Theory of Natural Rights
One theory that can apply to the above scenario is the natural rights theory. This particular theory by John Locke emphasizes on the total protection of basic human rights and the reliance of all laws on human rights (Finnis, 15). According to John Locke, there is a fundamental duty for everyone to avoid violation of others’ rights (Paul et al., 34).
There are six basic human rights that should be observed. These include security rights, due process rights, political rights, liberty rights, welfare rights and equality rights (Thiroux, 45).
The natural rights theory has several assumptions. The first is that all humans have rights, and other people have a moral duty to avoid the violation of these rights. Secondly, these rights are either from God of from Human nature. The third assumption is that the rights form the foundation of ethics. The fourth assumption is that the individual is more important than the group. The fifth assumption is that human nature is individualistic and self-interested (Finnis, 37).
The theory is based on the supposition that the basic human rights were in existence in the state of nature before the emergence of political and social organization. This supposition has elicited a lot of criticism. One criticism is that the state of nature concept is illogical and unhistorical. The other criticism is that man cannot enjoy rights out of the society, and these rights can only be enjoyed when man is part of society (Paul et al., 50).
1. Consideration of all actions- All the options that are available should be laid on the table for consideration. None should be discarded before it has been given due attention. Such options include whether to continue with bridges’ closure, to open it or even top partially open it.
2. Elimination of options that lead to a clear violation of any individual's negative rights. From all the options listed in regards to the bridge, those that violated other people’s rights should be discarded. Closing the bridge might seem like a violation of human rights to the victims of the hurricane but when the residents of Gretna are considered, the issue becomes ambiguous
3. The remaining options should then be checked to see if they represent any positive rights. Whether the bridge is closed or opened or any if any other action is taken, it should represent the positive rights of all concerned parties
4. When the final action is chosen is one that does not in any way violate any negative or positive rights, then it is ethically and morally permissible. The mayor should fully evaluate the decision before implementing because and if it meets the above condition, the it can be implemented.
Finnis, John. Natural law and natural rights. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.
Paul, Ellen Frankel, Fred Dycus Miller, and Jeffrey Paul. Natural rights liberalism from Locke to Nozick. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.
Thiroux, Jacques P. Ethics: theory and practice. 2d ed. Encino, Calif.: Glencoe Pub. Co.; 1980. Print.