what is a right?


In this post, the Un one, asks what is a right and posits that

Many people believe (or would like to believe) that humans are born with “inalienable rights,” which are rights which can’t be taken away. And yet, very clearly, there are no such rights in any practical and real sense.

If you believe in such rights, where do you think they come from? Who bestows the or how are they bestowed? And most importantly, who or what is ready to guarantee them?

To answer the question what is a right? I refer to Staphanie’s work, the right to have rights, where she writes

When a person holds a right, they are entitled to a specific good or experience. They have a claim to a tangible object or objective: to health care, to shelter, to an attorney, to remain silent.

In short, a right is a claim.

I think rights are inane. States can only guarantee them, but not give us rights. It is not for the state to give rights, but only to offer protection of said rights. Take for example the right to life- states don’t give this right, they only enforce it.

So I disagree somewhat with this

I’m using the word “legislated” to represent a wider concept of a commitment made by a legitimate entity empowered to create rights and with the wherewithal to enforce those rights in case they are abridged.

because these legislative bodies don’t create rights but only provide grounds for their enforcement. The Bill of Rights doesn’t create rights, only recognizes them and vests the state with the responsibility of ensuring individuals can enjoy those rights.

Chapter 4 of the constitution of Kenya, for example has this on fundamental rights and freedoms

(3) The rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights —

(a) belong to each individual and are not granted by the State;
(b) do not exclude other rights and fundamental freedoms not in the Bill of Rights, but recognised or conferred by law, except to the extent that they are inconsistent with this Chapter; and
(c) are subject only to the limitations contemplated in this Constitution.

What do you think?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

14 thoughts on “what is a right?

  1. Seven Shakur says:

    I believe that colored people do not have rights and if colored people do have rights the rights are not made known to us (colored people) or work in our favor. I do not believe “rights” are meant to help us because we are not granted the same “rights” as some other group of people. Rights never seem to work in colored peoples favor.

    Like

  2. Eric Alagan says:

    Everyone who is born enjoys one “right” – the “right” to die to this world.

    Like

  3. What is a right? Well, like the late, great Carl Sagan once said to his 1st grade teacher, Betsy Bouncybooty, “Betsy, a right is all that is not a left.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think rights are inane. States can only guarantee them, but not give us rights. It is not for the state to give rights, but only to offer protection of said rights. Take for example the right to life- states don’t give this right, they only enforce it.

    Completely agree.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. shelldigger says:

    A right is a common desire for equal and fair treatment I think, transferred to an agreement of state/country and enforced to some degree. Is it a tangible thing? I’m not really sure. I just know as humans we all share that desire for fair and equal treatment. Do we always get that? No. Even if guaranteed by state/country do we always the enforcement we feel we deserve? No.

    Where was I going with this? Anyone? I just ran out of track and am quietly cussing Mak. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Someone would argue there are those who don’t desire fair & equal treatment for the other. And they are quite a number. So rights should be treated not just as desire but claims to a specific course of action.

      Like

  6. Atul Depak says:

    Well written. State only can guarantee Fundamental right. It for people to claim and keep it and not let it go easily

    Like

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