Individual Rights versus Common Good (Natural Rights Philosophy versus Classical Republicanism)

Lesson Duration

How do we balance individual rights and the common good?

Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 9.37.24 AM

Learning Targets:

  • analyze the tensions between individual rights (Natural Rights Philosophy) and the common good (Classical Republicanism) by discussing current and historical examples
  • determine where you stand regarding these issues and explain why
  • monitor local, state, national affairs

Anticipatory: Pass out the NRP-CR Notes handout and have students review the summary boxes. Then, show students a short video clip that illustrates a current tension between individual rights and the common good, such as this one on airport security, and refer them to the example notes.

Jigsaw select articles that highlight some current tensions between individual rights and the common good (see below for a list of possible articles). Allow students time to skim through articles individually (this could also be done as homework), then place them in small groups to:

  • read and summarize articles; marking the text
  • ask clarifying questions and talk about: What are the arguments for individual rights? The common good?
  • discuss where they personally stand and why (encourage students to share personal experiences)
  • select a representative from their group to report to the rest of the class about their article topic, tensions/ small group discussion

Whole class – Utilizing PowerPoint or Pear Deck Slides, take the class through the different issues presented in the selected articles. For each article, representatives from the small groups give a brief background/ summary of their articles to the rest of the class. Students may document the examples in their NRP/ CR Notes handout. Then, each student may place him/ herself on a spectrum (physically or utilizing Pear Deck draggable slides) for the whole class to see the diversity/ range of where people in the class stand with regards to the issues.

Possible Articles:

Accommodation 1: Teacher numbers the article along the margins – instructions:

  • Find article
  • Select printer-friendly format
  • Select PDF preview
  • Copy and paste to Word document
  • Go over formatting – change font size, delete advertising, check for and fix “shifted” sentences
  • Go to Layout tab
  • Select “Line Numbers”
  • Select “continuous”
  • Look over the numbers and delete extra numbers (usually at the end; sometimes blank spaces are numbered)
  • Save/ print

Accommodation 2: Article Organizer and Marking the Text

Citizenship and Government: Civic Skills – Standard 3: The United States is based on democratic values and principles that include liberty, individual rights, justice, equality, the rule of law, limited government, common good, popular sovereignty, majority rule and minority rights. Benchmarks: -


Learning Law and Democracy Foundation