recent blog post at Journeys in Alterity.
Now, Kyle is a very intelligent fellow, much more so than I, and he has an ability to make reasonable arguments for or against controversial topics or opinions. I suspect that he was not the first guy one would have chosen as an adversary in Debate class.
Worth noting is Kyle's enjoyment of language and its use, and it is of the use of "rights language" that he says, "I wouldn’t shed a tear to see it become a dead language."
And it is of this language that Kyle states, "but it’s much more abstract than, say, the concept of virtues (habitual dispositions toward the good) or the concept of moral obligations that arise in certain circumstances and situations." He continues, "You can at least point to what those concepts refer to in the real world; you can’t show me a natural or human right."
My own deficiencies and mental inferiority previously noted, I disagree with this line of thinking.
First of all, Kyle is comparing apples and oranges by comparing what the "concept of virtues" refers to with not being able to "show" him "a natural or human right". One can also not be "shown" temperance, prudence, courage, or justice any more so than a right. Moreover, I believe that the use of these words are closely related and perhaps even interwoven with the use of the word "rights".
For instance, show me "justice". Try to describe what "the concept of" justice refers to without at some point using the word "right" or "rights". It seems a bit tricky at the least.
I could ramble on I guess, but I think it comes down to the fact that "rights language" has been distorted, misused, and abused much like the use of "freedom language" has.
True freedom has been given to man from God. True rights have been given to us by God. Here also, the language is interwoven as it is our proper or improper use of the freedom God has given to us that affects the rights of others. In fact, the "language" of rights, virtues, and freedom are all interwoven together.
Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God.
Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts.
The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. (from the Catechism <teaching> of the Catholic Church)