Natural Rights Definition

Learn about the concept of natural rights, universal and inalienable rights inherent to every individual. Explore examples, case studies, and the significance of natural rights in society.


Natural rights are fundamental rights that are believed to be inherent to every individual by virtue of their humanity. These rights are considered to be universal, inalienable, and not dependent on any government or authority. They form the basis of many legal and ethical principles around the world.

Origin of Natural Rights

The concept of natural rights can be traced back to ancient philosophy, particularly the works of thinkers like John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. These philosophers argued that certain rights are inherent to human beings regardless of societal structures.

Characteristics of Natural Rights

  • Universal: Natural rights are considered to apply to all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances.
  • Inalienable: These rights cannot be taken away or surrendered, as they are seen as essential to human dignity.
  • Self-evident: Natural rights are believed to be self-evident and do not require external validation.

Examples of Natural Rights

Some common examples of natural rights include the right to life, liberty, and property. These rights are considered essential for individuals to lead fulfilling and autonomous lives.

Case Studies

One notable case study that highlights the importance of natural rights is the American Revolution. The Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson, asserts that individuals are endowed with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Statistics on Natural Rights

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans believe that natural rights are essential to a free and just society. In the survey, 78% of respondents agreed that individuals have innate rights that are not granted by government.


Natural rights play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of ethics, law, and governance. By recognizing and upholding these rights, societies can ensure the protection and dignity of all individuals.

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