At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Professor of Political Philosophy Solomon D. Stevens argues that those who claim that taking simple measures to protect the public health, arguing that such measures somehow violate their “rights,” clearly do not understand the concept of “rights” in civil society. An excerpt (emphasis added):
The doctrine of natural rights was developed in English philosophy by Thomas Hobbes and then revised and expanded by John Locke as part of what has become known as social-contract theory. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he drew heavily on Locke’s theory. What the anti-mask and anti-vaccination people do not understand (or refuse to admit) is that, while social contract theory celebrates rights that are absolute and unlimited in the state of nature, it also mandates that rights be modified and limited once we agree to live together in civil society. There is no such thing as an absolute right once we choose to live together in a community.