence legal rights always being uncontroversial. I haven't persuaded editors here of much, but Pfhorrest agreed the wording should probably go. In the revert RJC said "The sense of these edits is contrary to the sense expressed by the majority of editors on the talk page." That is a POV, not a statement in support of whether a clearly POV statement should be in the article. Those two statements present legal rights as accepted fact and natural rights as a controversial theory, at best. I did not flip the article in the opposite POV, I simply removed weasel wording. My edit should be restored. Eodcarl (talk) 15:39, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on legal rights has a number of questions that have to be addressed—the existence of legal rights is not one of them. That was the first hit for a Google search for there are no legal rights. I can't find anything else that would suggest that any scholar doubts the existence of legal rights. I think it is fair to say that their existence was generally taken as obvious and that it was the existence of natural rights that had to be established. I'm going to ask for a scholarly source saying that there are no legal rights, one that does not run afoul of WP:FRINGE, before concluding that there is a real debate here such that WP:NPOV would militate against the current phrasing. RJC TalkContribs 18:27, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I had just read that article. It is one point of view. I'm not sure why you can't find anything else that disputes legal rights; it is all over this very article, articulated by the premier natural rights philosophers, Hobbes, Locke, and Paine.
Examples:
1) Hobbes: In his natural state, according to Hobbes, man's life consisted entirely of liberties and not at all of laws;
2) Locke: The social contract is an agreement between members of a country to live within a shared system of laws. Specific forms of government are the result of the decisions made by these persons acting in their collective capacity. Government is instituted to make laws that protect these three natural rights.
3) Thomas Paine (1731–1809) further elaborated on natural rights in his influential work Rights of Man (1791), emphasizing that rights cannot be granted by any charter because this would legally imply they can also be revoked and under such circumstances they would be reduced to privileges.
Unless someone were to contend these three philosophers and their ideas were long ago relegated to the trash bin of history, the existence of legal rights is in enough dispute to be considered at least moderately controversial. To say otherwise is to say I am all alone in the belief governments cannot grant rights, which is what legal rights would be. If a reader comes to this article for the first time, and read its from beginning to end, one will learn that Hobbes, Locke, and Paine all believed in natural rights and the social contract to protect them, but that the resulting government doesn't grant rights, but protects them. Then, they get further down in the article and are faced with a statement that roughly says what those philosophers are wrong, but that is uncontroversial.
The next thing I'd ask you to consider is what is the purpose of deliberately stating something is not controversial? The whole point of this article, as it has been explained to me, is to pair competing philosophies, and low and behold, there is even a section called Debate. I won't accuse someone of including that language to shut off discussion, but either way, it smacks of weasel wording. There are clearly those who believe there are no natural rights, and there are those who believe rights cannot be granted by one, the few, or the collective (legal rights). That is controversy, and the article should merely describe the competing philosophies, and how some reconcile both. Eodcarl (talk) 19:18, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Dear Eodcarl: None of the material you quoted says that these philosophers denied the existence of LEGAL rights, if that's what you're driving at. Please re-read the material. Famspear (talk) 20:38, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Actually, all three do, and the Paine passage quite deliberately states it: "rights cannot be granted by any charter because this would legally imply they can also be revoked and under such circumstances they would be reduced to privileges." Perhaps you can tell how much more blatantly it has to be stated, then perhaps we can come to some mutual understanding. I have provided plenty showing there is disagreement. Beyond that, the weasel language of deliberately stating something is uncontroversial with no added value to the article should go even if there was consensus of it being uncontroversial. Eodcarl (talk) 21:06, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Just as I thought: You're misreading. The phrase "rights cannot be granted" is a reference to NATURAL rights, not legal rights. You're "reading in" the phrase "legal rights," but the phrase you should be reading in is "natural rights." Famspear (talk) 21:22, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Eodcarl: Go back to the basic concepts. What these philosophers were saying was that NATURAL rights are God-given -- that such rights cannot be "given" by government. What these philosophers were NOT saying (at least in the material you're presenting) was that LEGAL rights are God-given. Famspear (talk) 21:26, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
