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Unit II

T E X T 1

Rights and restraints

Because completely unrestricted freedom of action would make peaceful human existence impossible, some restraints on freedom of action are necessary and inevitable. Virtually all codes of action recognize that basic limitation . Liberty is in such codes as the right of individuals to act without restraint as long as actions do not interfere with the equivalent right of others; acts that do violate the right of other are rejected as license.

The nature and extent of the restraints to be imposed and the selection of the means of enforcing them have been important problems for philosophers and lawmakers throughout history. Almost all the solutions finally arrived at have recognized the fundamental need for a government, meaning an individual or group of individuals empowered to compose and enforce whatever restraints are deemed necessary. In modern times, great emphasis has also been placed on the need for laws to define the nature and extent of these restraints. The philosophy of anarchism is an exception; it objects to all governments as evil themselves and substitutes an idealized society in which social restraint is achieved through individual observance of high ethical principles.

A perfect balance between the right of an individual to act without undue interference and the need of the community to restrain freedom of action has often been projected in theory but has never been achieved. The restraints imposed throughout most of history have been oppressive. History has been described as society’s progress from a state of anarchy, through periods of liberty for every individual under democratic governments; history has thus been shaped by the natural desire of all people to be free.

T E X T 2

Dissemination of liberties

In antiquity, liberty meant national freedom; slavery was considered a necessary institution of society. Liberty in medieval tomes related primarily to social groups seeking to wrest certain privileges from the sovereigns against whom they contended for power. This kind of struggle resulted in the Magna Carta. Imposed in the 13th century on John, kind of England, by a group of barons; the document has great significance in the progress of human liberty. As the Middle Ages came to an end, the Renaissance raised problems of intellectual freedom, challenging the established dogma of the Catholic church; later still the reformation further promoted ideas of religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

There great revolutions helped to define individual liberty and ensure its preservation. In 17th-century England, the Glorious Revolution was the culmination of several hundred years of gradual imposition of judicial and legislative restraints upon the monarchy. The Bill of Rights, adopted by the English Parliament in 1689, established representative government in England.

The American Revolution of 1776 joined the problems of achieving individual liberty with those of creating a new state. The Declaration of independence issued by the American revolutionists reflected centuries of freedom in England. The second great charter of liberty to issue from the American Revolution was the U.S. Constitution. In its first ten amendments, know as the Bill of rights, the Constitution established guarantees of civil rights.

The French Revolution of 1789 destroyed the feudal system in France and established reprehensive government. In the Enlightenment, the body of thought that molded the thinking of the leaders of the French Revolution, liberty was defined as a natural right of man, a right to act without interference from any source but nevertheless requiring voluntary submission to necessary limitation in order that the benefits of organized social existence might be enjoyed. Challenging the theory of the right of kings to rule new theory held that the source of all govemental power was the people, and that tyranny began when the natural right of men were violated. From the French Revolution came the Declaration of the Right of Man and of Citizen, which served as a model for most of the declarations of liberty adopted by European states in the 19th century.

T E X T 3

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