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21. Individual Right considers human beings as co-existing, but co-existing in an isolated state relative both to their interests and to the means of furthering their interests. Each one acts of himself, although even in such a state mutual rights and duties exist.

22. Individual Right can be present, we must note, without our necessarily supposing that all human beings are, or can be, found in such a situation. It would be sufficient if only one were found. The rights of a single human being are sacred, and a book could justifiably be written for the sole purpose of instructing one human being about his rights, and other human beings about respect for those rights.

However, the necessity and importance of individual Right is in fact extraneous to and independent of every reality present in the isolated condition in which human beings are considered relative to individual Right. Even if it were true that no one had ever been shipwrecked, people could still be found co-existing on a desert island without social contact, as has happened many times. Even if we never found a single human being sadly deprived of family, homeland and all human contact, an investigation and lucid exposition of individual rights would always be necessary and important. The rights of the individual may indeed be modified in society but they never cease; they always remain as the basis and body of social rights. Social rights therefore cannot be understood nor their foundation uncovered, if individual rights, which precede them, are not first presented on their own and totally separate from them. Consequently, it is entirely reasonable for the philosopher to proceed rather like the mathematician, that is, he must first expound human rights by abstracting from the fact of society. He must do this not because he aims to destroy such a fact, but because he wishes to consider both that which precedes society in the order of nature and reason, and that which is presupposed and required by society — just as the skeleton is presupposed and required for a beautifully formed body.

23. Hence, a discussion of the mutual rights which exist independently of social bonds involves two principal investigations. The first concerns derived rights themselves; the second, the changes they undergo. I will dedicate two books to each of these investigations.

Thus, our individual Right is divided into four books dealing with the following arguments:


I. Connatural Rights

II. Acquired Rights


Changes In Rights

III. The transmission of rights, and their consequent modification

IV. The alteration of others' rights, their consequent obligations, and modifications of mutual rights.


Book 1