I agree with Andrew Miller, who identifies in his letter "Has He Read Rand?" (Nov. 20) John Locke as the source of the idea that government's sole purpose is to protect individual rights. However, Locke's defense of individual rights was incomplete, stemming from its reliance on a mystical deity to imbue humans with rights. While Locke's philosophical achievement made the founding of the United States possible, it was not enough to counter the arguments of those who sought to limit individual rights. Jeremy Bentham famously called Locke's view on rights "nonsense on stilts" given its reliance on religion.
Ayn Rand's achievement was to firmly identify that individual rights are inherent in the nature of man and no appeal to the irrational was required. Certain incontrovertible actions are necessary for human life to flourish, and governments are instituted to prohibit any curtailment of those actions by others. Ms. Rand's ideas allow the ideals of the Founders to be implemented in a manner that would preclude all the developments of the last two centuries that have immeasurably diminished the freedom of Americans.
AMESH ADALJA, M.D.
Penn, Butler County