The Problem with Natural Rights

12 01 2007

With this mention of liberalism, though, we are getting ahead of our story again. Instead, we need first consider still another point that is relevant to the newly emerging natural rights doctrine of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For so far as these doctrines go, one key question remains: granted that Hobbes may have been right, that on the basis of the new scientific conception of nature in general and of human nature in particular, the natural condition of men is one of ceaseless and ever proliferating appetites and desires; and granted that man’s overriding passion is thus one of self-preservation in the gratification of these appetites and desires; still, why should such a natural concern on man’s part be considered as being in any way a “right”?