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Right & Privilege

At the core of a good chunk of the political disputes between libertarians and their conservative sympathizers on the one hand, and progressive leftists and secularists on the other, is the question of rights. What are they? Where do they come from? How are they exercised? How are they protected?

In the classical liberal view, which is also the Catholic view, natural rights are corollaries to natural laws. Our rights to life, liberty, and private property derive from our obligations to preserve our lives and those of our family, to educate our children, and to obey the moral law. These obligations are imposed upon us by God. The modern libertarian has lost sight of the connection between natural law and right, but insofar as he defends natural rights as they are articulated in the Declaration of Independence, which at least acknowledges a “Creator”, he stands in the Christian natural law tradition.

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