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Subject:  Re: Week 3 Reading: Bentham: Critique of Natural Date:  8/20/2012  8:46 AM
Author:  tabs101 Number:  23710 of 23810

Since John Locke spent so much time talking about the law of nature, which is based on reason, and the corresponding natural law and rights, I thought this week we would take a look at a text that is critical of natural rights: Critique of the Doctrine of Inalienable, Natural Rights by Jeremy Bentham (from From Jeremy Bentham, Anarchical Fallacies, vol. 2 of Bowring (ed.), Works, 1843.).

Bentham begins by referring to the Declaration of Rights published by the French assembly in 1791 (not sure if this is the Declaration of the Rights of Man that was written in 1789). He says that the topic of that text is both "unbound" and important.

(My comments on Bentham’s text end here. That was fast! I’d like to reflect on Locke’s idea of natural law before proceeding.)

Many (some?) are willing to concede that the idea of a state of nature, whether real or hypothetical, is a logical place to begin a discussion about the origins of government or civil society. Government is created by man; therefore, it did not always exist. So discussing what life was like before man created government is logical, if not highly speculative.

Less agreement has existed over issues of consent, which Locke considered a key component of a just government. How is consent given, especially by those who were not around when the government was created?

In addition, and the focus of Bentham's efforts, questions arise over the idea of natural law and natural rights. In a state of nature, one might argue, if government does not exist then laws do not exist, including natural laws, whatever that means.
Locke contends that natural laws are real. They are based on the nature of man. In a previous pos