That is not my understanding natural rights or the philosophies of Hobbes, Locke, and Paine. Natural rights are not necessarily dependent on God; the proposition is that we have inalienable rights as a simple matter of existence, OR granted by God. Adherents of the belief in the existence of natural rights need not agree on one of two sources; They need only agree natural rights exist and they cannot be taken away. It is a huge stretch to equate rights being granted by God to rights being granted by government. Do you disagree with this definition of legal rights from the article?: "legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system." That is exactly what Thomas Paine says does not exist in the passage I have quoted twice. The fact that we're have a disagreement about it is proof it is controversial. I agree with Tom Paine. Eodcarl (talk) 21:47, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
No, you agree with your own interpretation of what Paine wrote. What you need to do is to find a place where Paine (or some other reliable source) argued that legal rights do not exist. Famspear (talk) 21:52, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
PS: Whether based on "God" or "nature" or whatever, the point is that the philosophers generally argued that natural rights were not something granted by government, and were not something that could be taken away. By contrast, I have seen nothing in the material that you cited where Paine (or anyone else) supposedly argued that LEGAL rights do not exist.
Yes, legal rights, generally speaking, are rights granted through a legal system, through a governmental system.
Yes, it is a huge stretch to equate rights being granted by God (natural rights) to rights being granted by government (legal rights). You're having a problem understanding what Paine wrote. You're assuming that in the passage I quoted, he was talking about one kind of right when he was talking about the other. Famspear (talk) 21:59, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Since you're the expert, knowing what he actually meant, what does this mean?: "It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter gives rights." If you're suggesting I find a quote of one of them using a term not yet coined in their day, you got me, I can't do that. Apparently it is your contention that Paine was saying a core set of natural rights can't be granted by government, though he clearly did not caveat, merely saying rights. Eodcarl (talk) 22:14, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Dear Eodcarl: What he means is: "It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter [such as a statute or other man-made law] gives NATURAL rights."
You're misreading it as: "It is a perversion of terms to say that a charter [such as a statute or other man-made law] gives LEGAL rights." That's not what he's saying. Famspear (talk) 22:24, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I guess since you can put extra words in Thomas Paine's mouth, we are at an impasse. Perhaps Pfhorrest will opine. Eodcarl (talk) 22:31, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I think there is an impasse here. Paine's remarks plainly say what Famspear says they do. On my talk page you also doubted that there were reliable sources that suggest that natural rights have been criticized for falling prey to the naturalistic fallacy. It is clear that you want the article to reflect The Truth. I do not think that it can do so without violating WP:NPOV, which requires that we present mainstream scholarly disputes honestly without taking sides. RJC TalkContribs 22:40, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
RJC, you are not representing accurately what I said about why I removed that passage. I was just cleaning up the article of a passage with a five year old call for a citation, which is the reason I stated when I removed it and on your talk page. I have no opinion on the passage one way or the other. I'm not sure what you mean by "The Truth." I agree in the article we should take sides, which is exactly why the "has always been uncontroversial" bit should go. I disagree with your assessment of what Paine had to say, further evidenced by this passage from the Rights of Man, Part 4: "Every generation is equal in rights to generations which preceded it, by the same rule that every individual is born equal in rights with his contemporary." If he supposedly believed in legal rights, how do reconcile that with this quote? If everyone has had the same rights throughout time and among contemporaries around the world, how can government grant rights to some, but not to those who live elsewhere, and not to those who came before? Eodcarl (talk) 23:01, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Dear Eodcarl: No, you're interpreting Paine one way, by adding a certain word -- the word "legal." I'm pointing out that you're wrong. I'm pointing out that when Paine uses the term "rights" in that passage, he is referring to NATURAL rights, not LEGAL rights. Your interpretation makes no sense. Mine makes perfect sense. Again, go back to the definition of a natural right. That's exactly what Paine is talking about -- natural rights. Famspear (talk) 22:46, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

