Valencia Community College Unalienable Rights & Independence Source Discussion


The Reading Assignment contains (usually) two questions pertaining to short sections of (usually) primary sources. Primary sources are the original writings of important philosophers, not textbook accounts, summaries, or expert explanations of original writings. (Expert explanations, textbook accounts, etc. are called ‘secondary sources.’) The primary sources are (usually) provided as links to free online sources. Detailed instructions identify the exact passages to read.

Please note that this is NOT a research assignment. You should NOT search for additional information on the text(s) or its author(s) or try to find ‘the right answers’ to the Reading Assignment Questions. Rather, you should ‘struggle’ with the text(s) and make sure to answer all parts of the questions completely and thoroughly to the best of your understanding.

Your Reading Assignment submission will be checked for plagiarism. See syllabus for plagiarism policy and academic integrity guidelines.

The Reading Assignment is due by the due date specified in the course calendar. Late submissions (as marked by Canvas) will result in ‘0’ points for the Reading Assignment. Please make sure to carefully follow the directions provided and adhere to the deadline specified in the course calendar.


The Declaration of Independence (Links to an external site.). Please read the Declaration of Independence.

After careful reflection, please answer the following questions:

  1. In the Declaration of Independence, what do you think is meant by ‘unalienable’ rights? Where do they come from? How are they justified? Please make sure to be specific and carefully explain your reasoning.
  2. Now consider moral decision-making. How exactly does the framework of ‘unalienable’ rights (natural rights) establish morality? What would be an example of a behavior that these rights would establish as morally wrong? Please make sure to be specific and carefully explain your reasoning.

Your response to each question should be about 300 – 400 words in length, but please feel free to be as detailed as you wish. Your responses must be written in full sentences, logically structured, using proper grammar and spelling, and appropriate style. It is recommended that you write out your answers using a word processing program and copy and paste the completed response. This will avoid loss of work in case of internet outage, etc. Always keep a backup copy of all written work.


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