Talk:Individual and group rights

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better to let a criminal go free; than to execute an innocent[edit]

"People who argue that individual rights are more important than social control are called, "individual rights advocates". This school of thought holds that it is better to let a criminal go free; than to execute, imprison, or otherwise punish an innocent person." is the bugers in ur nose Is this actually true? I don't think any "individual rights advocates" actually believe that fairly sentenxed criminals should go unpunished, although the majority probably believe that criminals should certainly not be executed, regardless of their crimes. Does the author have any evidence for to support this? -- Axon

You are reading it wrong, advocates of individual rights do not believe that criminals should go unpunished. It is the question of fairness which leads to the debate itself, as we can never be sure what is truly fair, we must inevitably error in one direction or the other. Individual rights advocates say its better that we error in favor of setting criminals free, than convict innocent people in an attempt to ensure we also convict all the criminals. In essence, individual rights advocates interpret "reasonable doubt" very broadly.Shino Baku

I understand what the author is trying to get at, I just question the veracity. Do individual rights advocates really consider themselves in this way (in which case some supporting evidence would be useful) or, as I think, is this more how they are viewed by their opponents? If so it seems to me that this is bias and would be better placed elsewhere in the article in a 'opponents criticise individual rights advocates because...' type sentence. -- Axon

Its not criticism. Its better to set criminals free than imprison innocent people. The rights of the individual to due process and justice are more important than the "rights" of the state to impose its laws. Shino Baku

I appreciate what is being said may not necessarily a criticism and what you are trying to say. What I'm asking is 'is this claim really true for the majority of individual rights advocates?' and 'what evidence is there to support this?' The claim may well be true, but I would just like verification one way or the other. -- Axon

Definition of individual rights[edit]

What is your definiton of individual rights? Shino Baku

The same as everyone else's: that they are the rights an individual has, such as a right to privacy, anonymity, etc., that trump the rights of the state. I suppose, and this is what I assume you're getting at, that such rights allow some guilty individuals to walk free at the expense of protecting everyone's individual rights. However, I would contest this view and argue that police already have enough powers to convict the guilty successfully, and that the ratio of guilty to innocent people walking away from a court of law does not actually change that much with increased police powers at the expense of individual rights. Of course, I'm neither an individual rights advocate nor an expert in the field. Which is why I ask for proof of that 'individual rights' advocates see themselves in this way. -- Axon

If Im given the freedom to board an airline without being searched for a gun, wouldn't you think it reasonable to conclude that by allowing me to have increased freedoms, one is also allowing criminals to have increased freedom? Whenever one advocates increased individual rights, one is arguing that the loss of that right is worse than extending that right to criminals. If I argue that all citizens should be allowed to own an assault rifle, I am arguing that although potential criminals will then be able to own an assault rifle, I would rather let the criminals have that freedom, than lose that freedom myself.

As Jeremy Bentham said:

  • "Every law is an infraction of liberty"

Shino Baku

I appreciate the logic Shino, but I would still like evidence backing up the assertion that individual rights advocates really see themselves in this way. Otherwise, this is just opinion dressed up as fact. The logic does not necessarily follow in all cases. For example, the right to privacy is often claimed to make it harder to catch criminals, but I've often heard privacy rights advocates disclaim this. -- Axon

Right, but those are privacy rights advocates, we are dealing specifically with individual rights advocates. Now granted, the statement in question is a POV and thus not necessarily correct, for example, I would not necessarily agree that we must extend individual rights to allowing personal ownership of nuclear weapons on the grounds that the loss of these individual rights is a greater "crime" than any possible crime that could be committed by a criminal who is given these rights.

Naturally, privacy rights advocates have a vested interest in maintaining a POV in which they argue that increased individual rights are not only good, but they won't even result in increased criminal behavior Perhaps someone even argues that increased privacy will result in more criminals being caught...because...I can't think of a reason why. Certainly, privacy rights is a subbranch of individual rights and you will find people who argue, "Yes, increased privacy will make it easier for criminals to operate in secrecy; however, the ill effects of those criminal actions will NOT equal the ill effects of curtailing privacy rights." This latter argument being exactly what is expressed in the article.

