Anarchical Fallacies

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Bentham, Jeremy. 1816. Anarchical Fallacies.


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Jeremy Bentham's scathing criticism of the revolutionary French "Declaration of Human Rights", containing the best denunciation of the idea of natural rights ever: "nonsense on stilts".


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How is property given? By restraining liberty; that is, by taking it away so far as is necessary for the purpose. How is your house made yours? By debarring every one else from the liberty of entering it without your leave.
Jeremy Bentham, "Anarchical FallaciesAnarchical Fallacies"
Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense -- nonsense upon stilts. [...] Right, the substantive right, is the child of law; from real laws come real rights; from imaginary laws, from laws of nature, fancied and invented by poets, rhetoricians, and dealers in moral and intellectual poisons, come imaginary rights, a bastard brood of monsters....
Jeremy Bentham, "Anarchical FallaciesAnarchical Fallacies"