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.
recognition of expressive freedom as a natural right.
Just government, accordingly, must be instituted via the consent of the governed, and if an individual is born into an existing social compact, he or she has a natural right to emigrate.
Part I documents the Founders' shared understanding that religious liberty is a natural right possessed by all individuals.
It is, therefore, more saddening that the Labour Party in Wales is all too willing to exploit its political hegemony in Wales and by so doing stifle her natural right for greater freedom and the right to profit from its resources: in other words, the Labour Party is quite content to put party before the needs and aspirations of Wales.
Among the topics are Islam and Islamic natural law, the role of natural law and natural right in the search for a universal ethic, ecocide and Christian natural law, natural law as a source of inspiration, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh: toward an epideictic rhetoric of natural law, the political common good: from the nation-state to a global perspective, natural law as a "work of reason:" understanding the metaphysics of participated theonomy, and pragmatic and christological foundations of natural law.
In response on a question about the independence, Barzani said, "that independence is a natural right of the people of Kurdistan that Kurds are to decide their own destiny.
And I'm not a natural right winger and he's not a natural right back.
Our right to keep and bear arms is a Natural Right, Napolitano writes, but beginning with the National Firearms Act of 1934, and continuing into 2013, Progressives in government repeatedly have tried to disarm the nation's individuals and seize more power for government.
Thus, by virtue of being human, a person at least has a natural right not to be physically harmed by other people.
Both Voegelin and Strauss carefully analyzed and rejected the fact-value approach of modern political "science"; Strauss for its rejection of natural right that led, he argued, to nihilism, and Voegelin for its rejection of our ability to know truth in the use of such terms as "value judgments.
While I agree with much of what she writes, I disagree with her about free speech being the most important natural right.

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