Perhaps most importantly, which is why I do hope I find you a source, the expression regarding "It is better to set a criminal free, than imprison an innocent man" is not merely an extrapolation of individual rights theory, but its some kind of actual quote from somewhere. The idea essentially is, if we remove enough individual rights, we can have a police state and arrest everybody, and thus arrest all the criminals; but, it is better to arrest nobody and arrest none of the criminals (than to arrest everybody). Shino Baku

Kubigula offered a definition that seems like original research:

"Individual rights" identify limits of how one individual may interact with another in society. Individual rights are distinct from human rights as the possession of these rights does not depend on humanness as the source of authority, but rather the actions of the individual.

I have never heard that definition before. By the standard def, individual rights do depend on humanness. Furthermore, the distinction between individual rights and human rights has to do with positive rights or minimal benefits. Individual rights don't include positive rights or benefits; human rights do (cf: UN Declaration of Rights). So I changed the def to the following normal definition:

"Individual rights" are the rights of individuals by virtue of their humanness, i.e. their nature as sentient beings. Individual rights provide principles to delimit the interaction of individuals in society with respect to personal interactions and the distribution of goods and services. Individual rights are sometimes held to be distinct from human rights, because the latter class is often considered to include human goods and benefits (positive rights) rather than rights proper (negative rights.) Individual rights are an individual's moral claim to freedom of action. Such rights may be respected or recognized by others for reasons of reciprocity, contract, pragmatism, or as a moral imperitive.

PhilLiberty 06:39, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Americentric definition[edit]

I've just taken a quick look at the page and this discussion. I do not really this discussion is getting to the heart of the problem with this article in that the concept of individual rights is contested outside the United States (once again a Americentric Wikipedia entry). As you will see in recent edits I have done on Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Freedom of speech (Canada) there are many countries (developed out of the United Nations System) that see collective rights as being a necessary balance against individual rights. I have only briefly touched upon these topics but there is a large literature out there on these issues. As far as the quote is concerned there are some famous criminal scholars who have said similar quotes I will try and dig one up in my spare time. it has come up again lately in discussions about DNA evidence uncovering so many convicted felons that were really innocent victims of sloppy police work. Alex756

I'm not sure that the following is true......

Despite the fact that fair trials and open-ended tolerance of dissent may have costs no less significant than food or homes, the United States and other countries maintained that there was a definite moral difference between their traditional negative rights and the more intervention and distribution-focused positive rights.

First of all, enough though positive rights aren't in much evidence in U.S. Federal constitutional law, there are a lot of state constitutions which contain positive rights (i.e. a judicially enforcable right to public education). Second, even though its not in U.S. constitutional law, the notion of positive rights is not absent from U.S. political dialogue. One of FDR's four freedoms is freedom from want. Finally, most conservatives and libertarians that I know don't believe that negative rights are morally superior to positive rights. The belief is that only by the protection of negative rights can there be the prosperity that makes positive rights possible. -- User:Roadrunner

Why no mention of God-given rights in this article? Isn't that the foundation of the belief of individual rights? That they are given to man by God? The Declaration of Independence makes reference to this belief and the Bill of Rights enumerates it.--[Bogart]

