The Concept of Rights - Essay Example

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The Concept of Rights

By "property" he means "life, liberty, and estate". The philosopher begins by asserting that each individual, at a minimum, "owns" himself, because he is free and equal in the state of nature.
In the Second Treatise, Locke espoused the idea of government by consent (representative government). Since there is no natural hierarchy among human beings, any subordination of one to another must be conventional. This convent is called the social contract. In this way, Locke argues that a full economic system could, in principle, exist within the state of nature. Property could therefore predate the existence of government, and thus society can be dedicated to the protection of property. When one joins civil society, however, one joins one's property to it to be regulated by the community. As a practical matter, in every society, a part must rule the whole. As the majority is composed of more wills and is stronger than the minority, the will of society must be determined by the majority. This makes liberal democracy a moral imperative. At a minimum, the majority must support the regime in power; in practice, this support can be demonstrated only by including something like a Parliament in the government. It must be said that the people rule themselves. ...Show more

Summary

If one tries to compare the concept of "rights" in works by John Locke, in "The Declaration of Independence", and in "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen", one could see that these works have much in common: to put it more precisely, these works contain similar concepts of "rights" adapted for the existing economic, social and political conditions.
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