Contractual rights

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A contractual right is a claim, on other persons, that is acknowledged and perhaps reciprocated among the principals associated with that claim. Specialized contractual rights exist as part of a "contract" or agreement between persons to whom these rights belong.

One concept of rights is a principle of interaction between people which amounts to the simplest version of the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"). In other words, it is a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more people; each of them agrees to behave in a certain way towards the others so that they will behave in the same way towards him or her.

Other concepts of rights do not necessarily involve this reciprocal supportiveness. Since ancient times there has existed a belief that parents are owed, as a right, the respect of their children. Similarly, the marriage ceremony is believed by many to confer rights upon the two parties in exchange for thus bonding their lives to each other.

The move to making contractual rights mutual and equal is relatively modern. In ancient times contractual rights were often more one-sided, the rights of a father to be respected by his son didn't necessarily indicate a duty upon the father to return that respect. Even today, when we are so familiar with the concept of equal rights and mutual respect in society, the rights of children remain in dispute.