HomeCoursesProperty Rights
Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights"

Session 2

Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights"

|
Session 2

Executive Summary

Rand was world-famous as the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged when a collection of essays entitled The Virtue of Selfishness was published in 1964. It included “Man’s Rights,” in which she argued that individual rights are the indispensable link between ethics and politics.

  1. Individual rights are “moral principles which define and protect a man’s freedom of action, but impose no obligations on other men.” (p. 115) They are the foundation of a free society. 
  2. All rights stem from the nature of man and identify the necessary conditions for one’s survival in a social context—the recognition that one’s life, liberties, and property are one’s own. 
  3. “The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation.”(p. 110) To survive, a human being needs liberty of thought and action, including the ability to acquire, maintain, use, and dispose of material goods. 
  4. Thus, one needs property rights. “The right to property means that a man has the right to support his life by his own work (on any economic level, as high as his ability will carry him); it does not mean that others must provide him with property.” (p. 114)
  5. In a free society people interact only voluntarily. Individual rights are violated when one is coerced to act against one’s judgment. In a civilized society, the initiation of physical force is outlawed. Only self-defense and government retaliation are legitimate. 
  6. Since individual rights are “the means of subordinating society to moral law”(p. 108), the only moral purpose of a government is to protect its citizens’ individual rights. 
  7. But as the government has a monopoly on the use of force, it is the largest threat to human liberties. So government power must be limited severely in order to protect individual rights from being violated by the government itself.
  8. It follows that only free-market capitalism is moral, as it is the only society that values individual lives and liberties above any allegedly higher social imperatives. Capitalism thus also allows humans to flourish economically, artistically, scientifically, romantically, i.e., in all areas of life.

Read Ayn Rand’s article here. Summary by Andrei Volkov, 2020.

See next:

  1. Robert Tracinski, "The Causal Theory of Property"
  2. Armen Alchian, "Property Rights"
  3. Christina Sandefur and Ari Armstrong, Defense of Property Rights [podcast, 2020].
Join Our Newsletter For the Latest Posts
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We promote open Objectivism: the philosophy of reason, achievement, individualism, and freedom.