Rights: Founding Fathers and Ayn Rand

To all you libertarians who don’t believe in natural rights- what say you?

American Individual

What America’s Founding Fathers recognized and other societies did not is the principle of the individual’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as being the moral foundation of a free society.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

“Inalienable” has the same meaning as “Unalienable,” the term used by the Founding Fathers.  Oxford Dictionaries Online defines inalienable as “unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor.”

In the following excerpt, Ayn Rand eloquently defines “rights” and explains that all rights stem from man’s right to his own life.

“‘Rights’ are a moral concept…

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3 responses to “Rights: Founding Fathers and Ayn Rand

  1. Thank you for reblogging my post! I can certainly use the help generating traffic as my blog is only a few weeks old. Please do visit often, and feel free to comment.

    Regarding natural rights – I’ve observed that some who use the term “natural rights,” really mean “super-natural rights.” In other words, rights are granted to man by some supernatural thing. This would be in opposition to acknowledging nature as being reality, and recognizing man’s nature as being the condition that leads to his requirement of rights in order to exist in a social context. As when Ayn Rand says, “A is A– and man is man.” – the law of identity.

    “The law of identity does not permit you to have your cake and eat it, too. The law of causality does not permit you to eat your cake before you have it. . . .

    “The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature.”
    – Ayn Rand quote copied from: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/identity.html

    • You’re welcome! I want to support my fellow Objectivists.

      I guess the term “natural rights” has been tainted, and yes, many people do mean it as “supernaturally given rights”, but that’s not how I mean it. Perhaps I should stop using it if that’s the case.
      I mean to say that “natural” means nature, nature is objective reality, and we are born with “natural” (objective) rights by virtue of being born and the only condition is that we are human beings.
      Am I wrong? Should I use a different term?

  2. I am by no means an expert on Objectivism. I’ve been studying it intensively for the last four or five months, and I make a point not to espouse misinformation about it. There is plenty of bad info out there to weed through as it is. Let that be my disclaimer. However, I believe I have a pretty strong grasp on what I do understand up to this point, and those are the topics I speak up on or blog about. I’m still learning.

    I wouldn’t consider this one of my strongest aspects of Objectivism knowledge, but I’ll share it with you here with the expectation that you’ll do further research; which I’m sure you would anyway.

    My understanding is that it is wrong to consider that we are born with natural rights. I think you correctly identified them as being objective rights. However man is not born with rights because rights are a concept. Man is born with certain attributes and characteristics that determine his (or her) identity. Rights are not an attribute, but a concept. As one applies the method of logic via the faculty of reason, one can therefore integrate facts of reality from the sensory and perceptual levels of awareness into a higher level concept of rights. To say that one is born with natural rights therefore is to say that one is born with a higher level concept which is not possible.

    I think that to term them “natural rights” is considered incorrect. With my currently limited understanding, I personally don’t see the harm in it as long as the person using it is consciously meaning that this is the concept which his or her rational thought integrated from recognizing the nature of man and his requirements in order to exist in a social context.

    I hope that helps. I know that there was an article in The Objective Standard publication about the Ayn Rand’s theory of rights, and it covered that topic pretty thoroughly. If you’re interested I’m sure you could locate it with an internet search.

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