Thursday, 21 December 2000

From "Critique of Doctrine of Inalienable, Natural Rights"

By Jeremy Bentham.

How stands the truth of things? That there are no such things as natural rights -- no such things as rights anterior to the establishment of government -- no such things as natural rights opposed to, in contradistinction to, legal: that the expression is merely figurative; that when used, in the moment you attempt to give it a literal meaning it leads to error, and to that sort of error that leads to mischief -- to the extremity of mischief.

We know what it is for men to live without government -- and living without government, to live without rights: we know what it is for men to live without government, for we see instances of such a way of life -- we see it in many savage nations, or rather races of mankind [...]

In proportion to the want of happiness resulting from the want of rights, a reason exists for wishing that there were such things as rights. But reasons for wishing there were such things as rights, are not rights; -- a reason for wishing that a certain right were established, is not that right -- want is not supply -- hunger is not bread.

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