"Americancentric" human rights are not described at all by this article. This article does not describe the fundamental human rights of Americans under the United States, which are profoundly different than those described. For this reason, some disclaimer should be inserted. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Raggz (talkcontribs) 07:07, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
That would be unnecessary. That would give undue emphasis on "American-centric" definition whereas the US is not the only country in the world. __earth (Talk) 10:37, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
"granted by government" is wrong for the United States and most likely anywhere. When a "right" is granted by government, it's not really a right, but an "entitlement" temporarily "granted" by those who currently hold power. A right is more fundamental than an entitlement. "America-centric" problem is a non-starter with me. If you're going to have an article titled "individual rights", then you can't have a definition that is clearly wrong somewhere. Given that the US is THE country founded on liberal philosophy, with individual rights strongly encoded into basic Constitutional guarantees, it would be dead wrong to try to write an article in denial of the "American" concept. I would caution against "balancing" the article by trying to distort it to an average with countries that lack individual rights in their political structure. Of course there are those who "disagree" with indivudal rights - but that doesn't mean that the definition of individual rights tends towards the opposite Marxist collective concept of "justice". Rogerfgay 10:33, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Removed Paragraph[edit]

I removed the following from the page:

Conversely, adherents of socialist and communist philosophies sometimes argue for a few restrictions on negative rights if they provide a significant increase in positive rights. This line of thought was also popular in the 1950s and 1960s in some communist states. However in the 1980s, it appeared that judged from their own standard of providing positive rights (such as the right to economic prosperity), those governments appeared lacking, and this was a major factor in the collapse of many such regimes in the late 1980s. Contemporary communists and socialists point to the corruption that existed in those countries (resulting from their lack of democracy) as the main cause of their failure to deliver positive rights to their citizens. While the Soviet Union collapsed, the democratic socialist systems that put a similar emphasis on positive rights, but without neglecting negative rights, (i.e. nations such as the Scandinavian countries) prospered.

This paragraph is hopelessly POV. Not everyone believes the distiction between positive and negative rights is valid. Also what counts as socialist and communist, and what they believe is a complex issue. There is no justification given for saying that some communist states held this POV. The word some is evasive, and non-concreate. Why the Soviet Union collapsed is another complex issue, which can be debated at great lengths. To say that a country has prospered because of its emphasis on "positive rights" is also debatable.

I also removed the following:

The idea that economic prosperity overrides negative rights was also used to justify right wing East Asian regimes in the 1960s and is still used by the government of the People's Republic of China to justify its political system.

This seems questionable, but is ok if one might find a reference. I don't know how much creedence the idea of positive/negative rights is given outside of American right-wing circles. millerc 07:35, 29 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Focus of Article wrong[edit]

This is a very bizarre entry.

I think the entire focus of this article is wrong. Rather than defining what individual rights are and the different ways that they are defined and applied, it makes unsubstantiated assertions about what proponents of individual rights believe. Interesting definitions can be found in U.N. Charters and the U.S. Constitution, including providing instances where such rights are grossly violated.

All liberals who believe in individual rights agree that they must balanced. The old adage says that your right to extend your arm ends at my nose. Laws are needed not to hold up the state in and of itself, but to ensure and harmony among individuals with different interests but with the same rights. Since criminals grossly violate the individual rights of others, they go to jail. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 13:45, 11 February 2006 .

"In practice, no Canadian government has ever chosen to face the political consequences of actually overriding the Charter."

This is false. Firstly, you need to refer to the "Notwithstanding Clause" by name. Secondly, it has been invoked several times by several provincial governments.

This article is badly flawed. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 13:51, 11 February 2006 .

This article is a big bunch of crap and really is just gobbledy gook.


This thing has way too many templates. Whoever came up with the sidemounted list template instead of the bottom template should be tickled under his soles for eternity. Joffeloff 22:36, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Agree'd 01:52, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

UN Declaration of Human rights[edit]

I want to substantially alter the paragraph about the UN declaration of human rights. The UN declaration of human rights is not a statement about individual rights, it is a human rights issue meaning they describe both individual rights and rights that can only be issued by government and are not contingent on duties to be performed by the individual. Mrdthree 11:25, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

OK so I will. Human rights are not individual rights. Mrdthree 19:37, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

cluttering boxes[edit]

Don't you think think that those boxes on rights, liberalism and conservatism are cluttering the article's page? __earth (Talk) 07:59, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Gathering sources[edit]