I found another passage from The Rights of Man that indicates a couple of things. First, Paine does not speak of rights in the generic and mean natural rights. This is the most important part because it completely invalidates Famspears contention that Paine means natural rights when he simply says rights above. I have proven Paine does not fail to caveat when appropriate, so it can be inferred that when he says only rights, he means all rights. Second, he nowhere acknowledges a power of government to grant rights of any kind.

"Hitherto we have spoken only (and that but in part) of the natural rights of man. We have now to consider the civil rights of man, and to show how the one originates from the other. Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, nor to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured. His natural rights are the foundation of all his civil rights. But in order to pursue this distinction with more precision, it will be necessary to mark the different qualities of natural and civil rights.
A few words will explain this. Natural rights are those which appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also all those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others. Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection." http://www.ushistory.org/PAINE/rights/c1-013.htm

Paine does introduce the concept of civil rights; some might erroneously claim he means it to be synonymous with legal rights but that is quickly debunked by reading Paine's explanation. Civil rights derive directly from natural rights for purposes of living in society, and they are not granted by government. By the description, the right to keep and bear arms would be a good example of a civil right as described by Paine. Equivocate away. Eodcarl (talk) 00:43, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

It would still be a civil right, the natural right (or human right, or unalienable right) at the root of that civil right is the 'right to defend you self.' Civil rights are derived from membership in a civil society (aka legal rights - change nationality and your civil rights change), human rights (aka natural rights aka unalienable rights) are derived from being human, and private rights are derived from membership in a private organization or the working of private contracts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by ChristopherTheodore (talkcontribs) 03:21, 10 November 2013 (UTC)


I'm trying to enjoy my holiday weekend and not get bogged down in this all the time, but a brief comment: I believe Paine's passage in question is meant, in what I think is the spirit of Eodcarl's point, to denigrate the normative validity of supposed rights supposedly granted by law: to say that the law does not have the power to actually create or remove something which is legitimately a right; in short, to say that non-natural, merely legal rights are "not real rights" in a sense. That is different from saying that the law does not declare such-and-such to be a right. This is I think the important matter in the dispute here: the difference between "legal rights exist" as meaning "there are laws which declare some things to be rights", and "legal rights exist" as meaning "there are laws which create genuine inviolable normative claims/obligations/etc". The article (attempts to) speak of "legal rights" in the former sense, and in that sense there is no controversy: there are laws which declare some things to be rights, without question. In the latter sense there is plenty of controversy: sure there are laws making such declarations, but what normative weight do they carry? We could perhaps do well to clarify the different senses meant in the article to avoid people like Eodcarl thinking things are being said that aren't meant. --Pfhorrest (talk) 00:43, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

