Life, Liberty, and Property

In his essay In Pursuit of Happiness, written in 1976, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“The draftsmen of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, like their philosophical predecessors such as John Locke, proclaimed the triumvirate of natural human rights — to life, liberty, and property — as if they formed three discontinuous virtues separated by both conceptual and actual barriers. In fact and in essence, the “natural rights” of life, liberty and property present different aspects of the same facade, as though one viewed the identical building from three different angles.

Recur to fundamentals. Every individual possesses a right to live his life unmolested by others so long as he works no force or fraud upon his neighbors, a right to chart his destiny by the particular stars he perceives. Grant this premise and the corollaries discussed in this tract fall naturally and inevitably in place. From this fundamental axiom derives the right of each individual to free action, to liberty, since one cannot seek his own subjective ends if other men plot constraints which reduce or eliminate the full sweep of the actor’s choice or pre-determine his ends. Life means life lived to its fullest, given the person’s nature and ability, untarnished by the forceful actions of others. Living without liberty offers a poor excuse for life. In like manner, the same fundamental premise begets a right in each man to retain or transfer, on his own terms, that which he creates or produces, “property rights” in the argot, since no one can be meaningfully free to live his life in quest of his goals if he cannot employ, enjoy, barter, donate or devastate that which he has created.”

Read the entire essay here,


One Response to Life, Liberty, and Property

  1. Pingback: The Essence of Liberty: In case you missed it. |

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