Rights in the Western Tradition
“Rights,” in Erwin Fahlbusch, ed., The Encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids/Cambridge/ Leiden/Boston: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. and Brill, 2005), vol. 4, 701-709
15 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2005 Last revised: 13 Nov 2014
This Article provides a brief analysis of the main stages of Western theories of rights and liberties: (1) classic Roman views of objective and subjective rights and liberties; (2) medieval Catholic views of rights and liberties rooted in natural law and corporate charters; (3) early modern Protestant views of rights and liberties rooted in biblical commands and natural orders; (4) modern Enlightenments views grounded in human nature and social contracts, and reflected in constitutional texts and cases; and (5) the proliferation and diversification of universal rights talk in the aftermath of World War II.
Keywords: Rights, western tradition, liberties, natural law, human nature, universal rights
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