It seems the way to do that is to remove the gratuitous "this has long not been controversial" business. Does it serve a valid purpose in the article? Considering whether or not one believes Paine said otherwise, there are plenty of people who believe something the government can give and take away is not a right, but a privilege. That does not preclude describing both and including points of debate and criticism. With the current "uncontroversial" statement without citation, the article says to a reader it is a point not up for debate. It currently expresses a POV. Eodcarl (talk) 00:54, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
My two cents: if there is argument among editors about what Paine actually meant, then perhaps we should focus on what mainstream reliable sources say about Paine's views on this particular subject. I don't think that any philosopher has ever denied the existence of legal rights in a society that has legal institutions. (And I'm willing to bet that any philosopher whose views on the subject have been preserved came from a society that has legal institutions. It's kind of silly to imagine an illiterate savage in some "state of nature" discoursing on the non-existence of legal rights. Hobbes's views on the non-existence of legal rights in a state of nature were influenced by his living through the English Civil War, when legal institutions broke down temporarily, throwing civilized men into a virtual state of nature with no legal protection. But Hobbes never stated as a general principle that legal rights don't exist.)Other Choices (talk) 04:55, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Other, no one has commented at all on the most recent passage from The Rights of Man I posted. Pfhorrest was not responding to it; there was an edit conflict as we were trying to post at the same time. The passage is pretty cut and dry regarding Paine's stance, in addition it refutes the earlier claims made by others about what he "meant to say." You also said legal philosophers would not deny legal rights in a society with legal institutions; that does not follow logically or historically. The three philosophers of note all wrote in a time when no government on earth even acknowledged the rights of the individual at all, and those governments only infringed rights. Why would they deny something that was not even part of their paradigm? You suggest with the "savage" comment that the distinction is between government and no government, or even that I'm saying government with the consent of the governed can't bestow privileges. I am not saying that at all.
I am saying:
1)Paine, and others, did advocate government with the consent of the government, WITH legal protection of existing rights. They all recognized individual rights were not worth much without a means to defend them, which led to the civil rights Paine mentions, being those rights associated with living in society, but derive directly from natural rights; even the civil rights are not granted; they are only protected by rule of law.
2) There is controversy surrounding the term legal rights, or at least the concept it describes being labeled a right vs. a privilege (and Paine says exactly that, so I am getting frustrated with people being coy about that). The term "legal rights" erases the line between rights and privileges, which is certainly controversial.
3) Saying "the existance of legal rights has always been uncontroversial" is gratuitous, serves no purpose in the article, and serves to tell a reader everyone agrees rights, versus privileges, can be bestowed by government. I have come to find the majority of the interested editors have the POV that rights can be bestowed by government, and defending the "uncontroversial" wording is in defense of that POV. Eodcarl (talk) 13:33, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
I'm not going to wade into the dispute over what Paine says, because I think it's irrelevant. However, I would be willing to discuss what reliable sources say about Paine's views on natural versus legal rights.
I'm not going to defend the statement that "the existence of legal rights has always been uncontroversial," but at this point I'm not going to touch it unless there is a consensus to do so.
It seems that much of your disagreement with other editors boils down to lack of mutual clarity regarding semantics.
Your statement about no government at the time recognizing the rights of the individual flies in the face of the well-known "rights of Englishmen" -- life, liberty, and property -- going back to Magna Carta. The eminent legal historian John Phillip Reid has a lot to say about the rights of Englishmen being legal rights and not natural rights. Of course his point of view is open to challenge, but that's not our role as wikipedia editors. Of course we can mention reliable sources who disagree with his view.--Other Choices (talk) 14:00, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand the premise of what others say about Paine carrying more weight than what he said himself. However, I agree we don't have to solve a dispute about competing views to acknowledge outright statements that something is uncontroversal is use weasel words to subtly advance a POV. Eodcarl (talk) 15:11, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Eodcarl, the premise is fundamental to wikipedia: No original research. If we put our own interpretation of Paine into the article, that is original research, which is not allowed. Instead, we must limit ourselves to what reliable sources say about a given subject, even when we have conclusive knowledge that the reliable sources are wrong! [I give a personal example of that on my user page.] When I was new around here, this seemed ridiculous, but as I began to understand how editors interact (both positive and negative), I realized the importance of this policy for keeping the wikipedia project moving forward.--Other Choices (talk) 01:34, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Rights documents section, and rebalancing the article[edit]

Some of the above controversy makes me question the need for the "Legal rights documents" section (currently renamed "Natural and legal rights documents"). The purpose of that section was to be starter material for more discussion about legal rights (in the sense of rights that you have according to the law, regardless of whether there are natural rights backing them or not), so that the article wouldn't be entirely about theories of natural rights. I imagined it would be expanded into a discussion of... something, I'm not sure what, about legal rights, more extensive than just "various laws declare various things to be rights". However, I'm now questioning the use of that section in this article; if anything, it might be better moved into just the general Rights article (and the latter used to have such a thing before it was removed for redundancy with here).

I think it would be better to refocus the balance of this article not on "here are theories according to which we have various [natural] rights, and here charters according to which we have various [legal] rights", but instead on "here are arguments about the existence or non-existence of natural rights", and "here are arguments about the validity or invalidity of legal rights". Possibly all rolled into one, not necessarily broken out into two sections. The lede could then list those two controversies: are there any natural rights at all, in which legal rights could be grounded; and can legal rights have any normative force at all, without natural rights to ground them in?

