The Nature of Rights
A Theoretical and Historical Overview
It is often said that the United States is the home of individual liberty and rights. But what is a “right”? What does it mean to say that someone has a “right,” or that her “rights” have been violated? This chapter shows that there are many possible answers to these questions, and that the widely accepted answers have changed substantially over the course of American history. But at the same time, today among the American people it seems that there is a fairly wide consensus about what constitutes a “right,”and what it means to have rights. The American people know what individual rights are, they know that the Constitution gives them rights, and they know that those rights cannot be taken away from them. The problem is that this consensus is fundamentally wrong.
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