Contrary to Locke, the traditional concept of a right to life, liberty, and property was based on social convention, but this doesn’t mean that popularity in itself could justify a rights-claim to goods and services. Talk of rights has gotten out of hand because people have forgotten that rights are negative and that protecting one person’s right means enforcing another’s duty to respect it.

Max Hocutt is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Alabama.
Civil Liberties and Human RightsCivil RightsFreedomLaw and LibertyPhilosophy and ReligionSocialism, Communism, and Collectivism
Other Independent Review articles by Max Hocutt
Fall 2013 The Fruits and Fallacies of Fred Skinner on Freedom
Winter 2007/08 In Defense of Herbert Spencer
Summer 2005 Sunstein on Rights
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