The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness: What Exactly is it?

Görkem Birinci

The American Declaration of Independence has not only represented the birth certificate of the USA, but also has been involved in the most significant documents of political history. In the second paragraph of the declaration, which is the most philosophical and well-known section, it has been stated that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. However, although it has been expressed that all men are endowed with these rights is a self-evident truth, the nature of the right to the pursuit of happiness has never been that self-evident neither in the past nor today. The principle purpose of this study is, first, to investigate the reason of existence of the ‘right to the pursuit of happiness’ in such a declaration and the nature of the right. This is carried out by considering the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, who popularized the right in question. The study thus addresses the question of whether the right to the pursuit of happiness is really a human right as well as its connection with the idea of modern human rights.


The right to the pursuit of happiness, Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, human rights.