Where Do Rights Come From?

We in America routinely invoke our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But where do our rights come from? Here I overview the main false theories of rights before briefly summarizing the theory of natural rights as articulated most forcefully by Ayn Rand. (See Rand’s essay, “Man’s Rights.”)

Ben July 13, 2010 at 5:44 PM
I give the Declaration a little more credit. Though “Creator” was capitalized, I don’t take it to mean “God.” It means (to me) whomever/whatever created you – “God,” nature, or Papa Smurf. I suspect that’s why “Creator” was chosen instead of “God.”

I agree that Rand did a nice job of explaining rights and why we have them.

Ari July 13, 2010 at 10:01 PM
Well, as I note, the Declaration also invokes natural law. Specifically it refers to “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” Obviously, it is possible to believe that God created the natural order, and that that natural order gives rise to human rights. It is also possible to believe that our rights come from God’s declarations on the matter, which is the viewpoint I was briefly arguing against. (But it’s a very short speech that left little time for many of the complexities of the debate.

Brad Williams July 16, 2010 at 9:17 AM