Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rights versus Duties

People often misuse the term "rights."
Many people, even political parties and governmental or nongovernmental organizations, advocate for individuals to have an assortment of rights other than the commonly held right to life, liberty and property. In philosophical jargon those three are considered negative rights. Yes, you have a right to those three, but no one is required to provide you with anything. That's different from the photo above which implies that the right to an education can be legislated. This means that someone has a duty or obligation to provide it. This is a positive right. In the libertarian tradition, negative rights are the rights that governments should be protecting.
Of course there is nothing wrong with someone volunteering to provide an education to those unable to obtain one. This idea of voluntary charity is a virtue that most libertarians would support. The idea of providing positive rights to individuals usually involves infringing on the rights of those who must provide the rights.
Here is an explanation of that view of Positive vs. Negative Rights:


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