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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Inalienable vs. Unalienable Rights

Inalienable Rights are defined as: Rights which are not capable of being surrendered or transferred without the consent of the one possessing such rights.
According to Morrison v. State, Mo. App., 252 S.W.2d 97, 101.

Unalienable Rights are defined as: [Rights which are] incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition.

This is a fairly important philosophical distinction that has been lost through the evolution of language. It is highly important to understand that when the two words did hold separate meanings, the Declaration committee of the Continental Congress opted to use the word, “unalienable,” in the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, over Jefferson’s original wording which included, ‘inalienable.’

Without getting too deep into meta-ethics, it’s clear that the committee supported the idea that human rights, or Natural Rights, where inherent to all people and could not be transferred, even by those having the rights. Most importantly – these rights where not created by governments – but rather, where acknowledged to already pre-exist and supersede government.

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