On Rights

The concept of “rights” can mean different things to different people, but what does it mean etymologically? Right comes from riht (West Saxon) or reht (Anglican), and has several meanings. In the context of voluntaryism, it means “what someone deserves; a just claim, what is due; correctness, truth; a legal entitlement, a privilege,”. It seems reasonable to sum those up as an entitlement, which is “to give (someone) ‘title’ to an estate or property.” Therefore we can say that rights are entitlements, and entitlements are claims of ownership, with to own meaning “to possess” or “to have, to hold.” A holding, in other words. We hold our bodies, our possessions, our homes, our land, thus each is characterized as “property” of ours. All in all, you can’t separate the concept of “rights” from the concept of “property”. To hold is to own is to be entitled, is to have a right, a right of control (clearly). So I ask, who controls you? And that’s today’s two cents.


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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.