By Michael P. Zuckert
Zuckert's publication covers 3 varied themes: the philosophical that means of the statement of Independence's paragraphs relating to ordinary rights; Jefferson's own perspectives on traditional rights; and the interaction among Locke's normal rights philosophy, the Whig political culture, the Pilgrim/Puritan culture and classical republican concept within the historical past and philosophy of America's founders. Zuckert argues cogently that usual rights philosophy used to be the most powerful motivating strength within the founders' view. Zuckert's booklet presumes a few wisdom, yet units forth arguments completely sufficient for the non-expert to appreciate. He additionally writes transparent prose. All in all, a superb ebook for an individual attracted to the historical past or philosophy of the yank founding.
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Extra resources for Natural Rights and the New Republicanism
If political society were a natural growth, as Aristotle had it, then the political community itself would have a natural status supervenient over, or at least rival to, the individual and his or her rights; moreover, political life under the Aristotelian conception serves a natural end that comes into sight only in the fully developed polity. Even if government in some sense naturally emerges, according to the doctrine of the Declaration its “just powers” derive only from rational consent of the governed—that is, consent to rule in the service of rights-securing.
The rights mentioned are not the grand human rights of “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” but rather, for the most part, claims that the king may not take certain actions without the authorization of Parliament. The place of rights in the Declaration of Rights shows it to have been an important document in the rise of constitutional government, but it does not express the same understanding of the nature and purposes of government as the Declaration of Independence does. It could not produce, as the natural rights philosophy was to do, the new republicanism.
Most significantly, the Declaration of Rights fails to affirm the central point in the Declaration of Independence’s theory of government: there is no suggestion that government exists for the sake of securing rights and only for that. Obviously, rights of the sort declared there are important, but they are not the very raison d’être of political life. Since they do not predate but derive from political life, there is no question of government’s coming to exist for their sake. Rights are conditions or limits or even means of rule; they do not stand as the purpose of governance.
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