Human rights and natural law

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Human Rights

The fight for human rights began over and above 2500 years ago but became forthright close to six decades ago; roughly around 1945 prior to the formation of the United Nations. Despite the fact that human rights happen to be a notion of the twentieth century, it still happens to be an emblem of the culmination of the Western natural law and the metamorphosis that took place then (Maritain, 2012). Human rights typically refer to the entitlements that are granted to an individual. Rights, however, ought to comply with the law and should utterly contravene the felonious standards of character.

There are two predominant ideologies pertaining to human rights. First, is the interesting hypothesis that alleges that human rights ought to safeguard specific interests that regard the human beings. Secondly, is the will statement that suggests that there ought to be establishments on the legitimacy of human rights on the grounds of the singular human ability of liberation (Freeman, 2017). As aforementioned, human rights are a result of natural law with reference to many philosophical allegations. Withal, Hume argues that human rights systemize the ethical behavior which happens to be established through the social and biological transition. Weber too asserts that human rights are a sociological model that concerns the implementation of rules and regulations (Freeman, 2017). Alternatively, Rawls has a differing assertion that persons often consent to certain set regulations stemming from permissible bodies if only they are granted an upper hand in matters concerning security and the economy.

There happens to be the proposition of value and property in human rights. Various individuals the likes of John Locke, Henry of Ghent, and Karl Max came up with individual viewpoints on the issue of proprietorship. Henry of Ghent, to start with, perceives that all and sundry have property concerns in their personal bodies. John Locke, on the other hand, views the matter from both a vast and limited sense. Property from a broad connotation envelopes humanity’s ambitions and interests (Maritain, 2012). Subsequently, in the narrow sense, it signifies the essence of material affluence. In the general run of things, property happens to be an inherent right and is obtainable through exerting efforts. Luke further avers that the governments ought not to utilize their sovereignty to forcefully acquire peoples’ property as that is an infraction of the law relating to citizens. Communistic and capitalistic nations tend to breach the fundamental laws that govern the people. Surprisingly, there were criticisms of the various ideologies. An example is elucidated in Karl Max’s “Theory of Surplus Value” where he openly disagrees with Locke’s frame of reference concerning proprietorship (Maritain, 2012). There were myriad theories concerning human rights in various contexts of the society. The Soviets had their assertions, Edmund Burke had his, and others were namely: Jeremy Bentham, Marxist, Alasdair Maclyntyre, and so many others.

Natural Law

Natural law, which is philosophical, alludes to the fact that human beings are granted particular rights for the mere fact of being human. The two terminologies, natural law, and natural rights are predominantly coupled and intertwined as they both suggest of the prerogatives accorded to the human (Wright, 2017). Natural law is connoted in diversified manners by the different philosophers and doctrines which are, viz.: The Stoic Natural law, Christianity, Cicero, English and American jurisprudence, assertions by Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, the Liberal and Islamic Natural Laws among many other postulations.

The intrinsic idea of natural law has grounds on discerning categorically what is perceived to be right or wrong. Various philosophers including John Locke and Hobbes emphasize that man is accorded fundamental rights for being of human nature devoid of any supernatural capability whereas Hugo Grotius is of the viewpoint that humans tend to do things out of “right reasons” (Maritain, 2012). Equality is also a factor stamped in the natural law that regards no privilege to a human being to the detriment of another. Natural law philosophers further perceive rights to be all-inclusive as well as absolute.

There happens to be a variety of sources that suggest the genesis of natural law. Christianity, for instance, asserts that God instituted natural Law and He happens to have inscribed the law in the intricate existence of man and nature. For that reason, moral law does not necessitate additional disclosure aside from nature’s intrinsic law which has regards for the man (Wright, 2017). Other assertions convey that natural law can be either spoken or an unmitigated depiction of power.

Natural law has candidly accomplished many intended goals in the former years. It has gradually called for a somewhat loftier purpose than the positive law. It has also been the chief tool in the Roman transition from an ancient civil law to the novice and vast cosmopolitan system (Wright, 2017). It has theoretically been an instrument of substantiality in the battle involving the German emperors as well as the church of the Dark Ages. Additionally, its essence ascertains the legitimacy of the international laws as well as objects any revolt made against the inalienable rights accorded to the individual. The natural law, therefore, offers support to various phenomena.

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  1. Maritain, J. (2012). Christianity and Democracy, the Rights of Man and Natural Law. Ignatius Press.
  2. Freeman, M. (2017). Human rights. John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Wright, B. F. (2017). American Interpretations of Natural Law: A Study in the History of Political Thought. Routledge.
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