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Individual Rights Versus Public Order Essay

1713 words - 7 pages

Rights are not simply political doctrine, but they are values that structure the connection between individual beliefs and political beliefs. Consequently, expressions of individual rights have on numerous occasions resulted in public disorder and chaos due to opposing beliefs or opinions clashing against one another. America has deliberated the benefits and drawbacks of "free expression," or individual rights, and public order. Can both exist at the same time, or does a person have to choose a side?Rights are moral principles sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. To live rationally by one's reason in society, man needs only one thing from his fellow men: freedom of action. He requires rights to those actions necessary to support his own life; the most fundamental right being the right to life, from which all other rights, including the right to liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness derive. Rights are not merely political principles, but they are principles that form the bridge between individual morality and the moral principles governing society. Rights say that morally certain actions are right, and all other actions that forcibly interfere with those actions are wrong.Only one fundamental right exists, the right to life, in which all other rights, including the right to liberty, the right to property and the right to pursue one's own happiness originate. These rights are not competing and contradictory with the right to life. These rights are consequences of the right to life; they do not contradict the right to life, or each other, but form a single integrated whole. All other rights are simply the right to life applied to different contexts. All rights are rights to freedom of action. That is, the right to those actions necessary to support ones life - so long as they do not violate the rights of others. Keep in mind that rights are not guarantees that those actions will always be successful.Thus, the right to pursue happiness does not necessarily mean achievement; it only means one is free to pursue what one thinks will make one happy. Pursuit does not mean attainment, moreover a necessary precondition to attaining it. Similarly the right to life is the right to take those actions necessary to survive, free from the physical compulsion and interference of other men. The right to life does not mean that one can force others to support ones life against his or her own will. What rights do guarantee is that if actions are successful, no one may alter the results of those actions.One of the disadvantages of individual rights is that when laws put too much emphasis on individual rights they tend to neglect more important things such as the welfare of the community. People have the right to pursue their own interest despite the existence of unfulfilled needs somewhere on earth or even across the street. To say that people have the right to pursue their own happiness implies that they have no obligation to pay...

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