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Individual Rights

Individual rights provide moral protection for individuals against unchosen and characteristically harmful incursions carried out by other individuals or groups. Rights are normative signposts that tell us that such incursions are morally impermissible, that groups or individuals that engage in such incursions act wrongfully, and that such wrongful incursions may rightfully be suppressed. Individual rights are often described as moral fences or boundaries. An individual's rights specify the domain over which he rightfully exercises control; if others intrude on that domain, they trespass on him. As John Locke put it in Two Treatises of Government, rights allow individuals “to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit… without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.” ...

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