Recent Question/Assignment

During the 18th century many revolutions were inspired by the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers focused on the idea of natural rights. They felt that all people were born with certain rights which no government could deny them. Many of these thinkers pushed back against the idea of absolute monarchies and instead advocated for more limited governments which would protect the rights of citizens. In many ways these ideas inspired both the American (1775) and French (1789) revolutions. Our modern concept of human rights is closely linked to the ideas developed in this time period. In this assignment, you explore ideas of natural rights by creating your own modern list of rights inspired by the Enlightenment movement and current societal values. This assignment will have two required parts.
Part One: The Enlightenment and Its Thinkers
For this portion of the assignment, you will research the Enlightenment and provide some background on what this movement was and what it hoped to achieve. You will also choose one important Enlightenment thinker from the following list and explain the ideas that they contributed to the movement. Focus specifically on their ideas regarding government, natural rights, human nature, or the reforms they proposed for society. You may choose from the list of individuals below. This should be written in paragraph format and should be approximately 250 words in length.
• Baron Montesquieu
• John Locke
• Thomas Hobbes
• Jean-Jacques Rosseau
• Voltaire
• David Hume
• Thomas Jefferson
• Frederick the Great
• Immanuel Kant
Part Two: The Rights of Man
For part two of this assignment, you will look at two documents from the Enlightenment that dealt with the idea of natural rights. First, you will read the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. This document was drafted by revolutionaries during the French Revolution and outlined the values that the revolution was fighting for. Afterwards, you will read the American Bill of Rights which was drafted following the American Revolution in 1791. This document similarly outlined the rights that the founders of the United States felt could never be denied to citizens. Both contain similar rights and values that were inspired by the Enlightenment.
After you read these two documents, you will generate your own Declaration of Rights which outlines at least ten important natural rights that you feel everyone should be entitled to in our modern world. Remember that Enlightenment thinkers were often inspired by others, so you can draw upon the previous two documents for inspiration. Be careful to present these rights in your own way and utilize powerful language to emphasize the importance of these rights.
Your Declaration of Rights should:
1. Include a preamble (or introduction) explaining the idea of natural rights and why people are entitled to them.
2. Contain a list of at least ten rights that you believe all human beings have.
• Each right should be explained clearly and with details about why you believe this right exists.
3. Be clearly inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment.
4. Reflect your own views on natural rights.