My interest in the philosophical problems connected with doctrines of inalienable human rights, specifically rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, was first aroused in 1946 through my studies with Professor Leo Strauss, at that time a member of the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science at The New School for Social Research. In my subsequent studies, both at the New School for Social Research and at the University of Chicago, I have concerned myself with related problems of political theory. In 1953, I completed a Ph.D. dissertation (for The New School for Social Research) on the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. That dissertation provided the raw material for parts of this essay. It is essentially an introductory work: as the final chapters imply, I shall attempt to reinterpret and re-evaluate the doctrines of human rights which are here treated historically in terms of contemporary natural and social science. A statement of what I believe to be the chief philosophical problems involved in such a reinterpretation appears in my article: "Human Rights -- Anachronism or Current Creed" ( Revista de Ciencias Sociales, College of Social Sciences, U.P.R., Vol. I, No. 4).
I wish to thank, for their inspiration, their valuable lectures, and their careful reading of portions of this manuscript,