The Concept of Natural Rights: A Philosophical Reflection
The concept of natural rights presupposes the notions of nature and right. In addition, it implies the terms “duties”, “obligations”, and “inalienable rights” or “absolute rights”, “natural law”, “human rights”, and “legal rights”. An understanding of the ideas of right and nature will promote a better understanding of the notion of natural rights. The concept of natural rights is controversial. The debate essentially concerns whether natural rights exist and are inalienable or absolute, whether if they exist, they can not be violated or withdrawn. This paper is intended to contribute to this debate. In doing so, we will discuss the definitions and, or, conceptions of nature, right, and natural rights as well as egalitarian and non-egalitarian conceptions of natural rights. The questions which the papers will treat include the following: Are natural rights alienable or inalienable? Are they egalitarian or non-egalitarian? Is the conventionalist position that each society determines the just things tenable? Whether acceptable or not, what are the implications of the position for the claim that certain rights are
inalienable? The paper will show under which conditions natural rights may be alienable or inalienable. It recognizes the possibility of societal determination of just things. However, it argues that this possibility should not be used as a basis for rejecting natural or inalienable rights. The paper maintains that societal determination of just things is compatible with the inalienability of certain rights.
Keywords: Philosophy, Reflection, Concept, Nature, Rights, Duties.