I imagine Eodcarl would probably be very happy to dig up some authors discussing the latter topic, yes? Would anyone else object to that? --Pfhorrest (talk) 22:08, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

I don't have any issues with that; it is probably the right way to go. Hopefully enough people in good faith agree to remove the unnecessary "uncontroversial" bit. I don't want to set up a quid pro quo, but that wording is really bothersome to me, as a poke in the eye, as if to say, don't dare question this statement because the people already here decided it is not to be questioned. Beyond that, I would be glad to contribute to the new take on the section. Eodcarl (talk) 23:53, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, although I think the arguments casting doubt on the validity of legal rights Pfhorrest pointed to are essentially those casting doubt in the normative authority of government in general. We don't want this to become a fork of anarchism or legitimacy (political). I think there is more to be said about the existence of natural rights. At any rate, that discussion has a greater "market share" of scholarly debates. Addressing the existence of legal rights at great length also runs the risk of making this an article about some flavor of anarchism, rather than clarifying to lay readers how the terms "natural rights" and "legal rights" are used by scholars. RJC TalkContribs
Good point that we want to avoid duplication of articles like legitimacy (political), but I do think there is some ground on which to talk about questions of political legitimacy as they stem from natural rights arguments. I believe Eodcarl has the spirit of Paine down correctly there, and I earlier mentioned Aquinas as another in that camp (though he was speaking of natural law, not natural rights per se, but they are closely related subjects at least). I would like to see Eodcarl come up with some proposed content from sources like those questioning the legitimacy of attempts to create or destroy rights by legal fiat.
Note however (for Eodcarl) that this is not the same thing as questioning "the existence of legal rights" in the sense that the article uses throughout, the sense which means "the evident fact that there are laws declaring such-and-such to be a right or not". The question over the existence of natural rights is whether or not there is anything declared to be a right "by nature" somehow. People who question the existence of natural rights are saying, "Ok, if nature says I have such-and-such rights, where in nature is that written down? Where can I go to find them? How can I know what they are?" Nobody asks a question like that about legal rights: you just pull up a law book for your jurisdiction and look it up and bam, those are the rights which you have according to the law. Now the law may be wrong and maybe you don't really have those rights, or you have others it says you don't have, so there's a separate question about the legitimacy of legal rights, but there is no question about their existence in the same sense that people question the existence of natural rights. And conversely, to my knowledge nobody who agrees about the existence of natural rights questions their legitimacy; it's taken for granted that, if they exist at all, they are legitimate by their very nature. And conversely it's taken for granted that legal rights obviously exist, whether or not they are legitimate. Does everyone see the two different kinds of questions here and agree with this distinction?
As the person who wrote that "uncontroversial" statement Eodcarl object to, I'm fine with rewording it in a way that makes the above distinction more clear, if everyone else is. Perhaps pairing it with another sentence introducing the material I asked him to whip up above. Although, looking at where in the article that is placed, I think it's only there as a kind of explanation of why the history section is only talking about natural rights, and there isn't much history to speak of regarding legal rights. I'm going to be bold and just remove that introductory clause since it serves no purpose and is just causing a fuss. I'm also going to be bold and remove the "documents" section as I suggested above, and merge anything missing from it into the corresponding section in the article Rights.
I propose that we work on reorganizing most of what's already in this article -- the "Natural rights theories" section, the "Debate" section, and the "History" section -- into a section about the question of whether natural rights exist and if so what they are, broken down into chronological period sections and then into sections by prominent authors in those periods. I may take a rough pass at that myself in a moment. Then we can work on building up a section about the question of whether legal rights are legitimate, possibly pulling some material out of that combined section, and hopefully adding some material that perhaps Eodcarl can round up? --Pfhorrest (talk) 04:52, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
I went ahead and did everything I mentioned here. The merger into one continuous History section is very rough for the moment and I intend to come back and clean it up (e.g. Locke and Hobbes are discussed in plain prose paragraphs in the main body of the Modern History section, as well as having their own sections; those could stand to be integrated together), but I need to run for now; anyone else, please feel free to get a head start on that or to rearrange things within there as you see fit. --Pfhorrest (talk) 05:10, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

natural law challenged the divine right of kings??[edit]

