What Makes a RIGHT a RIGHT?


…and by that I mean a RIGHT as an ENTITLEMENT, as opposed to a WRONG or a LEFT.
I learned this in college, in an excellent class called Political Philosophy. As much as I would love to mention the professor’s name, I don’t have his permission to do so.
One of the most memorable concepts that came from that class was our discussion on developing a theory of rights.  A theory of rights must do four things to be a full theory.
1: give a name to the right being defined
2: Identify who has that right
3: Identify by what virtue or value the group in #2 has that right, and
4: Identify the responsibilities placed on others as a result of the group in #2 having that right.
This is going to be an excellent exercise for many of you who think you have rights but others think you don’t. You need to be able to articulate WHY you have that right and WHAT IT CAUSES OTHERS to have to do or not do.   One example is the Bill of Rights enumerations. We have the right to, for example, assembly (#1).  WE THE PEOPLE OF THESE UNITED STATES have that right (#2). We have that right as an unalienable human right granted by our Creator (#3). You may have to dig beyond the Constitution to support that, I can’t remember which document I read that tied that right back to the Declaration. And for #4, the responsibility placed on others is to step back and let us assemble, to not interfere with our assembly.
An additional ideal in a theory of rights is the understanding that one person or group having a right must never infringe on any other rights of any other person or group.  So our right to assemble peaceably must not infringe on the right of any other group to assemble peaceably, or to do any other things that we as a society acknowledge as being rights.The claim of a “right to healthcare” fails to identify #4 to my satisfaction.  However, I will entertain any and all attempts to do so.

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