What is a Fundamental Right?

It’s obvious (at least to me) that many people don’t understand what a right actually is, especially considering all the so-called rights that people are asking the government to do something about. Often what people think are rights really aren’t. Is there an easy formula for determining whether something is a right or not? Yes…

This video, featuring Joel Skousen, explains the origin of rights and what is and what isn’t a fundamental rights. By watching and understanding this video you will be able to understand what is and isn’t a fundamental right, pertaining to any issue, bill, legislation, law, etc. Understanding fundamental rights is the basis of understanding the Proper Role of Government.

YouTube video link.

Want to skip right to the “formula”? It’s at 4:10 in the video, however the rest of the video helps you understand the concept better with examples and more.

I’ll also spell it out for you right here: “Fundamental rights are those rights which everyone can simultaneously claim without forcing someone to serve their needs.” Now watch the video for further explanation.



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8 Responses to “What is a Fundamental Right?”

  • Avatar for Blog John Hamilton Says:

    Excellent definition. I’m going to print it up and frame it. I would only change the word “fundamental” to “all.” Beyond the fundamental rights there are no rights, just privileges. Not that all privileges are bad, but we must recognize and define them for what they are. “Free” public education, just like public roads, is not a right but privilege we either earned by willingly contributing to it, or was willingly given to us by others. Either way it is a voluntary contract and can be rescinded at any time by either or all parties, whereas rights cannot be violated.

  • Avatar for Blog Nisa Says:

    This is excellent. Thank you for sharing it!

  • Avatar for Blog Jennifer Says:

    I love this quote. Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar for Blog blueberry Says:

    i loooove the skousen books and work! thank you… so i understand this definition until i try to use it to explain gay marriage.. how do i use this definition and defend the sanctity of marriage by saying they dont have the ‘right’ to mary. i can certainly make clear arguments against gay marriage but not by using this definition

  • Avatar for Blog Brian M. Says:

    I don’t know if I have the best answer for you, but here’s what I’m thinking…

    There’s another level to the whole picture – beyond this definition of fundamental rights…

    A right is only something that is right (righteous). We have no right to do wrong. We may have the ability to do wrong, but not the right. This is where God’s Law comes into the picture. God established the institution of marriage, and He has declared that marriage is between a man and a woman. Society (most societies) has accepted God’s law in this regard and have fashioned their own laws in support of God’s law. After that’s what this life is for, to learn to be like God, to follow Christ and the Gospel. Thus in government we should strive to have our own laws in accordance with God’s law. Unfortunately we have mostly failed miserably, especially in trying to maintain a government that operates only in righteousness.

  • Avatar for Blog Holli Says:

    In response to defending traditional marriage, look no further than out founding documents.
    1. Rights come from our Creator. That means God. They didn’t say gods. There is no monotheistic religion that has scripture to support gay “marriage.”
    2. Read the founders. They claim that going through the New Testament is the way to interpret our founding document(s).
    3. The definition of marriage means one thing: one man to one woman. Now, with this definition, it would be easier to reason the legality of plural marriage than of two people of the same sex! You can call water bread, but it doesn’t change the consistency of water into matter that you are able to slice. You can call the union of two people marriage, but it does not make it so.

    Some like to ask, “Why should I have to live by the New Testament principles?” And I answer, “Because that is the basic nature of our entire government and its laws. You don’t have to believe in God, or worship any way. But look at our laws!

    They are based on private property, not harming others, not murdering, not lying, not stealing…it’s all there.

    If one wants to live by shariah law, there are countries that have that. You want totally secular, go to any Communist country and get it there. We have our supreme laws based on Judeo-Christan values.

    Hope that helps! :D

  • Avatar for Blog Nate Says:

    @John Hamilton- Free citizens have a right to public roads. Access to public roads is NOT a privilege. We have a right to travel freely. Yes it’s true that someone had to pay for those roads, but everyone is entitled and has the right to use them regardless. This is because the free people have the right to travel freely on public lands according to their needs to sustain life and the pursuit of happiness. It is a violation of the peoples rights to put a road on land the people have a right to travel freely on and then tell them they must pay or have limited access to that road. If an entity puts a road on such land then they cannot take away the rights of the people to travel there upon and must grant access and use of the road to all who had right of access to the land the road is built on.

  • Avatar for Blog Nate Says:

    Now, it is not a right to force people to pay for paved and developed roads made for the public. Someone has to pay for them and it must be done by contract. The public does have the right to vote, organize, and develop public lands and build such roads by contract, but that is voluntary according to their agency, and the public cannot take away or violate the individual agency and access to the improved lands.

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