If you’re looking for a new reductio ad absurdum of the modern conception of human rights, you can find it right here: Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, maintains that “access to the Web is now a human right.”
The modern conception of human rights runs along these lines: if a large number of people have X, would hate to have to do without X, and feel guilty about the fact that other people have to do without X, then having X must be a human right and governments across the globe must be enlisted to ensure that everybody gets X.
Of course, rights imply duties: if you have a right to X then someone somewhere must have a duty to ensure that you get X. So whose duty is it to ensure that everyone gets access to the World Wide Web? Presumably those who end up being forced to pay for it. No prizes for guessing who that will be!
In any case, if this is how human rights arise, why stop at access to the Web? Why not a human right to air conditioning, or to freshly ground coffee, or to live classical music? Remember, you heard it here first.
In a previous post I posed some questions about David VanDrunen’s defense of Two-Kingdom (2K) doctrine and raised a general objection to his position (and to similar 2K views). In response to a comment on that thread, I tried to boil down the objection as follows. On my reading, VanDrunen seems to be committed to all of the following claims:
(K1) When living as citizens of the common kingdom, people should observe the moral standard of that kingdom.
(K2) The moral standard for the common kingdom is natural law (and only natural law).
(K3) When living as citizens of the common kingdom, Christians should observe the distinction between the two kingdoms.
(K4) It is not a deliverance of natural law that Christians should observe the distinction between the two kingdoms.
In a nutshell, my objection is that these claims form an inconsistent set: they can’t all be true. So the question is whether 2K advocates really are committed to all four claims, and if not, which do they reject.
I recently read David VanDrunen’s A Biblical Case for Natural Law and Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. VanDrunen’s is the most scholarly, articulate, measured, and irenic defense of Two-Kingdom (2K) doctrine I’ve encountered. However, I have some questions about its application and a possible objection to it in principle.
Semi-Serious Warm-Up Argument
(1) Twittering requires communication in 140 characters or less.
(2) Almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated in 140 characters or less.
(3) Therefore, almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated by Twittering.
(4) A method of communication is intrinsically flawed if almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated by it.
(5) Therefore, Twittering is an intrinsically flawed method of communication.
(6) One ought not to act in such a way as to participate in, promote, or legitimize an intrinsically flawed method of communication.
(7) Therefore, one ought not to Twitter.
My review of Francis Beckwith’s book Defending Life has just been posted over at Discerning Reader.
If you’re wondering what lies behind the review’s opening sentence, check out this article for starters, followed by this article.