Rights of an Individual

Individual in the world have the freedom to exercise their rights. Rights are moral principles which defines actions of a persons in the society. The issue however is how or to what extent they exercise the rights. For example, one has a right of speech, but if the person exaggerates by screaming 'fire' in a crowded area, then this will be like abusing the right because it is not for the common good of others as it causes panic. A person though has the right to personal property, establishment of for example a methanol lab in it may lead to loss of the property and the liberty may be taken by the laws.

If the personal rights violates the rights of others, it can therefore not be referred to as a right. The trade off therefore lies on the level which a person wants to loose the liberty and freedom. People need  to exercise their rights but keep in mind the issue of common good because if a person proofs harm as a result of the undertaking of others, even thought its within their rights, a legal system cab be applied to look out for the common good and can be made to pay for their harm.

The utilitarianism theory can also be applied in this case, the theory simply says that actions of a person are good so long as they promote the greatest good for the greatest number of people. There are many expectations that a society requires from an individual living in it. One of them is to exercise their rights in ways which will not bring negative issues from the society, the society expects them to conduct themselves responsibly and exercise their right in the right manner without violating the rights of others.

If a person decides to dump trash in his/her private property, this will not be a common good to the neighbors due to bad smell which may come from it, people therefore need to be conscious of their deeds even though they have the rights to do so. According to (National Vital Statistic Reports, 2004), people who smoke have many restrictions from the society, this is because smoking usually results to negative effects to the person smoking and people in the society and is therefore not seen as a common good.

Although the smokers have the right to smoke its effects are more harmful as they may cause health problems such as cancer to other people who get in contact with the smoke. Governments of several states and countries have enacted anti-smoking policies where smokers are restricted from smoking in public places, some have set apart smoking areas where the smoker are allowed to smoke at and if a person is spotted smoking out of that place, it can result to an arrest and fine on the victim.

The health risks from smoking have external financial consequences for the society, due to sicknesses and premature deaths of smokers who would have otherwise contributed to the society in a better way. This shows that smoking don't bring a common good to the society rather it results in many losses. Non smokers in the society are forced to make extra expenditures so that they can support smokers. Net results in Canada show that each Canadian contributes 100 dollars annually towards heath related costs so that they can 35% of residents can smoke, this makes smokers a financial burden to others. (United States Congress, 1995)

Further more, smoking is linked to respiratory illnesses and heart diseases, and is the leading source indoor air pollution in most residential and work places. In the United States, 53000 deaths of non-smokers each year, almost one smoker for each eight smokers killed have been linked to passive smoking habits of smokers. (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2001) Employers have reached a point where they are putting orders in the workplaces where the employees are not meant to smoke either within or outside their work places because they are concerned about the decremental effect that they bring to the society.

Although it is an interference of personal rights, it is for the common good of the entire society. Over 20 states in America don't have laws which prevent employers from firing employees who smoke outside their areas of work, this means that the employers are free to fire whoever is found guilty and although this may seem like a violation of personal rights, smoking results to more harm than good. Its implementation therefore results to a cleaner and more healthy environment to live in for both the smokers and the non-smokers therefore bringing a common good to all.

By August 2001, 234 United States communities had enacted ordnances requiring work places to be smoke-free. (Caroline & Stanton, 2002). This move not only protects the non-smokers but also creates a suitable environment for the smokers to cut on their smoking habit or leave it all together. A study conducted between totally smoke-free workplace where smoking is not allowed even outside the working place and in smoke-free areas where it is allowed outside work area, show that  the totally smoke-free workplaces had almost a double effect on consumption and reverence of the users as compared to places which allowed smoking in some areas.

This is because in totally smoke-free areas, people are forced not to smoke even outside therefore it is more effective. This move by organizations protect the society both in the workplace and outside therefore bring a common good to everyone, (Caroline & Stanton, 2002). Another issues which brings controversy in people while trying to find whether it is for the common good or freedom of practicing personal rights is the issue of same sex marriage. People are free to love whoever they want and a violation of personal rights is done when people of same sex are not allowed to have the relationship.

(Michael, 2007). The democratic justice requires an equal treatment of all citizens unless the treatment overrides common good of the public. People who support the same-sex marriages argue that God wanted us to love each other equally and give mutual love to all, the say that the preference given to woman and man marriages are unconvincing as they do not bring a common good to those of the same-sex relationships. (Stanley, 2007) On the other side, it is said that same-sex marriages are not for the common good of people in the society.

Marriages were initially conducted as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman and therefore it is a violation of rights for same sex marriages to occur. These kind of relationships brings confusion in the society and is not morally right, They cannot make a complete family and children who may be adopted in such families may have problems since the 'parents' are of same sex. The relationship also violates ethics of the society and do not bring a common good rather it only favors those in the relationship.

(Stanley, 2007) In a case of Goodridge v. Mass in the department of health, in 2003, Massachusetts gay marriage decision was made where the same-sex couples were barred to access protections, obligations and benefits of civil marriage. It was said that a person who enters into an intimate and exclusive relationship with another person of the same sex will be deprived off membership in one of the community's most rewarding institutions because the society's rights are violated.

Thy further say that the exclusion is compatible with the principle of the constitution of respect for autonomy and equality of individuals under the law. In conclusion, people in the society need to consider their deeds, are they in conformity with the society's expectations, are they for the common good of all? people should carry out their activities putting in mind what is right and what brings a common good to everyone. One should not misuse their personal rights just because they have the right to use them, they should ensure that their personal rights do not interfere with other people's rights.

Smokers in the society need to look at the dangers which they pose to others and themselves, they should therefore ensure that they do not violate others rights. They can do this by refraining from their smoking habits or seek help from professionals who deal with such issues. This will therefore help to reduce the bad effects brought by smoking such as heath issues, loss of jobs and even death. People who support same sex marriages should also look at the negative effects which it brings to the society and especially to the young people (Mary, 2007).

They should therefore not only look at the personal rights that people have but they should ask themselves whether it is for the common right of all.


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