Declaration of Independence: Justice

Introduction

Roy Clouser is my friend and partner (I’m the junior partner, just to be clear) in this effort to create a blog that addresses the issues facing philosophy. In the past couple of posts, I have began thinking on the subject of justice. Recently, I found a transcript of Roy’s lecture at Harvard Law School in October of 2007. He presents many insights into what our western culture considers to be justice and how to address this culture philosophically. A very short excerpt follows in which he speaks of the Declaration of Independence. Also, just to be clear, I believe it is rare for someone to be invited to give a lecture on justice at Harvard Law School!

I must hasten to say that this excerpt begins right after the introduction in which Dr. Clouser lays out his format for the content of the lecture.

A THIRD VIEW OF RIGHTS AND LAW: A critique of assumptions behind the Declaration and the Constitution The 13th Annual Kuyper Lecture for 2007, Harvard Law School 18th October 2007

natural law theory illustrated
This illustration does not necessarily reflect Dr Clouser’s description of natural law theory, but it does show something of how it is developed.

The Declaration’s Source for Rights

Let’s start with the Declaration’s version of natural law theory. The truth behind the words of that document may, I think, be summarized as follows. The truth is that all humans have a sense of justice. Every people, tribe, tongue, civilization, and culture that has ever existed recognized that it is a norm for life that people should “give to all their due” and be treated likewise by others. So I think it’s correct. Humans are “endowed by their Creator” with an awareness of this norm. And neither their awareness of it nor the norm itself are human inventions or anything they can make go away. Both seem instead to be “natural” and to generate obligations on people’s thoughts and actions whether they wish it or not. That is the element of truth I think the Declaration came close to getting right.

Is There A Universal Ought the Declaration Recognizes?

      But the Declaration doesn’t quite put the point the way I just did. It doesn’t say there is a norm for justice built into created reality, which all people have the ability to recognize. Nor does it identify that norm as the source of the obligation they feel to obey the statutes government enacts. The Declaration does not appeal to a universal norm that obliges all humans simply because they’re human. Rather, it skips the norm for justice and speaks only of rights.

This is a serious omission because such rights as it envisions could only result from the norm of justice. So as I see it, the Declaration gets things backwards. It assumes that people have rights and that those rights are the basis for justice. In fact unless people first recognized the norm of justice the whole notion of rights would make no sense. For a right can be nothing other than: a benefit or immunity that cannot be denied someone without injustice.

  Do Women and African Americans Have Rights?

   By getting the relation between the norm and rights backwards, the Declaration bases the authority for human law-codes on the subjective condition of individuals rather than on a universal norm. It was this significant distortion that led to arguments over exactly who is and isn’t born with rights. For example, in early US history political leaders actually debated whether women or African-Americans had rights. But such a debate would make no sense if rights were the result of a universal norm; in that case all people would have rights because the norm of justice holds for all people. But the Declaration reversed this and tried to make the rights of individuals the basis for knowing what is just. Then – sadly enough – it did make sense to argue over who was and was not born with those rights.

Does the Declaration Think Social Organizations Have Duties?

     The individualism of the Declaration is also deficient in yet another way. By making rights the possessions only of individuals, it fails to see that social organizations have rights (and obligations) as well. It is not only individuals who have rights and obligations vis a vis government. But so do marriages, families, churches, schools, businesses, and so on. For are not they, too, recipients of free speech and press? Are they not also to enjoy freedom from search and seizure? Should not each be guaranteed the freedom to conduct its own internal affairs rather than be dictated to by government? And do they not also have an obligation to obey the laws government enacts?

By speaking only of individuals and government, the Declaration has bequeathed to America a habit of thinking in a truncated way that misses an important point. That point stems from the universality of the norm of justice. That is, justice requires that there be rights and obligations not just between individuals and government but between individuals, between individuals and all types of organizations, and among the various organizations as well.

I hope this gives you some grist for your mill. We will continue this in my next post.

134 replies
  1. Roy Clouser
    Roy Clouser says:

    I don’t know anything about setting up or maintaining a blog. I just write fro this one occasionally.

  2. Diva Trim Keto
    Diva Trim Keto says:

    Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which
    blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because
    I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good
    platform.

    Here is my blog post; Diva Trim Keto

  3. Intelle Brain Review
    Intelle Brain Review says:

    Greate article. Keep posting such kind of info on your site.
    Im really impressed by your blog.[X-N-E-W-L-I-N-S-P-I-N-X]Hello there, You have performed an incredible job.
    I will definitely digg it and individually suggest to my friends.
    I am confident they will be benefited from this website.

    Feel free to surf to my web site: Intelle Brain Review

  4. http://www.quickregisterhosting.com/classifieds/user/profile/237326
    http://www.quickregisterhosting.com/classifieds/user/profile/237326 says:

    Thank you so much regarding giving me personally an update on this topic on your web-site.

    Please realize that if a brand-new post becomes available or in the event any variations occur with the current publication, I would be thinking about reading a lot more and knowing how to
    make good usage of those techniques you talk about.

    Thanks for your time and consideration of others by making this blog available.

    My blog … http://www.quickregisterhosting.com/classifieds/user/profile/237326

  5. Soliderix
    Soliderix says:

    Hello, you used to write wonderful, but the last several posts have been kinda boring…
    I miss your tremendous writings. Past few posts are just a little bit
    out of track! come on!

    my page – Soliderix

  6. http://www.johnsonclassifieds.com/user/profile/2703232
    http://www.johnsonclassifieds.com/user/profile/2703232 says:

    With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced
    but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the
    web without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to
    help reduce content from being stolen? I’d certainly appreciate it.

