Men speak of natural rights, but I challenge any one to show where in nature any rights existed or were recognized until there was established for their declaration and protection a duly promulgated body of corresponding laws.
All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. We balance inconveniences; we give and take; we remit some rights, that we may enjoy others; and we choose rather to be happy citizens than subtle disputants.
One of the most remarkable — and popular — ways of seeming to argue without actually producing any arguments is to say that some individual or group has a ‘right’ to something that you want them to have.
Those who campaign for animal liberation have confused the issue unnecessarily by borrowing human terminology. While the proletarian condition can be abolished and women can cease to be chattels and whole races can throw off slavery, there is no means of freeing animals from the condition of being beasts. For all I know, that is just as well.
Political, social, and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common law, in its eternal youth, grows to meet the demands of society . . .Now the right to life has come to mean the right to enjoy life, — the right to be let alone; the right to liberty secures the exercise of extensive civil privileges; and the term property” has grown to comprise every form of possession — intangible, as well as tangible.
Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right. . .and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean of the characters and conduct of their rulers.
– John Adams (1735-1826) A Dissertation on the Canon and Federal Law
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Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. . .Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.
No one talks more passionately about his rights than he who in the depths of his soul doubts whether he has any. By enlisting passion on his side he wants to stifle his reason and its doubts: thus he will acquire a good conscience and with it success among his fellow men.