Lets slowly gather names and addresses of sources for ibdividual rights here. Mrdthree 10:18, 10 September 2007 (UTC) OK so my reading of current usage is that 'individual rights' are held by some to be moral rights and others to be a bundle of moral and legal rights. IN particular libertarian/individualist strains hold individual rights to be moral rights and the ABA Section on Individual Rights talks about the advancement of human rights, civil liberties, and social justice. Mrdthree 09:08, 25 September 2007 (UTC) I guess the next thing is to go to AMazon and look at the thesis of books with the phrase in the title.Mrdthree 09:14, 25 September 2007 (UTC).

OK going down the Amazon List, searching books for "individual rights"[1]sampling text using google books. Top six returns are textbooks that arent searchable.Mrdthree 10:54, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
"FIRE’s GUIDE TO DUE PROCESS AND FAIR PROCEDURE ON CAMPUS" by Harvey A. Silverglate, Josh Gewolb.[2]RELEVANT EXCERPTS: "FIRE’s mission is to defend, sustain, and restore individual rights at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of civil liberty and human dignity. FIRE’s core goals are to protect the unprotected against repressive behavior and partisan policies of all kinds, to educate the public about the threat to individual rights that exists on our campuses, and to lead the way in the necessary and moral effort to preserve the rights of students and faculty to speak their minds, to honor their consciences, and to be treated honestly, fairly, and equally by their institutions."Mrdthree 11:01, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
"Enforcing Equality: Congress, the Constitution, and the Protection of Individual Rights" by Rebecca Zietlow (Author)[3]. Toledo Law School. COMMENT: Doesnt define individual rights or discuss more than 2 examples. Cites "Steve Clark" and argues against unversalizable human rights in favor of relativistic human rights. Says politics reduces to belongingness rights, which are rights of inclusion granted to minorities by the majority to participate in political, economic and social institutions and goods. OPINION: dont include mention.Mrdthree 10:45, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
9-13 unsearcheable textbooks. " Individual Rights Reconsidered: Are the Truths of the U.S. Declaration of Independence Lasting?". Tibor Machan (Ed.). COMMENT: Famous libertarian theorist.Searchability minimal, dont feel like summarizing [4].Contributors: Ronald Hamowy, Tibor R. Machan, Eric Mack, Tom G. Palmer, Douglas B. Rasmussen.Mrdthree 11:11, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
I think thats enough for Amazon. Suffice to say the best sellers in individual rights are law school textbooks, save a few recent essays. Mrdthree 11:19, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
I think I will look at Amazon uK to see what is different.Mrdthree 16:14, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
AMAZON UK [5]: Liberty, Right and Nature: Individual Rights in Later Scholastic Thought (Ideas in Context): Individual Rights in Later Scholastic Thought."Annabel S. Brett (Au) and Quentin Skinner;Lorraine Daston;Dorothy Ross;James Tully(Eds).[6]. COMMENTS: critiques claim that individual rights originate in the equivalence of the Latin concepts of ius and dominium in the 13-14th century. Ius is normative (ought) and dominium is practical sovereign power (and force). Problem is she talks about subjective and objective rights being historical components of individual rights. I guess the summary is one ought not hinder subjective rights (of the will), and one ought to do objective right (be just to one another). QUOTES: "natural law as right as the object of justice ('objective rights')", "right as a faculty or liberty of the individual ('subjective right')","the primary dominium a man has is that which he has over his own will". "If a man renounces it, he annhiliates himself".OPINION: great.Mrdthree 16:46, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
great number of childrens books and US law textbooks and then Rebecca Zietlow book, tibor machan book and at #30 A Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State. David Kelley[7] .COMMENT: objectivist thinker. SUMMARY: Individual rights as liberty rights or welfare rights. "Liberty rights protect the individual's freedom from interference by others, including the government. Welfare rights, by contrast, are based on a concept of positive freedom". "Liberty rights are concerned with the processes by which we interact. Welfare rights are concerned with the outcomes." Mrdthree 17:24, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
CONCLUSIONS OF SOURCING: Major sources for popular understanding of individual rights are the real politics of legal text books, classical individual rights theorists, libertarian (some left, some right), and objectivist thinkers. Mrdthree 17:34, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

NPOV and vague[edit]

This article appears to be NPOV (a POV that I agree with, but nevertheless) and somewhat vague on what exactly individual rights are.

