I think I’ve finally realized what libertarians are doing wrong in their arguments about natural rights. I don’t know if this is intentional or just a happy coincidence on their part, but I think this is why they have so many problems getting their ideas across.
See, at its core, natural rights is a philosophical position. That’s perfectly fine. But with all philosophical positions, you have to have an argument, you have to have support and be able to defend your views rationally. That’s how philosophy works. You can’t just make a pronouncement and pretend that everyone is going to take it seriously because you said it. Now there have been plenty of books by famous philosophers who have put forth the idea of natural rights and spent lots of time trying to make an argument for them and that’s great. I’m not convinced by those arguments and I’ve read Locke and Hobbes and Kant and Paine, but at least they tried.
But you have lots of modern libertarians who don’t have the mental wherewithal to put together a credible philosophical argument. They know they like the idea of natural rights, they just don’t understand the ideological underpinnings. However, they desperately want these things to be real so they just claim that they are. They claim that natural rights are a fact, but that brings with it other problems. If you claim that something is an objective fact, you need to show how you came to that conclusion. You need to produce objective evidence. You need to show your work. But, of course, they have no work, they have no evidence to present, they’re only claiming that it’s a fact because it seemed like an easier solution than having to put in the effort to defend a philosophical position. So they’re left in this quasi-religious conundrum, where they have nothing to present, but they have a desperate need to believe. All they can do is keep repeating their quasi-religious mantra over and over, hoping that repetition somehow makes it seem reasonable, but it doesn’t.
The problem is that both options require a defense but most of these libertarians just have no defense to provide. They don’t understand the philosophy sufficiently to present credible arguments in support of their ideas and, because natural rights are not objectively real, they have no credible evidence to present that show them to be factually true. All they can do is keep declaring that they’re “just true”. No, they’re not. They have to believe it though because it forms the basis of their entire political ideology and without the idea of natural rights, they’ve really got nothing.
You really can’t have an idea or make a claim and not have a defense. Your say-so and your desire for a thing to be true don’t make it true and it certainly won’t convince a skeptic that what you claim actually makes sense. You have to actually have a cohesive argument that convinces people that you have the slightest clue what you’re talking about. And unfortunately, far too often, libertarians simply don’t.