Rights are particular guarantees. An individual who holds a right is thereby entitled to whatever that right guarantees.
Human rights are moral rights to which all humans are entitled in virtue of their humanity. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes, amongst others, “the right to life, liberty, and security of person,” “the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion” and the right “to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from prosecution.”
The human rights listed in the UDHR, as well as the rights listed in other charters (the Bill of Rights in the United States, for example), imply and impose certain duties to others. Thus, a person’s right to free speech imposes on others a duty to not violate that right by censuring or otherwise interfering with that person’s ability to speak freely.
A distinction can be made between legal rights and moral rights, although overlap is common (as in the case where moral rights are upheld legally). Legal rights pertain to members of a given group or class. Thus, a British citizen has certain legal rights in Britain that a Japanese, American, or Chilean citizen is not entitled to.
One difference between moral and legal rights is that legal rights find their justification in municipal, state, federal, and international law; moral rights, although they may be legally codified, may be asserted even in the absence of legal justification.« Back to Glossary Index