The Concept of Rights

It had not always been felt throughout history that all human beings are entitled to rights (and recognition). Kings and religious Clergy/Priests for instance in many societies have had more rights than commoners. But the with the onset of early classical liberalism there had been a demand raised for equal rights and recognition on the basis that all men are born equal particularly by the newly rich trading bourgeois who felt that while they had the same wealth as feudal lords and princes they did not have the same legal and social power. Later socialism added it’s own interpretation to the concept of rights and recognition who were followed by the Positive Liberals in the early part of the twentieth century. By the middle of that century the concept of rights was well accepted and fairly universally excepting in the cases some special countries like South Africa and some Islamic states like Saudi Arabia in the Middle East where women have till today been not granted the status of full human beings both in theory and practice. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 cemented the legitimacy of rights forever in a way.

Each school of thought defined rights and recognition in it’s own way. The central question or theme on the basis of which views have differed has been on what basis rights and recognition should be given to the individual? . Over three hundred or so years in the development of the concept since the birth of liberalism different theories have been propounded which have based their justification for rights (and recognition) on different bases. The main theories of rights have been:

  1. Theory of Natural Rights
  2. Theory of Legal Rights
  3. Historical Theory of Rights
  4. Idealist/Moral Theory of Rights
  5. Social Welfare Theory of Right
  6. Recent Liberal Theory of Rights 7.Marxist Theory of Rights.

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