Natural Rights Theory

1950 Words8 Pages
This paper analyses the development of natural rights theories as well as examines why some philosophers such as Karl Marx and Jeremy Bentham criticised the concept. It concludes by arguing that while natural rights theories have their own shortcomings, the theories have nevertheless contributed immensely to political and social studies.

1. Introduction
One of the most contested debates that have preoccupied political and social scientists is the historical literature on the development of natural rights theories as well as their application. Those in support of the theory such as Jefferson (1776), argue that all human beings should relate on an equal footing and must enjoy certain undeniable rights which no one can take away.

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2. Understanding the Concept on Rights
As Birshan (1998) rightly put in his article titled “What is Natural about Natural Rights?” it is critical for one to first understand the principle of rights before one can support either of the divergent views on natural rights theories. A full appreciation of the concept on rights will enable one to meaningfully contribute to the whole discourse on natural rights theories.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948 the concept of rights is generally defined as basic entitlements or freedom a human being should have. In essence, rights are a necessity to ensure that human beings co-exist peacefully together, and it is critical for all human authorities, particularly governments to respect and guarantee such rights to promote sustainable
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In this sense, Smith (2012) argues that the issue of natural rights theory has been successfully employed by many to justify resistance to unjust laws and revolution against tyrannical governments.

The second part of the theory of the natural rights theories has more to do with special rights such as non-consensual and consensual special rights. For example, consensual special rights refer to those rights that every individual has to enter into an agreement or arrangement with another as long as the two assent to that agreement or arrangement. This agreement could be between employee and employer.

On the other hand, non-consensual special rights are rights that arise out of an unchosen relationship that do not need any party to consent to such an association. A typical example of this relationship is between parents and their offspring as none of them choose to the other. However, as a parent, one is expected to provide certain rights to their children such as the right to food, education and

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