    Look at my blog; http://www.johnsonclassifieds.com/user/profile/2703232

  7. Roy Clouser
    Roy Clouser says:

    Sorry, but I know nothing about setting up a blog or about blog hosts. I only write for this one occasionally.

  8. http://agilityfitketo.org/
    http://agilityfitketo.org/ says:

    I would like to take the chance of thanking you for your professional advice I
    have continually enjoyed visiting your site.
    We are looking forward to the actual commencement of my university research and the entire planning would never have been complete without dropping by your web site.

    If I may be of any assistance to others, I would be
    thankful to help via what I have gained from here.

    Also visit my website – http://agilityfitketo.org/

  9. buy essay
    buy essay says:

    Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are
    just extremely great. I actualy like what you have
    acquired here, really like what you are stating and the way in whijch you say it.
    You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to kerp it sensible.
    I can not wait to read far more from you. This is really a great website.

    https://essaysonservice.com/
    buy essay
    buy essay
    https://essaysonservice.com/ https://essaysonservice.com/

  10. best essay writing service in usa
    best essay writing service in usa says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m lolking nto starting mmy own blog
    and was curious whst all is needed to get setup?

    I’m assuming havig a blog like yours would cost
    a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’mnot 100% positive.
    Any tis or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    https://writemycustompaper.com/
    best essay writing service in usa
    best essay writing service in usa
    https://writemycustompaper.com/ https://writemycustompaper.com/

  11. Superior TRT Ingredients
    Superior TRT Ingredients says:

    Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your web-site
    is so cool. I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this website.
    It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this
    web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my friend, ROCK!
    I found simply the information I already searched everywhere and simply could not come across.

    What an ideal web-site.

    Visit my page Superior TRT Ingredients

  12. https://www.ocpsoft.org/support/users/loraswadling5/
    https://www.ocpsoft.org/support/users/loraswadling5/ says:

    Thank you for your comments.

    Good – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your site.
    I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as
    related info ended up being truly easy to do to access.
    I recently found what I hoped for before you know it
    in the least. Quite unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add
    forums or anything, web site theme . a tones way for your client to communicate.

    Excellent task.

    Feel free to surf to my web-site – https://www.ocpsoft.org/support/users/loraswadling5/

  13. https://www.ai4children.org/forums/users/valentin2583/
    https://www.ai4children.org/forums/users/valentin2583/ says:

    I merely wanted to thank you yet again for that amazing web
    page you have developed here. It’s full of useful tips for those who are really interested in this specific subject, especially this very post.

    Your all so sweet and thoughtful of others and also reading your site posts is
    a superb delight in my experience. And such a generous present!
    Jeff and I are going to have pleasure making use of your tips in what we have to do
    next week. Our record is a kilometer long and tips will certainly be put to beneficial use.

    Also visit my webpage :: https://www.ai4children.org/forums/users/valentin2583/

  14. Keto XR Reviews
    Keto XR Reviews says:

    Right here is the right site for anybody who hopes to find out about this topic.
    You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I
    personally will need to?HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic which has been discussed for years.
    Wonderful stuff, just great!

    Here is my web page: Keto XR Reviews

  15. Skip / Bypass
    Skip / Bypass says:

    Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your site.
    I had no trouble navigating through all tabs and related info ended up being truly
    simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least.
    Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those
    who add forums or something, web site theme . a tones way for your client to communicate.
    Nice task.

    Feel free to surf to my site … Skip / Bypass

  16. https://kappleketopills.com/
    https://kappleketopills.com/ says:

    Hey there I am so grateful I found your website, I really found you by mistake, while
    I was searching on Yahoo for something else, Regardless I am
    here now and would just like to say thanks for a remarkable post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to look over it all at the minute
    but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read
    much more, Please do keep up the awesome work.

    Here is my blog post – https://kappleketopills.com/

  17. Zoe
    Zoe says:

    My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on a number of websites for about
    a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
    I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my
    wordpress posts into it? Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  18. https://www.incubateur.artpartage.ca/Useful_Summer_Skincare_Tips
    https://www.incubateur.artpartage.ca/Useful_Summer_Skincare_Tips says:

    Hey there! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however I had to ask.

    Does running a well-established blog such as yours take a lot of work?
    I’m brand new to running a blog however I do write in my journal
    every day. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my personal experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new
    aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

    Also visit my web blog; https://www.incubateur.artpartage.ca/Useful_Summer_Skincare_Tips

  19. Janina
    Janina says:

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s
    both educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.

    The problem is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently
    about. I am very happy I came across this in my search for something concerning this.

  20. written by intellebrain.net
    written by intellebrain.net says:

    Greetings from California! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your site on my iphone
    during lunch break. I love the info you present here and
    can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my
    cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
    Anyhow, awesome blog!

    Here is my site – written by intellebrain.net

  21. TestoShield Review
    TestoShield Review says:

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but
    after going through a few of the articles I realized it’s new
    to me. Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking
    back regularly!

    Also visit my site: TestoShield Review

  22. Tilly
    Tilly says:

    Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to know
    a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e book in it
    or something. I feel that you can do with some
    percent to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this
    is wonderful blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

  23. hier
    hier says:

    Good day! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which
    blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting
    sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives
    for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good
    platform.

    Feel free to visit my webpage: hier

  24. Gabriela
    Gabriela says:

    My brother suggested I might like this web site. He used to be totally right.
    This publish actually made my day. You cann’t believe just
    how so much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  25. Alejandro
    Alejandro says:

    Hello this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  26. Grace
    Grace says:

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?

    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks

  27. Social Media Marketing
    Social Media Marketing says:

    I am extremely inspired along with your writing talents and also with the format in your weblog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it your self? Anyway keep up the excellent high quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one these days.

Comments are closed.