Natural rights

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Rights that are assumed to be available to everybody, for no other reason that they are people. Thus natural rights and human rights tend to cohere conceptually speaking (at least in theory). These days we tend to use the term 'human rights'; however, 'natural rights' has a more transcendental feel about it. To have 'natural rights' gives the impression that these rights are inaliable, and derive from some higher power than humanity. 'Human rights', on the other hand, gives the impression of rights that people have decided to defend on each other's behalf. Many supporters of Natural law jurisprudence would support the notion of natural rights, although the term itself isn't widely used any more. Jeremy Bentham described natural rights as 'nonsense on stilts'. Often to avoid these controversies contemporary scholars speak of "rights discourse".


External Links:

  • Eric Allen Engle: Lex Naturalis, Ius Naturalis: Law as Positive Reasoning and Natural Rationality. Elias Clark, Melbourne 2010, ISBN 978-0-980-73184-2 (Google Books).