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4 Examples of Natural Rights

Natural rights are freedoms and entitlements that are universal and inalienable such that they can't be denied by laws nor can they be bought and sold. The following are common examples.

Human Rights

Natural rights are more or less synonymous with human rights. These recognize the dignity of all people with equal rights that provide a foundation for freedom, justice and civility.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
~ United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Inalienable Rights

Inalienable rights, or unalienable rights, are rights that can't be given up by an individual or denied by laws. For example, an employment contract that effectively makes someone a slave wouldn't be allowed in a nation that grants inalienable rights. Laws may limit inalienable rights only where they are designed to protect other inalienable rights. An individual may have an inalienable right to freedom of movement but this doesn't mean you can't make a law to restrict driving speeds to protect the right to life.

Negative Rights

A negative right is a right not to be subject to an action. This is essentially a freedom. For example, the right not to be detained or imprisoned without due process of law. The following are common freedoms referenced in the constitutions of nations and similar documents.
Freedom from Unreasonable Search or Seizure
Freedom of Association
Freedom of Conscience & Religion
Freedom of Movement
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Thought
Freedom of the Press
Integrity of the Person
Parental Rights
Right to Liberty
Right to Life
Right to Marriage
Right to Privacy
The rights above are defined here. The list above is not exhaustive.

Positive Rights

Positive rights are entitlements owned to an individual by a society. The following are common examples that could arguably be natural rights.
Freedom of Information (transparent government)
Right of Defence (legal defence)
Right to Education
Right to Health
Right to Petition (the government)
Right to Police Protection
Right to Vote
Rights of Children (right to protections and opportunities in childhood)


Postmodernists embrace the doctrine of relativism that claims there are no universal truths. This would deny the existence of natural rights such as human rights in favor of cultural or individual interpretations. For example, an individual that can grant themselves rights they have invented and try to enforce this in their dealings with society. This may seem terribly unworkable but postmodernists may firmly believe that all universal truths are simply tools of control that are "imposed" by a culture or system.
Overview: Natural Rights
Freedoms and entitlements that are universal and inalienable such that they can't be denied by laws nor can they be bought and sold.
Related Concepts

Natural Rights

This is the complete list of articles we have written about natural rights.
Cultural Rights
Economic Freedoms
Economic Rights
Human Rights
Natural Rights
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Arslan, Zühtü. "Taking rights less seriously: Postmodernism and human rights." Res Publica 5.2 (1999): 195-215.
Gaete, Rolando. "Postmodernism and human rights: Some insidious questions." Law and Critique 2.2 (1991): 149-170.


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