The lede cites the fringe economist Murray Rothbard for the ridiculous statement that natural law emerged as an alternative to the "divine right of kings" during the Enlightenment. Actually the reverse is true: During the 17th century, the "divine right of kings" emerged to challenge traditional natural-law limitations on royal power. King James I of England was sensible enough to limit himself to argumentation on the subject, whereas his son Charles I lost his head, so to speak.--Other Choices (talk) 01:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

I don't think this is what Rothbard had in mind, but if you distinguish medieval natural law from modern natural rights, then natural rights theory emerged to combat the divine right of kings, which in term emerged as an attack on medieval natural law. Still, I don't know that you can build the article around the distinction between natural law and natural rights, since there isn't a scholarly consensus as to whether that distinction is or is not a real one. I don't know how to handle this. RJC TalkContribs 02:25, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Both the divine rights of kings and the scientific method of natural law were blessed by the pope. Our Founding Fathers utilized the latter process to divorce us out from a tyrant. In other words, by traditional legal precedence, one step our Founders could have taken was to grab the strongest, smartest American gentleman and then crowned him as a king. Then, also by tradition, a war would have been fought to determine history. But our Founders overturned that old world order of doing business by replacing it with a whole new world - establishing a new order with a scientific conclusion called a natural law.

According to my professor which is written in my notes, a natural right literally reduced on the physical level to the extent of the soul. There existed no solid foundation for the cognitive sciences during the time of the American Enlightenment, but mostly the physical sciences. Immanuel Kant, the father of epistemology was a peer figure of the French Revolution while living at the same time as our Founders.

Through John Locke's two treatises, our natural rights rose to challenge a king who was proclaiming to possess absolute power.

A proclamation is different from a declaration. Example: Proclamation of 1763 versus Declaration of 1776. A proclamation is made by someone who possesses God's authority; meanwhile, our founders declared a new order of a Natural Law while submissive to the authority of God.

So that is the significance of an unalienable natural right. Such a right supersedes even a king proclaming himself to possess absolute power. This trick by the king to gain greater power for himself is all based on Roman's chapter 8. Sort of like wishing for three more wishes every third wish. Unfortunately, this act by the kind of proclaiming himself to possess absolute power looked very similar to when the Roman Emperors were proclaiming themselves to be living gods.

Our Bill of Rights should be considered our Proclaimed Rights and a whole separate document from the rest of the outlining laws instituting the new government within the U.S. Constitution, the latter dealing more specifically with a necessary tyranny or, as it was best put romantically, a "more perfect Union."Uncle Emanuel Watkins (talk) 17:45, 7 July 2014 (UTC)Uncle Emanuel Watkins

All I can say is that your professor's view is not accepted enough by other scholars to satisfy Wikipedia's neutrality guideline. RJC TalkContribs 11:55, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Why does the link to the Russian text send to the article "Устав" ("Articles of association")?[edit]

How did it happen? And what can be done to repair this? Eozhik (talk) 17:21, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. However, there is a consensus that natural rights is a notable topic in its own right and should be spun out into a separate article once someone gets the time and inclination to do so. Jenks24 (talk) 10:06, 14 July 2014 (UTC)



Natural and legal rightsNatural rights – This article is the result of a merger between once separate articles on "Natural rights" and "Legal rights". I can see no good reason for this merger and propose to revert it. They are both clearly distinctive encyclopedic topics. While it is likely that each article will refer to the other concept this is not the same as saying that they are the same topic, or that they can only be defined in opposition to each other.

As it stands the merged-in content from "Legal rights" has long be deleted from the merged Natural and legal rights article so it's not really a question of splitting the content, just moving one and restoring the other. Relisted. Jenks24 (talk) 15:23, 4 July 2014 (UTC) Relisted. Jenks24 (talk) 14:50, 10 June 2014 (UTC)Blue-Haired Lawyer t 12:20, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

