“I think this at the end of the day is a big philosophy difference,” he continued. “What Ms. Kennedy and others were saying is that this is a new government-granted right. We disagree with the notion that our rights come from government, that the government can now grant us and define our rights. Those are ours, they come from nature and God, according to the Declaration of Independence — a huge difference in philosophy.”Read it at Raw Story
Paul Ryan: Repeal health law because rights come from God
by David Edwards
Rep. Ryan doesn't get that empirically rights are human social constructs that are ratified by law. These constructs are basically normative. Nature is not normative and prescriptive, and statements relating to God are matters of belief.
There are opposing arguments over the basis of rights, and Ryan's position is one of the many possible views, none of which can be justified empirically because the premises are essentially normative.
That anything "comes from God" is a matter of belief rather than reason or observation. And who speaks for God in matters like these?
"Natural" means either found in nature or, in the sense of "natural law," a norm that is specially privileged by its universality, or self-evident. But no right is not found universally in nature. What does it mean to say that something is self-evident if it is not universally agreed upon, and even disputed?
Historically, rights are ideas — social constructs — that develop over time in certain cultures first as customs and then they get ratified by law as formal statements of institutional arrangement. The conception of rights differs among cultures and social groups.
On one hand, there are good consequentialist arguments for rights. On the other hand, Ryan's position is deontological insofar as it is categorical, being based on dogmatic belief, and it also commits the naturalistic fallacy, that is, deriving an "ought" from an "is."
The "founding fathers" justification is an argument from authority based on the authority of 18th century social and political liberalism stemming from the writings of John Locke. Hardly authoritative philosophically, and not a very secure basis for a convincing argument.
But to his credit, Ryan admits that this is a difference in philosophy, that is, not subject to scientific verification. So the argument, in his opinion is basically a moral argument, in which consequences do not apply given his categorical methodology.
There is nothing wrong with subscribing to Ryan's view if it is one's preference as long as one admits it is a preference. However, it is a weak position in mixed company, where not everyone agrees with the presuppositions.