I can understand the opposing view as well though; that useful concepts are truth/reality/part of existence. I don't think either worldview is substantially better than the other so if you choose to see concepts this way then you could say that rights exist. The reason I usually choose not to view things in terms of rights is because people tend to focus on whether they are justified in a certain action rather than what is the best way to approach a certain scenario. An excellent example is a story I heard recently.
"one night, as Diaz stepped off the No.6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.
He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy pulled out a knife. ”He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,” Diaz says.
As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If your going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”
The would be robber looked at his would be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. ”He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?”
Diaz replied: ”If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do is get dinner and if you really want to join me …hey, you’re more than welcome.
“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.
Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sate in a booth.
“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?”
“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. ”He says, ‘but you're even nice to the dishwasher.”
Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way.” the teen said.
Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. ”He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.
The teen couldn’t answer Diaz-or he didn’t want to.
When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill’ cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”
Diaz says he asked for something in return. The teen’s knife. “and he gave it to me.”
Did Mr. Diaz have the right to defend himself and shoot that teenage mugger dead? Absolutely! And if he had been concerned with right and wrong he may have and this would have just been another story about a dead wayward teen and the man who defended himself. Can we agree though that because this man exhibited empathy and non-judgement this story was resolved in a better way? I think so.
That's why I try to phase things in terms of dispute resolution rather than rights. This story exhibits a great resolution to a terrible dispute. That's what rights are for after all. They're a means to resolve disputes before they occur or to determine culpability afterward. It all should be voluntary of course but I hope that I could have the same conviction to react similarly. -Steve Holman