*countable infinities only

Seth Johnson seth.p.johnson at gmail.com
Wed Jun 20 00:34:02 UTC 2012

Minor clarifying insert:

On Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 8:26 PM, Seth Johnson <seth.p.johnson at gmail.com> wrote:
> The positive/negative right formulation is a post-New Deal notion,
> rooted in the question of whether it has been textually granted --
> very different from the notion that we hold rights prior to
> government.  It may be that we can describe all rights

^in this way -- in terms of their being positive or negative --

> regardless of
> whether they are the result of legislation or constitutional language,
> but we have a unique foundation that renders the government
> accountable to the people in that we established the States and the
> Union on the basis of inalienable rights that are not subject to
> government abrogation (except for very compelling reasons and by
> narrowly tailored laws).
> Seth
> On Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM, Eric Smith <eric at brouhaha.com> wrote:
>> Andrew Haley wrote:
>>> The problem with this claim is that it equivocates on the meaning of "a
>>> right". There are at least two definitions of "a right" in this sense: moral
>>> rights and legal rights. These are not the same. Moral rights are not in the
>>> gift of any Government. While we may not have a legal right to run whatever
>>> software we wish on hardware we own, it's not at all unreasonable to claim a
>>> moral right to do so. Andrew.
>> Orthogonal to moral vs. legal rights, there is also a distinction between
>> positive and negative rights.  If you have a positive right to something,
>> that actually puts an obligation on someone to guarantee that you
>> get/have/exercise the something.  If you have a negative right to something,
>> that only prohibits taking the something away from you, but doesn't put an
>> obligation on anyone to guarantee that you get/have/exercise the something.
>> For instance, in the US the right to use a printing press is protected by
>> the First Amendment (freedom of speech), but it is a negative right, in that
>> the government can't (except in very limited circumstances) do anything to
>> prevent you from using a printing press, but the government is NOT obligated
>> to provide you with a printing press.  On the other hand, the right to an
>> attorney for criminal defendants, protected by the Sixth Amendment, has been
>> interpreted by SCOTUS a positive right, since if you cannot afford an
>> attorney the government is obligated to provide one for you.
>> I would claim that the moral right to run whatever software we wish on
>> hardware we own is a negative right; it doesn't put any obligation on
>> another party to help you do it.  If you can hack up Fedora to run on a
>> Nokia Windows phone, more power to you, but Nokia and Microsoft aren't
>> obligated to help you do it, and aren't legally prohibited from doing things
>> that make it difficult for you to exercise your moral right.  Possibly in
>> this example someone might consider Nokia and Microsoft to be infringing
>> their moral right, but (in the US at least) they'd have no recourse.
>> Eric
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