Rights are abstractions that depend on the nature of the individual and a series of discoveries that led to the identifications of the attributes of Powers and the proper use of Power.
An individual alone in a desert island has no need for Rights because there’s no one who can abuse him/her. that lone individual would still need a set of values, a moral code to operate but the code would not need to consider either Rights or the actions that Rights are designed to protect agaisnt, Power.
When an individual is alone on an island all actions have no consequence on other individuals so there’s no need to identify concepts like Power or Rights.
What happens when two or more individuals encounter each other? How are they supposed to act towards the other or others?
Lets analyse “Justice”. Individuals must judge and evaluate the things around them before deciding how to act. Is judgment automatically right? No. What causes judgment to be wrong? 1. The lack of sufficient evidence. 2. The evasion of the evidence, or 3. the inclusion of considerations other than the relevant facts of the case. How can we arrive at the right judgment?
By basing it exclusively on the factual evidence and by considering all the relevant evidence available. But isn’t this a description of “objectivity”? Yes, “objective judgment” is one of the wider categories to which the concept “justice” belongs. What distinguishes “justice” from other instances of objective judgment? When one evaluates the nature or actions of inanimate objects, the criterion of judgment is determined by the particular purpose for which one evaluates them. But how does one determine a criterion for evaluating the character and actions of men, in view of the fact that men possess the faculty of volition? What science can provide an objective criterion of evaluation in regard to volitional matters? Ethics. Now, do I need a concept to designate the act of judging a man’s character and/or actions exclusively on the basis of all the factual evidence available, and of evaluating it by means of an objective moral criterion? Yes. That concept is “justice.”
Ayn Rand wrote that synopsis of Justice. Notice it involves thought.
Rights were recognized when the intellectual level reached a point where is was noticed that some of the actions of others caused problems for some people. Power was human action but the unjust use of Power caused problems of justice. How can Power be controlled or directed so it’s good? One concept was that individuals have the ability to judge whether an action of another is harmful or beneficial to themselves. A way to control the power was needed so Rights were derived to control power and/or to keep it just.
Rights only depend on the nature of the individual analysed against other individuals or groups.
Rights don’t depend on the law although the law should be objective, i.e., apply to everyone in the same manner and the law should be just, that is correct. The law is implemented with Power. Thus Power and the Law is counterbalanced with Rights which guard against unjust laws and the unjust application of the laws.
Government doesn’t need Rights because government has Power. Individuals need Rights because they need to control the great powers of government and the only way to do that is to determine that government must be controlled and the concept of individual rights is the only tool available to control government.
The principle of individual rights represents the extension of morality into the social system — as a limitation on the power of the state, as man’s protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right. The United States was the first moral society in history because it put the control of the power of government in the hands of the citizens.
The important part of the government of America is not that it’s spolt into three parts. It’s still government. The highest principle and the most important principle of American government is the subordination of the government, government subordinated to the citizens.
America decided that an individual has the right to their own life. That means the individual is an end unto him or her self and the government exists to protect the individual from the government. It does that through the principle of Individual Rights.
Keep in mind that the principle of individual Rights is so new that most people have not grasped it even though it was used to undergird the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.