In some theories on rights a general right to protect and a general right to punish are acknowledged in addition to a particular person's right to protect 'imself (and certain others) and a victim's right to punish. A general right to protect oneself against interference seems to follow immediately from the general extrinsic right to do or not to do something, and can be considered extrinsic itself too. Such a rightful protection may also be the protection by someone else, so long as it is not a form of interference itself (infringing upon the first party's extrinsic right to prohibit another from protecting the first party itself). Any alleged right of protection interfering with a protected person's own extrinsic right, and with every other person's extrinsic right to do or not to do, is an intrinsic general right based on certain (non-metadoctrinal) doctrinal principles. Punishing is always an infringement on someone else's liberty, however wicked that other person may be. It can only be justified on the basis of certain doctrinal principles, and therefore every alleged right to punish is intrinsic. Even when it is argued that someone's right to life or liberty is forfeited (granted that this is possible at all) because of 'er own, wrong act of interference, it still remains a doctrinal question how and to what degree this person ought to be punished, or how and to what degree we may interfere with 'er liberty in order to protect ourselves or others.

The problem of personal interference, protection and punishment is a very complicated issue we shall not attempt to solve at this place. One reason why it is so complicated is that all three types of right-duty constellations play a role here, not only the extrinsic and intrinsic, general ones. Alleged special rights, such as a victim's right to punish, may not be genuinely special tho, because only the person interfering entered into the special relationship voluntarily, and thus could be said to have the special half-right to be punished. The victim's right (if recognized at all) is rather a general right applied to a specific situation in which a special relationship was forced upon 'im.

Some virile thinkers and virtuous moralizers with aspirations to spiritual grandeur have been telling their 'fellow-countrymen' that they had a right 'to be punished' or a right 'to punishment'. They failed to tell them that this 'right' was mandatory and therefore a half-right at the most; and they failed to tell them that even this half-right is only intrinsic and depends on a particular doctrine's principles (or lack thereof). They certainly did not point out the weakness of the half-right to be punished in cases where the person to be punished had not interfered with anyone else's liberty by any manner of means. However preposterous the right 'to be punished' may seem, or however immoral the exclusive emphasis on such a half-right may be, conceptually its recognition does make some sense when we look at it from the perspective of the total system involved. If such a system is a body which only punishes people belonging to the group it protects (like a state its citizens or residents), then the half-right to be punished does not exist in isolation, but follows from membership of that group. The same membership is, then, associated with real rights, such as the right to be protected against bodily assault. Now, assuming that this membership is advantageous on the whole to the person concerned, the half-right to be punished by the system in question is expressive of the very membership in the total system which is advantageous. Hence, the half-right itself may be associated with advantages, or rather more advantages than disadvantages. It is with this in mind that those who glorify punishment (that is, the punishment of others) dare emphasize a right 'to punishment'. What they dare not speak of, is that the total system must be more advantageous than disadvantageous to the person concerned, and that the person concerned 'imself has the extrinsic right to determine what is advantageous or what is disadvantageous to 'im, and has the extrinsic right to decide whether 'e wants to belong to the group in question or not.

A special relationship traditionally often compared with that of a state and its citizens is that of (one or two) parents and their (child or) children. Just as those who glorify retribution and punitive 'rights' tend to command unconditional obedience of citizens to every kind of government and its laws, so they may also speak of the duty of children to obey every kind of parent and his or her rules. (If they speak of children's rights at all, then merely of children as socioeconomic recipients, rather than as persons.) In a weakened version the parent's right 'to special favorable consideration from a child' may be referred to. But who created the special relationship between parent and child in the first place? It was created by the parents, not by the child. And if not voluntarily and intentionally, it is yet the parents who --except in a case of rape-- could or should be held responsible, at least not the child. From a pure parent-child perspective the special duty is solely the parents' duty towards their child, and from this perspective it is the child that has the right to a special favorable consideration (including the right to choose the kind of education it is to receive or undergo). Now, if the biological parents keep the child, feed it, care for it and show special affection towards it, then they certainly do have the indirect right to the child's favorable consideration as well. This, however, is not a right they have as (mere) biological parents but as the people who feed the child, care for it and show special affection towards it; in short, as its fosterers and friends, whether they are the biological parents or not.

It is no coincidence that those who have traditionally only emphasized the duties of citizens and children on the one hand, and only the rights of the state and of adults or parents on the other, were on the right side of a single right-duty relationship, that is, the side of those in power, namely the officials and the adults or parents themselves. In matriarchical organizations and societies they were, first and foremost, mothers; in patriarchical organizations and societies they were, first and foremost, 'fathers' -- real fathers or religious pseudofathers.

©MVVM, 41-59 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Instruments
Right-Duty Constellations
Some Alleged Rights and Justifications