Human and Civil Rights in the Enlightenment Philosophy

Marian Skrzypek

The differentiation between human and civil rights in the Enlightenment philosophy is connected with two tendencies to interpret social phenomena, which appeared in the thought of ancient Sophists and Stoics and were fully developed by the 18th century philosophers (Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, Mably) along with the ideologists of French and American revolutions (Jeff erson, Paine, Marat, Robespierre). Naturalism and conventionalism are those two tendencies. Naturalism put emphasis on individual rights of the human being conceived as a biological entity to preserve life. Conventionalism pointed to human rights of citizens stemming from the social contract. Coming close of those two tendencies appeared in the human and civic declarations in the period of the French Revolution in 1789, 1791, 1793, 1795. The natural human rights were best taken into account in the declaration from 1793.


Keywords: Republicanism · naturalism · conventionalism · human rights · civil rights · natural rights · positive rights · social contract · general will · sovereignty of the people

Marian Skrzypek — Professor emeritus at IFiS Pan. Romanist and historian of philosophy and religion. He specialized in the Enlightenment Thought, chiefly French and Polish. Author of the monographs on Diderot, Holbach, Maréchal; he also translated their works into Polish. He wrote: French Enlightenment and rudiments of religious studies (1989); he also published within the book series „700 years of Polish thought” a volume regarding Polish philosophy between 1700 — 1763. Laureate of the French Academic Palms.   »  

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