[ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: The issue at hand in this post is whether people have positive rights. Please focus comments on that issue.]
The following exchange developed here. Since the issue deserves attention in and of itself, here it is, beginning with a proposed answer to the question “Should we let a cancer patient die just because s/he is poor?”
AARON: The answer is yes.
Doctors, lab technicians, nurses, health care administrators, the plethora of other health care professionals, and their productive actions all comprise “health care”. If you are suggesting that one has a right to health care, then you are suggesting the individuals above are obligated to provide said services. In other words, one’s need obligates another to act. I reject any conception of “rights” that obligate positive action.
What is more, saying one has a right to health care entails that someone is obligated to pay for the services. If you believe in such an obligation, then in essence what you are really saying is that some arbitrarily determined amount of my wealth belongs to someone other than myself. But since my wealth is the result of my productive labor, ingenuity, and efforts, which in turn results from my physical and mental activity, what you are saying is that some portion of my time and effort is not my own, rather, it belongs to some other person(s).
In brief, health care is a service provided by individuals- in kind, really no different than that provided by auto mechanics- and, as such, should be acquired via voluntary transaction(s) (like automotive repair services).
Having rambled on for long enough, I should point out that if you think individuals are morally obligated to provide and/or pay for health care services for another, then by all means, please do provide such services yourself. You are at liberty to do so. However, please do not think you may obligate me to your morality, and claim ownership over my person and property.
ANDREW: Aaron, I don’t wanna get into a big debate (I’m way too lazy for that), but am I reading you correctly? Do you really think you have no obligation to, say, save a drowning child when it would be very easy for you to do so and no one else is available to do the job? Presumably you believe in at least negative obligations imposed by someone’s personal rights (I can’t punch you or enslave, unless I have a morally overriding reason to do so), but do you believe in the positive obligation of others to ensure that these negative obligations aren’t ignored? (for example, would I have an obligation to help a woman being attacked by a mugger, or did the abolitionists have an obligation to end slavery?). Based on what you’ve written I’m not sure you can give answers to these questions that are at all plausible….
[ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: After, what seems to me, an unfortunate digression in the early comments, Aaron responds to Andrew’s question here. ]