Friday, November 20, 2009

My Constitution, Section 1

Section 1 - Moral principles underlying the fundamental right to life and liberty

1(1) All living beings who possess the faculty of reason and are physically separate from other beings also in possession of the faculty of reason are individuals, irrespective of any other consideration; and all individuals have the right to life and liberty in all its implementations.

Rights exist because they are objective formulations of certain principles of conduct that should govern the actions of rational beings in the context of a broad society. Everything about justice in politics is aimed towards achieving this end – rights, as Miss Rand noted, are the means of subordinating society to the moral law, and which is also stated as the very first thing in the preamble. But morality only applies to individuals, and that only these individuals can be accounted as members of society (as opposed to pets or working animals or cattle etc). The first thing to consider, then, is who is an individual?

The answer is as provided above. An individual, as opposed to a particular creature, is a physically-separate being who has sufficient mental capacity to understand the concept of accountability and to choose courses of action based upon judgement of right and wrong. It is that fact that leads to the existence of rights and why individuals who possess that faculty have them.

Note that this identification of who is an individual and who has rights includes recognition of a woman’s right to choose whether she wants to be a mother or not; a foetus has no rights. It is the woman who has the right to life and liberty, and she is the one at liberty to pick and choose what happens to her own body and how she will live her own life.

Once one has identified who is an individual and noted that all individuals have the right to life and liberty, everything else is about identifying particular derivatives of that right and then of how to construct governments and laws so as to uphold those rights. That is what a Constitution is for, and why this clause is naturally the very first thing stated with intent to have force of law.

1(2) In this Constitution and all Australian law, all interpretations of the meaning of a right to be exercised as someone judges fit or of a power of Office that its holder may exercise as is judged proper shall bear in mind the facts that:
(i) individuals’ lives are entirely their own, and hence all individuals are morally entitled to pursue their own self-interests;
(ii) all individuals are politically entitled to act in any manner they please, whether in those individuals’ interests or not, except to begin the use of force against the person or property of another individual;
(iii) rights are the means by which these entitlements are secured in the context of society, are limited only by others’ rights, there being no such thing as a right to breach rights;
(iv) all individuals are morally entitled to defend their rights by use of retaliatory force, and to demand that the use of retaliatory force be brought under objective principles;
(v) governments are instituted among and by individuals so that their rights are secured and justice is established, where good government functions by doing nothing but make law to implement those principles and by being answerable to constituents.

This is a summary of how one gets from moral theory to political theory. The intent of stating it is straight-forwardly the identification of the basis underlying all law (the nature of a just law is identified later on). All government officers would then be expected to use this as the basis for how they make law, execute that law, and make judgement according to that law.

A secondary purpose is to identify to the reader that a definite connection between morality and political theory exists and is necessary for justice. This Constitution is intended to be an educational document for all as well as a roadmap for good government. Indeed, when someone applies for citizenship they ought be provided with a copy of this Constitution, and ideally it would tie in with a decent education that includes rational courses on morality and civics where the content of this Constitution and the basis for it are a major part of those civics courses.

1(3) The enumeration of rights as implementations of the fundamental right to life and liberty shall not be construed to derogate any other implementations of the fundamental right to life and liberty.

No single document can enumerate every single derivative of the right to life and liberty. The principles can be covered, but the concrete applications are endless. This Constitution only attempts to identify the key applications because they’re the most commonly used and cover most of life, but in the end it must rely primarily upon people’s respect for the principle of the principle. This clause is intended to counter the influence of the concrete-bound people who have difficulty with the principle of principle.


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