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 Individual vs. Society

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Posts : 19
Join date : 2008-06-30
Age : 30

PostSubject: Individual vs. Society   Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:29 am

This is something I have discussed with a couple of people here, but I thought it would be a good thing to post, to see what everyone thought.

I have been thinking about, over the last few months, the conflict in our country, and indeed the world over, between Individuality and the go-with-the-rest mentality that pervades our Society. The question is posed thus: At what point does the welfare of the Collective(society at large) overtake the rights of the Individual. That is, is there a point at which what is the "Greater Good" becomes more important than the Rights(in a universal, inviolable sense) of the Individual?

Another way to state this would be, if the Common Good is more important at any point than inherent, God-given Rights of the Individual to do what he wants, so far as he does not violate the same Rights of others, then is there really such a thing as a Right?

And this brings up a further question of semantics. By "Right" I mean an almost Lockean ideal of Natural Rights, those things that an Individual should or ought to be able to do, irrespective of what is the Greater Good. How do you define a "Right"?

The consequences of the answer here are rather important. If there is no true thing as a "Right" in the Lockean sense, then our concept of the Right of Free Speech, of self-protection, of Belief, of general freedom in our personal lives, is simply a form of social contract, and therefore means nothing, and is given weight and moral authority only insofar as everyone involved (both the Individual, and the Collective) respects this contract.

I"m having a hard time sorting through all of this, and coming up with a solid, logically-defended stance. What say ye?
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PostSubject: Re: Individual vs. Society   Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:51 pm

Rights are as much a social contract as the perceptions of a greater good for humanity. I do believe, this question of the individual v. society has basis pointing to questions of general existence.

Humans, for all intents and purposes, can be considered a 'social animal' regarding the desire to remain with others, form communities, groups etc. Therefore, many serve to form the collective society, and ultimately benefit from its provisions. Since humans are not standard in beliefs and feelings, however, there are also those of the more anti-social strains who wish to be alone.

So the question really varies... The 'individual' holds himself paramount in his own vision of existence while the collectivist sees his role as tantamount to any of his peers, and the collective in general. he sees the general group as one organism, and serves for the betterment of society as a whole.

I say, personally, that the individual should remain paramount in his quest for the pursuits of life, liberty and property, etc. But it is also an issue of doing a little evil so great good will come of a situation.

For example, if a population of 15 were infected with a virulent disease that could spread to the rest of the 100,000 inhabitants, than those infected should be removed or sequestered regardless of their own desires if it meant preventing society as a whole from dying.

The scenarios go on ad infinitum, so i dont think there is a general rule of thumb pointing to when which aspect of society has priority... I will have to think this through to a greater extent however...
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PostSubject: Re: Individual vs. Society   Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:30 pm

The rights of an individual are the product of societies, there is no set of rights that apply to all humans unless the greater part of a society wants those rights applied. The right to vote or the right to freedom of speech are both created rights, which have no real basis in a situation without a government. For instance, a group of people out in the wild have no need for a right to vote or freedom of speech because there is no voting and there is no regulation of speech. However in government there are elected officials and various groups of people with different beliefs living together, this causes friction and to keep violence from breaking out people are restricted in the kinds of things they can say in public. So thus, rights of the individual cannot exist without, the oppression of society for with no society those rights have no purpose. In a way, rights are inherent only when the society has reached a certain point where without restriction there would be no society. Ultimately, though a society is made of individual wills, society will also try to maintain some of the conditions it had before the need for oppression, and so these pre-civilization conditions become the rights of the individual. Rights will always come to be in a government because of the need for the masses to express the individual wills which make it up. However, these rights in a basic group or collection will most likely not come to be unless the people who make up that group come from an advanced society. So all rights are a social contract but one that so far has come to pass in any government which has sustained itself for a long period of time. Thus, one could say that yes, these rights are inherent, although god given may only apply to those who subscribe to that belief system, but only when society has reached a certain point and before that they are not only optional but most likely unnecessary. Also before anyone points out countries which are under complete dictatorship I point out that most of those countries have only been around for a short time, less than 200 years, and that China is starting to perform major strides in the freedom of the individual section of its government. Also ,I like to type in nouvelle vouge d'anglais hence my lack of paragraphs or possible mis-punctuation.
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