Rights and fear.

James Rogers jamesr@best.com
Tue, 25 Mar 2003 12:43:06 -0800


Joseph S Barrera III wrote:
> In what sense does freedom of expression exist?
>=20
> It certainly is not a scientific construct.
> Why should anyone (esp. atheists) believe in
> an innate freedom of expression?


It doesn't exist technically, but there are pragmatic constructions of =
it
which are useful.  The implicit assumption that must be made for =
pragmatic
constructions is that "rights" have a certain delineated scope in an =
open
system, with the system only being "open" as a practical approximation.  =
By
assuming an open system, one can assign fictional properties to entities
within the system without generating immediate consistency problems, but =
the
more "closed" a system appears to become (i.e. a degradation of the =
"open"
approximation) the more apparent the fiction becomes.  Humans often make =
the
opposite approximation for engineering purposes, assuming that an open
system is a sufficiently good approximation of "closed".

For classical American culture, the scope of application is the =
individual,
whereas other cultures often prefer to assign rights to a broader scope
(e.g. "society" rather than the individual).  As the planet becomes more
crowded both physically and logically, the assumption of an open system =
that
underlies the concept of "rights" comes under increasing stress.

Since I have to get back to work, I'll leave it as an exercise to the =
reader
as to why the calculus of rights requires the premise of an open system =
to
be valid. The much maligned loss of rights in modern society is =
essentially
a consequence of the increasingly obvious fact that the system is =
apparently
getting more "closed" every day.  To reverse this trend, one has to
effectively increase the relative open-ness of the system.  However, =
humans
have behavioral instincts that trend towards making the system more =
closed,
so that is something of a problem.

Cheers,

-James Rogers
 jamesr@best.com