Monday, 17 November 2003


An edition of the Harry Browne radio show from the United States has made me ponder over the past few weeks.

In a political sense, the major 'types' of rights are civil rights, natural rights and human rights. The concept of natural rights dates back to the English philosopher John Locke, who in the 17th century stated that humans possess the natural rights to life, liberty and property. In the 18th century, the founding fathers of the United States of America extended this theory by stating that humans had the 'inalienable' rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness granted by the 'Creator'.

I really cannot see how rights exist within nature. Ultimately rights are simply the invention of man and exist ONLY within the sphere of man. Does a lion who kills cubs respect the cubs' right to life or liberty? Does a male chimpanzee who rapes a female chimpanzee respect his victim's right to liberty? No. Animals simply lack the 'intelligence' or awareness to create concepts of rights. Humans, evidently, do not.

We create concepts of rights as we feel we need them. But in the end, rights can only exist within the minds of human beings. In my viewpoint, they do not have any apparent natural basis.