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What is the definition of having a "Right to drive" or other "Rights" as to opposed to having a "Privilege to drive" or other "Privileges"

This question came to me from a comment I made on the TED Talk "Google's Driverless Car". I argued that driving was not a right but a pivilege, but I noticed there were a few arguments against that thought. So it caused me to think a bit deeper on the differences between having a Right or having a Privilege. I found it impossible to truly define it in my mind. As the more I thought about it, I soon discovered my problem was, are there different definitions to this question depending what part of the world you come from or live in? As I have seen TED has an international base of people that enjoy these "Talks" and I thought I would pose this question to you all. So let the debate begin!! I look forward to your thoughts and comments on this. Thank You...

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Closing Statement from Robert Sherry

First, Thank You all for your replies, you have all given some Great input!!

As for "Rights" I think John Frum gave the best reply (in my opinion) concerning rights. He seemed to understand the Spirit of my question, which wasn't just about "U.S. Driving Rights", but "Rights" in general and he also included the whole world. His answer is as follows.See Below

"Legal rights are one aspect of rights, but not the only one. Legal rights depend on which country one is a citizen of."

"Legality is based on morality.. in every country. What are moral rights based on? That's very debatable. I have my own ideas on what's moral, but I do not assume that everyone would share my views on that."

"If I were in Malaysia, Indonesia or some Arab country, I'd have no "right" to insult Allah or Mohammed. Left libertarians do not subscribe to the concept of property rights. Some countries, and the UN seem to believe in the "right" to water: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_water"

"The statement "this isn't an opinion, it's a legal fact" is empty without the context of time and place. For most of their history, blacks and women in the US did not have a "right" to vote. For quite a while, only landowners had that right."
"Legal rights are fickle. Moral rights are subjective"

Thank You to Pat Gilbert,This is his reply concernig "Privaliges" Below you will find exerpts from his various replies..

"Rights are generally intangible, privileges are tangible

"Rights are generally seen as natural law or providence. Of the two they are infinitely more important."

"A privilege would be as you state the privilege of driving, the privilege of unemployment benefits, the privilege of healthcare."

"At the end of the day privileges are what get abused by individuals, rights are what get abused by government."

Once again, I would like to Thank You all for some very enlightening responses!!
I have learned much from you all, and you have also given me much to consider!!! R.S.... ((:^)<(

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    Jan 23 2013: Our rights are what we claim and can defend.

    As simple as that. We do not have ANY rights unless a) we claim them and b) we can defend them - in court, with arms, through democratic process or otherwise.

    If life is a basic "God-given" right, why do we have capital punishment?
    If voting were a basic "God-given" right, why children, inmates, and insane should not vote?
    If driving is a basic "God-given" right, claim it and defend it.

    No reasoning or physical evidence can prove that we have rights. "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." - that's it. It's a matter of declaration and the ability to defend the rights.
    • Jan 24 2013: Arkady, Thank you for your insight. I will ask you to consider the following quotes in an earlier reply from John Frum which reads as follows--"Legal rights are one aspect of rights, but not the only one. Legal rights depend on which country one is a citizen of."

      Legality is based on morality... in every country. What are moral rights based on? That's very debatable. I have my own ideas on what's moral, but I do not assume that everyone would share my views on that."

      "If I were in Malaysia, Indonesia or some Arab country, I'd have no "right" to insult Allah or Mohammed. Left libertarians do not subscribe to the concept of property rights. Some countries, and the UN seem to believe in the "right" to water: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_water"

      "The statement "this isn't an opinion, it's a legal fact" is empty without the context of time and place. For most of their history, blacks and women in the US did not have a "right" to vote. For quite a while, only landowners had that right."

