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Natural rights are the idea in which human beings are owners of certain rights by nature, by the fact that they are born humans. That being said, one should be able to determine whether something is human to value if it is capable of bearing rights. For one to be able to do that, there must be some inherent properties that humans have. If there is something like that, then there is some human essence. The collateral discussion is: how worrisome is to distinguish human beings by some inherent properties?

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  • This is one possible interpretation, and a controversial one. See Gregg, Against Essentialism in Conceptions of Human Rights and Human Nature for a criticism of it:"Disagreement follows in part from essentialist understandings of human nature as well as... human rights. Broad agreement could be facilitated by a "political" and naturalistic understanding of both... Human nature could be construed politically as the self-understanding of the human species in response to the question: To what kind of human nature should we humans aspire?"
    – Conifold
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 20:01
  • But the historical conception was, indeed, essentialist, with emphasis on God-given "human nature", see Tierney, The Idea of Natural Rights-Origins and Persistence.
    – Conifold
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 20:05
  • Indeed if wrong properties are attributed to human essences then wrong natural rights would unavoidably follow, is free will such a human essence? How about emotions such as pleasure and pain? What's the essence of a rock? Are its color and hardness its essences? Are they necessarily bundled together or could be separated?... Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 5:54

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