Rights, Natural

Natural rights are rights that individuals possess by nature rather than by law or convention. Rights belonging to all human beings universally also are termed human rights, a phrase often interchangeable with natural rights. Many political and legal theorists claim that individuals have such rights against other individuals and against the state. Libertarians appeal to natural rights to argue that the power of government should be strictly limited, and anarchists contend that the very existence of the state is inimical to individual natural rights. Such theorists have the burden of demonstrating that individuals, in fact, have natural rights and of explaining what precisely they have rights to.

Jurists as well as political philosophers have made important contributions to the understanding of natural rights. In the law, ...

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