The point of inalienable rights is that they exist independent of the acknowledgement of formal governing bodies. Governing bodies may choose to acknowledge the people they govern have rights, and to orient their actions around their recognition and preservation, but rights are held by the individuals because individuals are born free and independent.
There are no hive minds or oversouls. No man can look at another and know what the other is thinking or feeling. The individual nature of existence renders it impossible to see the world through anything other than personal experience. As Adam Smith so eloquently observed in the opening paragraphs of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, “As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation.”
This establishes two important principles as apply to government, particularly those who wish to respect the rights of their citizens.
First, that rights must flow from the nature of individual being. The individual is identifiably distinct and, philosophically speaking, unknowable. The inability to step into the mind of another and understand the unique set of circumstances that make up his mind means no man can govern another. Individual sovereignty rests on nothing more than the independent nature of the mind.
Second, that, in its role as adjudicator, government cannot make determinations about what is in an individual’s best interest. It can manage rights, not interests. The individuals who breath life into the organs of government may empathize with the plight of their constituents, but when they take action that, based on their reckoning and their own moral intuition, is designed to boost another, they are actually undermining the sovereignty of the individual. They are asserting their own perspective and solution to a problem over the individual actually facing this. This accomplishes nothing but to erode the individual’s right to be master of his own affairs.
This, in a nutshell, means one simple thing: any government that claims to prioritize freedom by endeavoring to respect individual liberty must be preternaturally aware of rights. In judicial terms this means an…