what ideas where present in Thomas Paine's work, Rights of Man?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Rights of Man, published in 1791, Thomas Paine argues in favor of political revolutions in societies where people feel that their natural rights are not adequately protected by the government. The text was written in support of the French Revolution, particularly to refute conservative scholar Edmund Burke's condemnation of the revolution. Paine opposes Burke's position that a hereditary nobility is necessary to ensure stability for the lower class majority, and argues that ability to govern cannot be proven hereditary. Additionally, Paine refutes Burke's reliance on the monarchy by arguing that each generation should have the right to structure its government and leadership in a way that they feel most accurately protects their rights. Paine utilizes the Enlightenment philosophical tenet of natural rights, or the set of inalienable rights that all people should have the ability to access. The concept of natural rights opposes absolute monarchy, and instead favors the use of democracy and social contract.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team