Five different theories regarding the nature of rights

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Points to Remember

There are five different theories regarding the nature of rights.

1. The Theory of Natural Rights:

The theory is based on the assumption that certain rights belong to man by nature. John Locke was its main exponent.

The sociological school has given them a new significance.

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They regard natural rights as immunities and freedoms of man which are highly conducive to perfect living in society.

The theory is criticized on the ground that rights cannot exist prior to state.

2. The Historical Theory of Rights:

According to this theory, rights are the product of history. These are found in ancient customs and traditions.

The theory is criticized on the basis that rights do not always exist in customs and traditions. Rights change from age to age.

3. The Legal Theory of Rights:

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According to this theory rights are created and maintained by the state.

The political pluralists object to this theory, because the state does not create rights but it only recognizes them.

4. The Social Welfare Theory of Rights:

The Utilitarian’s defend it. Utility is the measuring rod of a particular right.

The theory has its appeal in the sense of justice and reason.

5. The Idealistic Theory of Rights:

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The idealists deify the state which creates rights. The state has all claims against the individual but the individual has no claims against the society.

The theory has little appeal to reason or logic.

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