Which right exemplifies an Enlightenment idea?

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Another important right which is an example of an Enlightenment-period idea is the idea that in order for any political system or government to be legitimate, it had to respect certain basic human rights. These rights varied, but some included the recognition that men were free and equal, that they had to consent to being governed rather than being subject to an arbitrary and absolute ruler, and that they had religious freedom (really, that religious diversity should be tolerated). The Enlightenment thinker John Locke theorized in his 1689 The Second Treatise of Civil Government, for example, that kings did not have absolute authority over their subjects but that subjects had natural freedom and that any political authority could not be legitimate if it did not respect and enable that natural freedom.

Another Enlightenment thinker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, wrote in his 1762 On the Social Contract, that human freedom could only be attained in a democracy in which all citizens participated and were equal members. In other words, the political system or government had to be attuned to and respectful of human rights and freedom in order to be legitimate. Rousseau went as far as saying that a sort of universal morality and human rights were inextricable from and taught by reason itself, reason being a key tenet of the Enlightenment.

It is important, however, to keep in mind that these basic human rights were often not intended to be extended to all segments of the population and that women and people of color were often excluded from this discourse. So, there are inherent tensions in the Enlightenment discussion over government and human rights. However, this idea of human rights is still a key Enlightenment-period idea.

For further reading, I would recommend the attached website, as well as Kate E. Tunstall’s edited volume, Self-Evident Truths? Human Rights and the Enlightenment.

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One right that people in Western societies take for granted (and one that is protected in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution) is religious freedom. While many rights, like trial by jury and various property rights, have their origins in English common law, the right to religious freedom was really first asserted during the Enlightenment. John Locke, in his "Letter on Religious Toleration," asserted that "care of souls is not committed to the civil magistrate," suggesting that religion was essentially a private matter, and that belief could not in any case be compelled. Voltaire, the celebrated philosopher, admired English society in no small part because religious minorities were permitted to exist there. He saw religious freedom as indispensable for civil order. The Preamble to the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson, stated the Enlightened case for religious freedom more explicitly than had any previous work. Arguing that "Almighty God hath created the mind free," Jefferson asserted that religious freedom was a "natural right," inviolable by civil law. 

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