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At least I think the question goes here

  1. Jul 12, 2010 #1
    At least I think the question goes here....

    I was reading about Thomas Paine, and something caught my eye...
    What did Thomas Paine mean, by Natural rights? What are these rights?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_of_Man" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2010 #2


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    Re: At least I think the question goes here....

    I disagree with Paine so the closest answer I can give you is:

    whatever society (including politicians and the guy that's holding a gun to your head to rob you for your money) decides they are. Put more intelligently by somebody else:

  4. Jul 13, 2010 #3
    Re: At least I think the question goes here....

    I'm not sure, but he may have been talking about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" which Jefferson described as "unalienable rights" "endowed by their creator". The idea of natural rights was not exactly new at the time, but gained prominence in the american revolution and was popularized worldwide in no small part by Mr Jefferson's poetic choice of words. To this day many other countries use the exact same phrase in their own constitutions.
  5. Jul 13, 2010 #4
    Re: At least I think the question goes here....

    If you then remove God, humans suddenly lose their rights? I know Thomas Paine wasn't the most religious man of his time.
  6. Jul 13, 2010 #5
    Re: At least I think the question goes here....

    No he wasn't, but like today the vast majority of Americans were and that was his audience.

    I suppose you could argue that "supernatural rights" is a better term if they are handed down from on high, however, it is the context of its traditional juxtaposition with the "synthetic" (ie-manmade) that gives the term "natural rights" its meaning.

    Hence Jefferson began his statement with: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Obviously some of us are born in better health than others and in other ways not exactly created equal, but the assertion is that what is self-evident is that we are all equally human. This is in stark contrast to the then common belief at the time that monarchs were not merely human, but at least partially divine, as well as to the common idea that some races were subhuman.
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