Rights Or Obligations: Which Is It Going To Be, Scotland?

I followed a link from David Malone over to here. This notion of responsibility towards each other has been part of my thinking for a long time. It involves risk and trust which are not easy… what do you think?

Views From The Boatshed

I have just watched this interview in which Ross Ashcroft of the Renegade Economist talks to author and film-maker David Malone about democracy, economics and more.

There’s a lot of good stuff in it but one idea struck me as something really special.

David Malone argues that the idea of individual rights – human, constitutional, whatever – is counterproductive. He wants us to turn the idea of individual rights on its head and replace it with the idea of individual obligations.

As an example he says that there should be no “right” to live in peace in our own homes. Instead, he says, you should have an obligation to ensure that I can live in peace inside my home, and I should have the same obligation to you.

Think about how powerful this is.

Under a system of rights I am sitting in one corner demanding what’s due to me while…

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2 thoughts on “Rights Or Obligations: Which Is It Going To Be, Scotland?

  1. First reaction (speaking generally, specifically)…Very much a legitimate, an appropriate alternative…..which took me two seconds to say aloud. But would take a couple life times to list all the ways I could envision (the multitude of barriers) governments, special interest groups, religions etc could and would string together to water down an alternative which appears not to be working ( what we have now, kinda does work, but it is more of band aide applied a hundred years ago). ‘Obligation’ could very well be the next step of an ever evolving ideology that just seems to have a life of its own -there never has been a real plan -more of a ‘from every action there is a reaction’.-a knee jerk. Which goes to, am sure the idea of individual obligations would not be perfect but at least it seems to be born out of the spirit of cooperation, an hopefully sincerity. Everything in its infancy, begins with baby steps, so where best to start a new way thinking -on the playground, in the school, in the arts, in the cornfields, To paraphrase you -try, keep trying, stay the coarse, learn, keep going.


    1. Quite – definitely a leap into the future and maybe an idealist position. I thought about the old “what goes around comes around” that is you do what seems right for others regardless of yourself because it makes a better world. There is no direct gain intended by the saying, just if its a better world we are all better off in it. Would that some others thought this way too!


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