Rights, Theories of

Some advocates of libertarianism do not accord to individual rights a fundamental or even central role in justifying libertarian positions. Examples include Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and David Friedman. Nonetheless, libertarianism is generally understood as the political expression of the idea that individuals have a basic, negative, moral right to liberty. Right is used here to refer to a claim or entitlement that individuals have on how others should treat them. These rights are “moral” in the sense that they direct that men should be accorded this treatment, not that it necessarily is accorded to them. Negative refers to the fact that persons are prohibited from initiating, or threatening to initiate, physical force in any or all of its forms against other persons. ...

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