In the first paragraph it distinguishes them from from both civil rights (itself a term of multiple meanings, so no help there), from legal rights (which would identify them with natural rights), from group rights (which I would hold the proper antonym of individual rights to be), and from privileges (which all rights are contrasted with, not just individual rights).

I propose that this article be focused to concentrate on the opposite of group rights, since the distinction from privileges is redundant due to this being an article about rights in the first place, we already have articles on natural rights and legal rights establishing that distinction (and both legal rights and natural rights can theoretically be of either individual or group nature), and civil rights has several different meanings, the relevant one here seeming to be synonymous with legal rights, regarding which see previous.

Furthermore, in the second paragraph this article claims that only negative rights are "rights proper". While I am of a libertarian bent myself and would deny that anyone has any natural positive rights, on a purely theoretical and conceptual level positive rights are still a form of right, and there most certainly are positive legal rights "proper".

I'm going to go ahead and clean up this article a bit later today, but if anyone has any problems, here is my justification. -Pfhorrest (talk) 22:39, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

This page, "Individual Rights" is in the midst of Anarchy. Wiki Rule of Law: Hard solid definitions please, sighted by sources that are actually defining Natural Rights. Origins. History. Failures. Present state of affairs. The Talk page is not only not a forum, but the wiki article should not be a personal philosophical journy for some among you who appear to want to rule the world. Clean this page up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wiki truth enlighten (talkcontribs) 07:23, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Merger with Group rights[edit]

I propose that this article be merged with Group rights in a manner mirroring negative and positive rights and claim rights and liberty rights. They still seem largely redundant to me. For example, both include a first section on "Western discourse" which look like derivatives of the same original paragraph, and both contain an "Objectivist view" section which as far as I can tell are identical between the two articles. The majority of the remainder of both articles seem to be discussing how group rights differ from individual rights or vice versa. Thoughts? --Pfhorrest (talk) 00:09, 23 April 2010 (UTC)

Source problems[edit]

In one of the sources, the one by Peter Jones, his name goes to a disambiguation page. Is that because we don't know which Peter Jones it is, or because Wikipedia doesn't have a page on him, or what? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:23, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Also, source #4 is a dead link.

British reverse discrimination claims[edit]

At the moment the article says "the British government [2] seeks to favour historically disadvantaged groups at the expense of members of a historically dominant group in the areas of university admissions or employment.[3] ". That assertion is a) not backed up by the sources cited, which say nothing about UK universities and are just dictionary definitions from US dictionaries (bizarrely) and b) is untrue in any case (as I understand the issue - correct me if I'm wrong).

I would propose to delete the sentence I quoted unless someone can provide a citation that actually confirms the statement. Any thoughts? Luzzy fogic (talk) 11:12, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Removing incoherent sentences[edit]

While reading the "Philosophies" section of the article I came upon the following words: "Interceding within that spectrum for the actual availing of collective governance to be allotted systematization and their undivided agency, but relegated for the regulation of such freedom toward constructed entities is the federative process. A faculty of federalism that lends to relative de-standardization of governance under its auspices, unlike libertarian or socialistic manners of state. Federated structures allow for diversity of power distribution between the alternating group and individual interest schemata where neither liberal nor collective type governing alone can codify in variation." OK, those three quote-unquote "sentences" do not make a lick of sense. I am removing them from the article. Qdiderot (talk) 10:53, 11 May 2014 (UTC)