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Difference between Rights and Privileges

Difference between Rights and Privileges

Privileges and rights are two utterly different terms barely related to each other. On the one hand, a right is considered inherent and represents something that exists without permission from any authority, a good example being the right to life. On the other hand, a privilege is considered a grant of permission to do something from an existing authority. This means that it can be controlled and reviewed. To put things into perspective, one can boast of the right to shelter and then have the privilege of owning more than one resident; there is the right to education, but attending graduate school is a privilege. As such, a right can be treated as a basic necessity, but privilege comes from expounding on that necessity. 

According to Aceves (2019), even though rights were originally immune to interference, their expansion from the basic needs of life has created the need for some form of regulation. As such, any claim to what one believes to be rightfully theirs must be evaluated to ensure they are not taking advantage of the bill of rights. As for the privilege, people tend to enjoy it even though it is not a credit to their work. Considering that most privileges are expensive, it is important to have some regulation to ensure they are given to the most deserving people. A case example is the privilege of high education scholarship, which should be given to the most promising students for maximum returns.

However, when applying legal standards to the right, care should be taken to ensure that it does not touch on natural rights. Markedly, any form of regulation on natural rights, regardless of the intention, turns it from being a right into being a mere privilege. The saddest part is that the government and legal institutions are constantly doing this to what were once rights.


Aceves, W. J. (2019). A Distinction with a Difference: Rights, Privileges, and the Fourteenth Amendment. Tex. L. Rev. Online98, 1.

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