Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew Jason Cohen

Second Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen

Third Advisor

Andrew Altman

Fourth Advisor

Christie Hartley


If one has a right merely in virtue of being a person, she cannot lose that right as long as she remained a person – or so I argue. After sketching out what I mean by “natural rights,” “inalienable rights,” and “nonforfeitable rights,” I give some reasons to think any instance of the first would also have to be an instance of the latter two. I then respond to critiques of inalienability by A. John Simmons and Andrew Jason Cohen. After which, I apply the argument given for why natural rights would have to be inalienable as a reason to think they would also have to be nonforfeitable. Then I respond to the idea that the nonforfeitability of natural rights would conflict with self-defense by outlining an alternate account of self-defense. In closing, I consider some potential implications of the inalienability and nonforfeitability of natural rights, should such natural rights exist.