Our goal in the readings in this section is to think about how to defend (or oppose) the idea that individuals have rights in virtue of their humanity. After reading an excerpt from John Locke, we turn to a description of how philosophers today have argued with one another about the foundations of human rights. You should not try to master this material or even read it carefully. As the syllabus says, we are only looking at the first and third parts of the essay in any case. As you read, you should think about how (if at all) it might be relevant to human rights law.
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John Locke (1632-1704) was a famous English philosopher (and terrorist) commonly thought to have helped inspire the American Revolution thanks to his argument that natural rights justify violent rebellion. Our question, looking briefly at Locke, is where he thinks individual rights come from, and whether we think he is correct.
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