Natural Rights

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  • A political theory that maintains that an individual enters into a political or organized society with certain basic rights that no government can deny. These rights are inalienable. They cannot be taken or given away. The idea of natural rights grew out of the social doctrines of the stoics of the first century CE. The most famous formulation of natural rights was pronounced by John Locke, in the 17th century, who believed that humans were inherently rational and carried into political society the same rights that they enjoyed in the natural state.

    Natural law incorporates the belief that people should live their lives and organize their society on the basis of rules and principles handed down by nature or God. According to Locke, the most ...

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