      "Legal rights are fickle. Moral rights are subjective."
      Arkady, Let me know what you think of John thoughts as any input is appreciated!!
      Thanks Again. R.S......
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        Jan 24 2013: My definition of a right hinges on our will and ability to declare and defend a need or a wish. What rights we actually have depends on multitude of factors: Do we want it? If not, the right has no meaning. Now, what and why people want is a whole separate discussion.
        Can we get it? It is useless to claim a right to water in the middle of the Sahara desert. A right to drive had no meaning before automobiles and roads became common. So, physical, economical, and technological possibilities play a role in what we have the right to.
        Are we willing to go through the trouble of getting it and defending it from challenges and competing claims? We may think that we have a right to an 8-hour work day, but if we choose to work 10 hours, we waive it. Or, if we choose not to defend it risking our job, we also waive it.

        Re: "Legality is based on morality..." I'd say that laws are also based on economic and political interests, safety and security requirements, and many other factors.

        What morality is based on is, again, a whole separate discussion. I do not have a clear answer to this question. Some say, "God", some say "evolution" - whatever meaning people give to these things. I personally like Hume's empiricism as illustrated by Lincoln's quote "When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion." I believe, morality is based on our feelings coming from experience. We feel pain from certain things, pleasure from others. Our feelings also can be caused by social experience. E.g. feeling of shame from being naked is a feeling we get from social reactions of others. Disgust with homosexuality is also a socially taught feeling. Homosexual intercourse is no more disgusting than heterosexual one. The reason every person and every society has a different idea of morality is because people and societies have different physical and social experiences.
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        Jan 24 2013: I am not a moral relativist - I do not believe that we have to conform to the rules of society. Neither do I believe that there are any absolute or universal moral laws. I believe, we have to make and do make our own subjective moral rules based on our own physical, emotional, and social experience. It's great that everyone has their own understanding of morality. Everyone should. This is how morality evolves.

        As for your opening question regarding the difference between rights and privileges I believe it's a word play. Same thing can be called a right or a privilege, depending on the circumstances. My criterion is as I said: a right is what we are willing and able to claim and defend - for ourselves or for others. "Others" may include animals, fetuses, disabled people, or anything else we may wish.
    • Jan 25 2013: you explained it Perfectly . The right to do anything doesn't exist unless you or others like you are willing to defend them.
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      Jan 25 2013: If life is a basic "God-given" right, why do we have capital punishment?
      (The argument for Capital punishment is that is only for those who deny other the right to life; others argue that society does not have the right to do so)rather or not society has the right to take away a God given right can be argued, but it is society and not God that is making the judgment.
      If voting were a basic "God-given" right, why children, inmates, and insane should not vote?
      (Voting is a society given right and not a god given right, and thus it is society that sets the limitations, not god)

      If driving is a basic "God-given" right, claim it and defend it.
      (Freedom is a God given right, and everyone does and the freedom to drive, BUT society says the right to drive on "public" roads is a right that must be earned.) What some call “privilege” I call a “earned society-right”

      So like any car driver "Google's Driverless Car" will also be required to earn the right to drive on public roads.
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        Jan 25 2013: My point is that if "society", government, or a king (which simply means "people") can grant rights or take them away - including life, freedom, driving, or whatever else, there is no difference between rights and privileges. This is a word play that people use to justify their actions towards other people (e.g. government restricting our freedom to move around).

        Taxes, for example, is forceful taking of property from the owners. If we look at what taxes are, they are not different from armed robbery or racket. This is not, however, how most people look at taxes. There is all kinds of reasoning presenting paying taxes as "patriotic duty". American tax system is based on "voluntary compliance" - can you believe that? That's what IRS says, anyway. At the end of the day, it does not matter who says what about rights. What matters is what we can defend in court, with arms, through democracy or otherwise.

        Someone may claim that I do not have the right to live, but if I am willing and able to defend my life, it does not matter what other people say. On the other hand, if other people decide that I do not have the right to live and I cannot defend my life, it does not matter what rights I may claim - I will be dead.

        It's brutal, but seems to be true whether we like it or not. It's always easier to see things as they are, regardless of what we think they "should be" or what we may call them.

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