Oppose rename (and comment on Third Opinion request removal): I'm a regular volunteer at 3O and saw this listing there in connection with this dispute, which I've removed due to this RM pending. 3O will not provide opinions when other DR or DR-like processes are pending in regard to the same dispute and this RM, which has its own resolution process, subsumes the dispute raised in that 3O request. Having said that, had I provided a 3O on that request (and I guess I'm kind of doing so here), I would have said that my opinion was that so long as both the Legal right and Natural rights articles were redirected to this article, I would have supported that redirection in the form in which the legal right article last existed. It was hardly more than a stub and wholly unreferenced and this portmanteau-like article is the better vehicle for the subjects at this time. If Blue-Haired Lawyer believes separate articles are more appropriate he may well have a point, but only if both those articles are well-developed. If that were the case, then this article could then be cut down somewhat and serve as a comparison of legal and natural rights and their interplay through history as its title suggests. But it should not serve as a single source for both concepts if both can be fleshed out independently (as Natural rights was in its last independent incarnation). I'd suggest that if BHL is sufficiently interested in that task that he draft a well-developed legal rights article in his personal userspace and then post it to mainspace and only then engage in this discussion. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 15:32, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
Thus far my attempts to improve the legal rights have been frustrated by Pfhorrest who keeps reverting my edits. Writing an article in user space would be an option if notability was in issue which it clearly isn't. — Blue-Haired Lawyer t 22:47, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
The point at issue is what belongs at an article about legal rights which isn't entirely redundant with either Rights, or Law, or this article (Natural and legal rights). An article about legal rights should be an article about rights inasmuch as they are of a legal nature, not just a rehash of what rights are, or what legal structures exist. "Rights inasmuch as they are of a legal nature" is part of the subject matter of this article, and is naturally treated alongside a discussion of what a right that is not of a legal nature would be, which is what natural rights are.
If there was enough to be said about each subject separately (i.e. that wasn't just repetition of what's also being said on the other article), then I'd agree, like TransporterMan above, that this article could be split into two complementary articles. To get to that point, material needs to be added to this article. Once there is enough being said about legal rights on this article that is not equally about natural rights -- nor just a rehash of something that Rights or Law would cover -- then a split would be warranted. If you have material like that to add, please add it here where appropriate, and in time there may come a point, if there's enough material to be added, that a split is warranted. But that time is not now. --Pfhorrest (talk) 00:21, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
  • The main issue is the appropriate name for this article. WP:AND is illustrative of the problems with articles with 'and' in their titles. Natural rights and legal rights are not "closely related or complementary concepts". As it stands the article says that natural and legal are different kinds of rights even thought leading sources on the topic consider natural rights to be legal rights. The article name implies a false dichotomy in which right must be either one of the other.
  • As far as redundancy is concerned. The [[Law] article barely mentions rights and the Rights article is more about the philosophy of rights rather than more black letter law issues which I would foresee the Legal rights article becoming. — Blue-Haired Lawyer t 19:32, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
  • The article as it stands is poorly-written, but that of itself isn't a good reason for a title change. In the English common-law tradition, natural law, as interpreted by leading jurists, was an explicitly recognized foundation of the common law. For centuries the standard English-language handbook for transforming natural-law principles into statute law and judicial decisions was Christopher St. Germain's "Doctor and Student," which was closely studied by Thomas Jefferson, who was, after all, an equity lawyer. The opposite view, divorcing legal rights from natural law, is represented by Nazi Germany, where the extermination of the Jews was done "legally," following laws enacted by the legislature. In my opinion, this dichotomy is well worth discussing in a wikipedia article, and there certainly are reliable sources that explore this. -- Other Choices
  • Support: The concepts of "natural rights" and "legal rights" are certainly distinct. The first paragraph of the article makes this clear, defining the two terms sequentially in what comes across as a cringeworthy parody of an "X and Y" article. "X is this. Y is that." If the two concepts were uncontroversially connected, with each definable only with extensive reference to the other, then a case could be made for a joint article on both, but it is clear to me that those criteria are not satisfied here. Whether the article has well-written or well-developed content on both topics is entirely beside the point; an article entitled "Apples and oranges" should not exist regardless of how much of its content pertains to apples and how much to oranges. The existence of pages at apple and orange, even if those pages are stubby and shambolic, is a necessary prerequisite for well-written articles at apple and orange to be brought into existence. (Irony alert: I've just noticed that there is an article at Apples and oranges. However, the article is predominantly about the idiom to which I am alluding, so I will not consider it an exception to the principle that I am espousing.) -- Oliver P. (talk) 20:39, 1 June 2014 (UTC)
