In general, what is your opinion of positive rights? Do they exist? If they do, does they always trump negative rights? Does it absolutely follow they trump negative rights?

It seems to me all “rights” can only come from the agreement of a group of people - they do not occur in nature. “Negative” rights - to not be interfered with or not have to do something - I believe are the only “natural” rights for a free society, and so they necessarily trump all other so-called “positive” rights (to do or have something). Only “negative” rights are essentially respectful of individual freedom, because by definition they maintain every individual in the group must be allowed certain agreed freedoms by the other members of the group.

So-called positive rights I believe are problematic fundamentally because they defy nature and assert people are entitled to something which nature does not automatically provide. The only way positive rights can be bestowed is through the positive or effortful intervention of someone else. Now when that is freely negotiated between individuals we call it the free market, or a marriage contract or family love. But when it is asserted or enshrined by governments it can often involve essentially forcing someone to provide something valuable to someone else at cost to themself, and that can be vulnerable to abuse and even tyranny. A right to free daily bread would be a tyranny over bakers.

Positive rights should be freely negotiated between individuals or small voluntary groups, not asserted by governments. Negative rights are fundamental to a harmonious and free society and they alone need to be protected by governments.

Valentine Roses

Naturally, today being Valentine’s Day lots of commentators are being asked to churn out an article about love, romance and sex.

Yesterday’s effort by reconstructed sex-therapist Bettina Arndt was predictable. Anecdotes about women exerting their sexual powers through dress, and the confusion that some men feel in dealing with what appears to be deliberate sexual provocation.

As an interested amateur in the field of Evolutionary Psychology, I was particularly interested and much more impressed by this article by Rob Brooks in the paper today.

The course of true love was never about profit

"People only manage to get together and raise children courtesy of a most remarkable evolutionary adaptation: romantic love."

"People only manage to get together and raise children courtesy of a most remarkable evolutionary adaptation: romantic love."

Valentine’s Day. What’s not to love about overpriced roses, overbooked restaurants and overstuffed soft toys? Today is the day we render the most multifaceted and untameable of human passions as flat and commercialised as a Kardashian marriage.

Perhaps my attitude’s not surprising for a scientist who studies sexual conflict, the intriguing but somewhat depressing idea that male and female evolutionary interests can never, exactly, coincide.

Human coupling and relationships seethe with conflict. We disagree over when to start having sex, how often to have it, and how quickly to fall asleep afterwards. Couples differ on when to have children, how many to have, and who is going to get up at night when the screaming starts. Economists model the simmering tensions about who does what household jobs, how much money is needed and how to spend it.

If all of this is too dark and unfamiliar to you, that is because only a small fraction of these ever-present conflicts breach the surface of our conscious awareness; most relationships feel happy most of the time. But the conflict between our interests, even within the most loving couples, means that people only manage to get together and raise children courtesy of a most remarkable evolutionary adaptation: romantic love. (Read entire article here or read a longer version as well as other articles on his website here)

There is a line there which is the nux of the entire “problem” of relations between the sexes:

"male and female evolutionary interests can never, exactly, coincide"

Human behaviour is strongly influenced by biological and psychological strategies that are encoded in genes, which have provided reproductive advantage in the past. Most people “get it” that if seeing in colour provides a survival advantage to an animal - say by distinguishing between a poisonous and non-poisonous plant - that animal is more likely to survive to reproduce, and pass the gene for colour vision to its offspring.

Even more complex systems have evolved in higher animals including not just physical capabilities, but behavioural traits which similarly can be a survival advantage. The study of these behaviours and how they might have evolved is the relatively new field called “Evolutionary Psychology”.

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