'natural law' is a dumb notion
Right, I haven’t thought about ‘political philosophy’ for a while, but listening to all manner of deviants (not that that’s a bad thing) bleat on about deprivation of rights, i.e. im a ****/lezbo, its my ‘right’ to get married, brings me back to that old Lockian natural Law thing which Ive always found a bit ridiculous, as have all sound thinking people (American constitutional rhetoric aside).
In cyber land one tends to encounter a disproportionate number of liberals, radical leftists, multiculturalists, minority moralizers, and like hard-core nutz who either ostensibly or implicitly espouse a natural law view of morality. They also tend to be non-theist, which is removed from natural law intellectual “god given rights” foundings.
im a devoted athiest and moral realist, so im pleased to see a trend away from God-reasoning. However, I do wonder how other athiests can believe in so-called "natural" rights.
Advocates of natural rights elevate their personal biases/dogmas to cosmic law. However, when one looks for the "naturalness' of these rights, one finds it doesnt exist.
They point either to free-market capitalism, or to the “right” to personal property, or the “right” to indulge some kind of deviant behavior currently unsanctioned by legislation.
As for Capitalism, it is a relatively recent socio-economic system, hardly ‘natural” at all. Our human ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers. Surely we understand that nature is indeed red in tooth and claw. Even the altruism exhibited by species on the individual level is the work of selfish genes seeking propagation.
As for moral fanatics whining for their rights, any “right” can only be approved by a higher authority. The very word right is context dependent on a type of master/slave dynamic, which itself negates the plausibility of a ‘right’ being natural. Before Locke invoked the idiotic idea of God given rights, Aristotle (my favorite philosopher) understood this.
"Natural law", for Aristotle, meant the lowering classes obeying their superiors. One can make a more restrained and better claim to inherent rights this way, but this puts a different spin on the word “natural”. The outcome of this reasoning is rights are not even species-specific - Aliens can also have inherent rights, as can non-human animals here on earth. I can agree with something like this, but having to talk with these sort of examples illustrates how foolish the idea of natural rights is.
In an age of nihilism, non-theism, and overall relativism, it is bizarre that people can really talk about “rights” as being natural at all. Or even using the word “right’ without spefying the context is illogical. Appealing to ‘rights’ you are appealing to manmade (unnatural) political systems, as that is all that can uphold a law.
Sometimes rights get posited in terms of ‘categorical imperatives’ and utilitarian ethics, but, again, in this sense, after the failure of the enlightenment project and the advent of Auschwitz and relativism, its rather ignorant to talk of natural rights now.
Ive no idea why this notion of natural rights remains on the theoretical table.
I've also noticed natural rights being recruited by evolutionary psychologists trying to use the principle to prove that cooperation is in our genes and therefore justify a type of Rawlsian welfare liberalism or even Kantian “liberal internationalism” (This is the heart of Chomsky’s politics and linguistics) . This might be more tenable, as it is a little less bastardizing of the concept of “natural”, but then again, we know so little about the what can be the expected output of a human genome, that is idiotically presumptuous to even to even start talking in this manner. Also, when we do finetune behavioral genetics to an exact science, its more likely to vindicate Machiavelli than Jesus. You just have to look at the jungle law that exists in the animal kingdom and in precivilized places like central Africa to see that.
Basically, natural law is just another foundationalism that dogmatists and ideologues employ to argue their political theory is unassailable, because it's 'natural'. Noone should even say I have the right to anything unless it is suffused with legal reasoning and they are cognizant of the fact that no rights can be natural at all.