I've still yet to see a proposal for how exactly an article about either topic would define its topic without reference to the other, any less so than all the comparable articles like negative and positive rights and liberty rights and claim rights. Apple and oranges are different kinds of fruit, but an apple is not just any non-orange fruit, nor an orange any non-apply fruit. A natural right, on the other hand, is one that is not merely legal, and a legal right is one which is man-made i.e. artificial i.e. not natural. --Pfhorrest (talk) 01:19, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
How about this? — Blue-Haired Lawyer t 11:32, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
The first and last sections of that article are all about comparing and contrasting legal rights with natural rights and so seem to me to suggest that a merged article like we already have is more appropriate. (And those sections could be a good source of inspiration for fleshing out this article further on more detailed minutia of the similarities and differences). The second section of that article is about analyzing rights in general into constituent concepts and is not specifically about rights inasmuch as they are a legal nature; discussion of whether and how rights break down into duties, permissions, etc, is not restricted to legal rights, and applies just as much to natural rights. (And we have similar discussion in the article Rights already). The third section there does seem to discuss rights inasmuch as they are of a legal nature themselves, without resorting either to comparison or contrast to natural rights, or to discussion of matters relating to rights in general, legal or otherwise; but it is a rather short section and I do not think that that outweighs the rest of it leaning in the other direction. --Pfhorrest (talk) 07:22, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
The article proves my point that legal rights can be discussed outside of the context of natural rights. It discusses the relationship between legal and moral rights not as opposable opposites but things which can some connection with each other. Moreover it discusses legal rights completely outside of the context of moral rights as a topic in its own right. — Blue-Haired Lawyer t 21:10, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
This article is not only about them "as opposable opposites", but about all the relations (comparison and contrast both) between them. And my point at the end of the previous comment was that while that article does discuss a tiny bit on issues of legal rights which are not just issues about their relation to natural rights or about rights in general of any sort, it is a tiny bit, in the middle of an article which is overwhelmingly almost entirely on the same topic as either this article, or the article Rights simpliciter. --Pfhorrest (talk) 22:37, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Relisting comment. I know this RM has dragged on since May, but looking through the talk page history this issue has festered for years without a consensus one way or the other so I think a finding of no consensus would be a disservice to all involved. I will leave a note at each of the WikiProjects that are tagged at the top of this talk page in the hope bringing in some outside opinion. Jenks24 (talk) 15:23, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support Natural rights. If there isn't enough content and specificity for there to be an article "legal rights" just don't recreate it. Carolmooredc (Talkie-Talkie) 13:55, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Judging from your comment I think you mean this to be an "oppose" vote; supporting the requested move would support making this article only about natural rights, to make room for another article about legal rights, which it sounds like you don't want. --Pfhorrest (talk) 16:31, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
We don't have both positive rights, negative rights, and also positive and negative rights articles though, and it would seem extremely redundant to add the former two article in addition to the latter one that we already have. Same for any of those other distinctions, including this one. --Pfhorrest (talk) 05:43, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose rename per Andrewa. There exists a basis for articles on legal rights, natural rights, and natural and legal rights, the last of these serving as a comparative or synthetic article. While mergers and crossediting may have confused the issue, this rename probably doesn't help things. Simply develop the three articles from their current states into the entities they should be. Xoloz (talk) 17:54, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose just for the record, my position is spelled out extensively above. --Pfhorrest (talk) 05:43, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

I disagree with the closing comments that there is a "consensus" to develop natural rights into its own article separate from this one. Two in favor and one opposed does not a solid consensus make. --Pfhorrest (talk) 07:05, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Don't worry you can keep reverting any changes anyone makes to legal rights so it really doesn't make any difference anyway. — Blue-Haired Lawyer t 21:51, 2 September 2014 (UTC)