The conception of ‘Rights’, typically related with individuals is a highly debated subject amongst Historical and (more dominantly) in Modern day political philosophers and very much a part of the broad liberal tradition central to Modern political thought. In generic terms, a right is an entitlement which a person can possess . Aristotle’s (384 BCE- 322 BCE) explanation of the theory is; that by acquiring an entitlement it imposes correlative duties apon others . This aspect of rights is essential to the study of politics which follows the notion of Harold Lasswell’s definition of politics as ‘Who gets What, When and how’ and politics being focused on ‘governing’ in the sense of power . The principle of any right (natural, civil or societal) is established on a standard of control and in theory a ‘right’ is a person exercising power (as by him having a certain right entitlement another person may be legitimately obligated to do something for him/her).
The discipline of Politics centres on the exertion of power, Machiavelli’s (1469- 1527) The Prince created a blueprint on how to attain and then exercise power . Hobbes (1588-1679) explains that the right of nature is that each man has the liberty to use his own power for the preservation of his own nature i.e. to save his life.
Rights are the basis of, and the reason for the theory behind justice, equality and freedom . Rights are classified into three: ‘Natural (human) rights’ which originate from the value that all humans are equal. Then there’s ‘civil rights’, which are essentially the rights of citizens and include political and constitutional rights. Lastly, ‘societal rights’ are the rights of those belonging to particular societies. All three categorisations of rights are essential to the study of politics. We see natural rights plays a central role when studying the viewpoints of various political philosophers and what natural rights they acknowledge relating to their political theory and how they perceive the concept of equality.
For example; Locke (16321704), claimed in his Second Treatise on Government (1689) that the function of government was to protect ‘life, liberty and estate’ , which in a broad sense are universal (natural) rights of man7 (politically, these follow liberal views). Civil and societal rights are pivotal in the study of politics relating to political institutions, as differing ideologies and theories of state mark the diverse interpretations of the practise and theory of rights. For example, Liberal thinkers focus on rights based apon individual freedom (or collective as a state) as John Stuart Mill writes that ‘the state exists so as to guarantee a system of rights that will enable individuals to pursue their moral development’ , whereas the Marxist theory of state pays little attention to the right of equality and focuses on making capitalist production more efficient and is termed as a socialist revolution to the formation of a classless society11. The communist ideology was based apon this theory .
The nature of a right is political and the practise (or non-practise) of a right is equally so, and is thus essential to the study of politics as the governing in government or politics as interactions between individuals unrelated to government . Bibliography Callincos, A. (2017).
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