Natural Law and Natural Rights

About this Collection

The natural law and natural rights tradition emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries and argues that the world is governed by natural laws which are discoverable by human reason. A key aspect of this intellectual tradition is the notion that natural rights are not created by governments. Governments are instead created to secure these rights.

Key People

Titles & Essays

A – Z List

Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources (General)


English Literature


General Law And Jurisprudence




Law Of Nations


Philosophy, Psychology, And Religion


Political Science (General)


Political Theory


Practical Theology


Socialism. Communism. Anarchism




Not Categorized

BOLL 71: Lysander Spooner, “Natural Law; or the Science of Justice” (1882)

Lysander Spooner (author)

This is part of “The OLL Reader: An Anthology of the Best of the OLL” which is a collection of some of the most important material in the OLL. A…


Natural Rights

James Wilson asks if man exists for the sake of government, or is government instituted for the sake of man? (1791)

James Wilson

Natural Rights

Jeremy Bentham on rights as a creation of the state alone (1831)

Jeremy Bentham

Natural Rights

Shaftesbury and Learning Goodness

Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury

Property Rights

Wollaston on crimes against person or property as contradictions of fundamental truths (1722)

William Wollaston

Notes About This Collection

Liberty Fund is publishing an extensive collection of works about natural law in its Natural Law and Enlightenment Series including works by Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, and Francis Hutcheson.

See also the following schools of thought which supported the natural law and natural rights tradition:

And the 19th Century Utilitarians which did not.

For further reading on this topic see the works listed below: