Whether natural or not, a ‘right’ would be something endowed by some creator or authority figure. So… if a right is something created, does it only exist because it has been endowed? What if we didn’t have any rights? They don’t really exist before they are granted by someone anyway, and so when you are standing in front of a judge and plead for a right that you ‘apparently’ have, does that give the judge the authority to not grant you that right? Depending on what it is you have done, yes.
So what about things like laws? It is against the law to be cruel towards animals for example. Animals do have certain rights in a lot of countries in the world, however, the rights that they seem to have are somewhat conditional. Then we have to look at the difference between ‘legal rights’, and ‘natural rights’ of course. A question might be that animals can not reason, and so how do they know what a right is? This is where ‘conditional’ comes in. Almost makes it rhetorical. (Not in the animal world).
And the grand ‘institutions’ that govern all of these unnatural principles, and try to control natural law, would be the most interesting of the three. However, I think that the ‘natural world’ explains itself. And this would indicate that natural law, natural principles, and the natural world are what do in fact matter to us when figuring out where rights actually come from. Rights are created to help us protect our opinions, families, morals, beliefs etc. They come from reason, but not always from logic. What would it be like if we didn’t have any rights I ask again? Perhaps we would have thought of other ways to protect what is wholly adequate.
Remember though that rights entail responsibilities. Animals are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions. We humans are the opposite, but we are still animals and this brings up a different set of ethics such as, what could be right or wrong about our thinking? Not every opinion, moral, or belief should be transformed into a right would be a good start I think.
Jay R. Marchant