On Positive Rights

I read something recently that contained within it the perfect argument against positive rights. It was this: “Imagine two socialists on a deserted island, both demanding the right to education, healthcare, and basic income.” Positive rights are those which require the use of coercion by some over others, such as each of these. Clearly, such demands are absurd. Rights are a mental construct, a useful tool to reducing conflict in a world of scarcity for those who desire peace. Positive rights, those which by definition require the use of coercion, thereby increasing conflict, are a gross perversion of the purpose of rights, and their promotion should be assiduously avoided by anyone concerned about justice, ethics, and wisdom. And that’s today’s two cents.


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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.