What Do We Mean By Human Rights?

(Answers to this question show the tragedy of a late 20th century education.)

Necessary (Correct) Definitions:

  • Right: a contractual obligation by another party to perform some actions, and refrain from other actions
  • Negative Right: a contractual obligation by another party to refrain from actions: to forgo opportunities for gains.
  • Positive Right: a contractual obligation by another party to perform actions: to bear costs, and to forgo opportunity for ‘defection’ (cheating).
  • Existential Rights: Rights exist only when (a) obtained in contractual exchange, and (b) are enforceable in matters of dispute by a third party ‘insurer’. (throughout most of history the ‘government’ is the insurer of last resort. Rights do not exist then, they must be existentially created by the construction of an insurer (usually government).
  • Desired Right: A right that you wish to possess if you can find (a) a party to exchange it with you and (b) an enforcer (insurer) of those rights once you negotiated them.

Hierarchy of Rights:

  1. Normative (norms, manners, ethics, morals),
  2. Contractual: (from promise to formal document)
  3. Political Right (political):
    1. Law proper (discovered),
    2. Legislation (negotiated),
    3. Regulation (commanded)
  4. Human Rights (inter-state): Human rights were an attempt by western nations in the post-colonial and post-war era to set the terms by which governments would respect the sovereignty(esp. borders) of other governments. In other words, it was an attempt to prevent horrors of primitive and developing countries, contain the horrors of communism, constrain expansionist governments, and set the purpose of government to the improvement of the condition of its citizens.
  5. Natural Rights (~scientifically necessary): Those rights necessary for the evolution of voluntary organization of production of goods and services (capitalism) in the absence of parasitism and predation by organizations whether public or private. All natural rights are negative rights, since we can only equally refrain from action, because we are unequally able to act, and unequally can control resources necessary for action.

    Human rights are necessary rights – those necessary for human freedom from predation – that any government must seek to produce for its citizens (act as a guarantor) if that government wishes to preserve it’s sovereignty from actions against it by those signatories of the contract for human rights: the insurers of last resort.


  • All Natural Rights are expressible as property rights that we reciprocally grant one another: rights to non imposition of costs against life, liberty, and property. (Which was the original wording of the US Constitution.) All moral codes are also expressible as property rights, for those actions unknown to affected parties. All ethical codes are expressible as property rights for those actions between parties where knowledge is asymmetrically distributed.
  • The difference between human rights (political) and natural rights (scientific) is that to mollify the communists and obtain their signatures the articles in the 20’s were added that mandated positive rights. These rights cannot be brought into existence without violating all other rights. This is why they do not and cannot exist.
  • the only rights we can grant each other are negative, because we can only equally possess the ability to refrain from action.
  • We create (organize) governments in order to create property rights. To create an insurer of our life(existence), liberty(action), and property(inventory)

    Everything else we say about it is some form of colorful deception.

Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute
Kiev, Ukraine


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