• In the news

  • The Left is right
    Hindustan Times, India -
    The Left’s reservations over the appointment of multinational agencies like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the consultancy firm McKinsey in the ...
  • Wear the right gear
    Shepparton News, Australia -
    ValleySport executive officer Peter Bourke is reminding walkers to wear the correct clothing to ensure their walks are fun and relaxed and to prevent any pain ...
  • England on the right path
    The Statesman, India -
    If test cricket were the only yardstick, and it is certainly the main one, 2004 has produced a vintage season in England and Wales, among the best halfdozen ...
  • A-Rod's right: Showalter deserves accolade
    Dallas Morning News (subscription), TX -
    ... where it is? He has let some really good pitches go by while he appeared to be looking into right field or someplace else. If he ...
  • SC affirms right to info, quashes Rly's punitive order
    Times of India, India -
    NEW DELHI: In the first-ever judgment relating to the right to information, the Supreme Court has quashed a railway ministry order punishing an officer with ...
For the direction right, see left and right or starboard.

At its most fundamental, a right is a claim, on other persons, that is acknowledged and reciprocated among the principals associated with that claim. The most basic of rights is a principle of interaction between people which amounts to the simplest version of the "golden rule" (do nothing unto others as you would have them do nothing unto you). In other words, it is the principle involved in a person's insistence on his being left alone, with an implied obligation to leave others alone in turn.

Other than that, an entity (person or group) can make any sort of claim on other persons, but those claims remain simple assertions until the other persons acknowledge that claim as binding upon them. At that point, the claim becomes a privilege (a one-sided acknowledged claim). If all parties (including the originating claimant) also agree to reciprocate acknowledgement of such a claim, it becomes applicable to all, that is, applicable to everyone in the same sense and at the same time, and thus a right.

On that basis, additional structures [of social interaction] can be erected. The most fundamental sorts of rights are negative rights -- rights that require only that everyone refrain from certain actions, not that anyone actively perform any action. An example of a negative right is the right not to be assaulted. In order for you to enjoy such a right, all that is necessary is that other people not assault you.

A libertarian approach might be to invoke conventions of arbitration where disagreements or uncertainty arose with respect to rights. This could be considered the natural or contractual basis for rights, such that no formal third party is necessary for a right to exist. (A third party may be necessary, or desirable, to protect rights, but no third party dispenses rights because rights cannot be dispensed.)

A statist or authoritarian approach would rest on the assumption that rights exist only if they are dispensed by an authoritative body.

A libertarian view of the infringement of rights might be that the person who assaults, steals, cheats, etc., is repudiating those particular rights. By claiming them for him/herself without acknowleging that other people are due the same consideration s/he is attempting to turn a right into a privilege. As other people close ranks (continuing to offer acknowledgement to those who reciprocate), they can declare the repudiator to be outlaw or vermin.

A statist or authoritarian view of the infringement of rights might be that the person who assaults, steals, cheats, etc., is offending against the grantor of rights -- the king or the State -- by breaking its rules/laws. The option to deal with the repudiator is entirely controlled by the authority as the offence is against the authority and not, technically, against the victim.

While the remainder of this article concentrates on a more statist or authoritarian approach -- centering around legal rights -- much of the discussion is still of general value. For the political trend or ideology, see Right wing.

In jurisprudence and law, a right is the legal or moral entitlement to do or refrain from doing something or to obtain or refrain from obtaining an action, thing or recognition in civil society. Compare with privilege.

Generally speaking a right corresponds with a complementary obligation that others have on the same object or realm; for instance if someone has a right on a thing, simultaneously another party or parties have an obligation to do something (or to abstain from doing something) in order to respect that right or to give concrete execution to that right. Property rights provide a good example: society recognizes that individuals have title to particular property as defined by the transaction by which they acquired the property granting the individual free use and possession of the property. In many cases, especially regarding ideological and similar rights, the obligation depends on the legal system in its entirety, or on the state, or on the generical universality of other subjects submitted to the law.

The right can therefore be a faculty of doing something, of omitting or refusing to do something or of claiming something. Some interpretations express a typical form of right in the faculty of using something, and this is more often related to the right of property. The faculty (in all the above mentioned senses) can be originated by a (generical or specific) law, or by a private contract (which is sometimes exactly defined as a specific law between or among volunteer parties).

Other interpretations consider the right as a sort of freedom of something or as the object of justice. One of the definitions of justice is in fact the obligation that the legal system has toward the individual or toward the collectivity to grant respect or execution to his/her/its right, ordinarily with no need of explicit claim.

Rights can be divided into individual rights, that are held by citizens as individuals (or corporations) recognised by the legal system, and into collective rights, held by an ensemble of citizens or a subgroup of citizens whose actions are regulated by the same system. There is a tension between individual and collective rights.

With reference to the object of the right, a common general distinction is among:

  • intellectual rights, which include:
(see also: negative rights)

  • real rights (from the Latin word "res", thing), which include:
(see also: positive rights, exclusive rights)

please complete list with generally shared elements Particular systems can (or could in the past) include special rights like:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948 the United Nations made the above declaration[1], which was an over-arching set of standards by which Governments, organisations and individuals would measure their behaviour towards each other.

This Declaration introduced the notion in the public realm that rights had a moral dimension, independent of and overriding where relevant the legislature or government which granted specific legal rights. The notion was not new, e. g. Thomas Paine had argued in this way in his book The Rights of Man. However, the ideas that rights were ever something to be "granted" by governments, let alone that the UN's declaration was not tragically flawed, have been challenged many times by individualists and others, as in this example here.

Other general Declarations have followed, notably the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989[1].

See also: Jurisprudence, Law, Animal rights, Bill of rights, Human rights, Individual rights, Freedom, Freedom of religion, Freedom of speech, Freedom of the press, Social contract

External links