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

Lesson Duration

From Learning Law and Democracy Foundation

How do we balance individual rights and the common good?

Learning Targets:

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

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 the Pear Deck Slides, take the class through the different issues. For each article, representatives from the small groups give a brief background/ summary of their articles to the rest of the class.Students may notes the examples in their NRP/ CR Notes handout. Then, each student should place him/ herself on the Pear Deck spectrum for the whole class to see the diversity/ range of where people in the class stand with regards to the issues.

Possible Articles:

NRP-CR Notes handout: NRP-CR Notes

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