natural rights

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natural rights,

political theory that maintains that an individual enters into society with certain basic rights and that no government can deny these rights. The modern idea of natural rights grew out of the ancient and medieval doctrines of natural lawnatural law,
theory that some laws are basic and fundamental to human nature and are discoverable by human reason without reference to specific legislative enactments or judicial decisions.
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, i.e., the belief that people, as creatures of nature and God, should live their lives and organize their society on the basis of rules and precepts laid down by nature or God. With the growth of the idea of individualism, especially in the 17th cent., natural law doctrines were modified to stress the fact that individuals, because they are natural beings, have rights that cannot be violated by anyone or by any society. Perhaps the most famous formulation of this doctrine is found in the writings of John LockeLocke, John
, 1632–1704, English philosopher, founder of British empiricism. Locke summed up the Enlightenment in his belief in the middle class and its right to freedom of conscience and right to property, in his faith in science, and in his confidence in the goodness of
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. Locke assumed that humans were by nature rational and good, and that they carried into political society the same rights they had enjoyed in earlier stages of society, foremost among them being freedom of worship, the right to a voice in their own government, and the right of property. Jean Jacques RousseauRousseau, Jean Jacques
, 1712–78, Swiss-French philosopher, author, political theorist, and composer. Life and Works

Rousseau was born at Geneva, the son of a Calvinist watchmaker.
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 attempted to reconcile the natural rights of the individual with the need for social unity and cooperation through the idea of the social contractsocial contract,
agreement or covenant by which men are said to have abandoned the "state of nature" to form the society in which they now live. The theory of such a contract, first formulated by the English philosophers Thomas Hobbes (in the Leviathan,
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. The most important elaboration of the idea of natural rights came in the North American colonies, however, where the writings of Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and Thomas PainePaine, Thomas,
1737–1809, Anglo-American political theorist and writer, b. Thetford, Norfolk, England. The son of a working-class Quaker, he became an excise officer and was dismissed from the service after leading (1772) agitation for higher salaries.
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 made of the natural rights theory a powerful justification for revolution. The classic expressions of natural rights are the English Bill of Rights (1689), the American Declaration of Independence (1776), the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789), the first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States (known as the Bill of Rights, 1791), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations (1948).


See B. F. Wright, American Interpretation of Natural Law (1931, repr. 1962); L. Strauss, Natural Right and History (1957); O. J. Stone, Human Law and Human Justice (1965); R. Tuck, Natural Rights Theories (1982); L. L. Weinreb, Natural Law and Justice (1987); R. Hittinger, A Critique of the New Natural Law Theory (1988).

References in classic literature ?
In that instrument, the right to institute and to alter governments among men was ascribed exclusively to the people--the ends of government were declared to be to secure the natural rights of man; and that when the government degenerates from the promotion to the destruction of that end, the right and the duty accrues to the people to dissolve this degenerate government and to institute another.
The assertion of her natural rights and her sister's, sanctioned by the direct expression of her father's last wishes; the recall of Frank from China; the justification of her desertion of Norah -- all hung on her desperate purpose of recovering the lost inheritance, at any risk, from the man who had beggared and insulted his brother's children.
In a tweet, the FM criticised the voices that insist on believing that there is a possibility to resolve the Palestinian issue without Palestinians having the natural right to establish an independent state that has a place within the international community.
In calling Jaffa a medieval defender of the Declaration's classically modern faith, Kesler highlights Jaffa's project of bridging the gaps, and exploring the tectonic foundations that make natural right and practical wisdom virtually synonymous.
What morally portentous fact (or set of facts) about each person do libertarian theorists offer as the basis for ascribing to each person a natural right not to be interfered with in the pursuit of happiness, well-being, rational interests, or life-defining projects?
He hoped in an issued statement that "sectarian quotas would have a certain limit, so they do not affect our natural right that guarantees our representation in the government." "We are a cross-sectarian party and we have a parliamentary bloc and represent a large segment of non-sectarian Lebanese who demand the abolition of sectarianism and the adoption of civil laws in the legislation...and we have maintained the unity of Lebanon, for which we offered hundreds of martyrs and a lot of sacrifices," Nashef went on.
"It is the natural right of a sovereign state for China to station troops and deploy necessary territory defense facilities on the relevant islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands," the Chinese Ministry of Defense said.
China asserted on Wednesday that it has the 'natural right' to build military structures and deploy its troops in the disputed Spratly Islands following growing criticisms on Beijing's apparent militarization of the disputed South China Sea.
A wide variety of terms have been used over the centuries to speak about different aspects of this higher norm or reality--"the Good," "the Beyond," "the transcendent," "the eternal," "God," "the Ground of Being," "universal values," "the Universal," "natural right," "the good, the true, and the beautiful," to mention just a few.
recognition of expressive freedom as a natural right. This
They said India must follow United Nation's resolutions on Kashmir regarding plebiscite and must give them freedom which is their natural right.
Part I documents the Founders' shared understanding that religious liberty is a natural right possessed by all individuals.

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