The Motley Fool Discussion Boards

Previous Page

Politics & Current Events / Libertarian Fools

URL:  http://boards.fool.com/bentham-critiques-the-declaration-of-rights-given-30216060.aspx

Subject:  Re: Week 3 Reading: Bentham: Critique of Natural Date:  8/21/2012  9:30 AM
Author:  tabs101 Number:  23711 of 23810

Bentham critiques the Declaration of Rights, given its difficult topic, the natural rights of man, for being produced by committee, a work of many hands that was subsequently sanctioned by government. Not just any government, but a government composed of many disparate parts, suggesting, I think, the impact that the composition of such a varied group will have on notions of “rights”. In addition, he appears to be saying that these facts, who wrote it and what they were writing about, will undermine the overall accuracy and truth of the document.

Further, since the “penners” of this text acquired their power through “insurrection”, they can be seen as creating ideas that justify the revolution. Ironically, though, when a group justifies revolution, they invite it, he observes. These founding fathers are like assassins seeking a title, seeking legitimacy through words. By saying to the masses, here are your rights: if government violates them, even a tiny bit, you have the right ( no, a duty!) to overthrow it, a shaky foundation for government is being laid.

Bentham thinks that the ideas contained in this text are appealing to the selfish passions of the populace. Curtailing these passions is the “great” aim of government, and here a government is arousing these destructive sentiments. Yet this text is honored? (refers to the incendiary of the Ephesian temple..look that up). What is the morality of this document?

The text is “nonsense”, he writes. It uses vague words to distort. He criticizes the document for not acknowledging its limitations, for not including the many caveats and distinctions which a text on this topic demands. “Trite” and “unmeaning” are used in this paragraph by Bentham to convey his disdain.

Quoting from the Declaration:
Article II
The end in view of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
Bentham now attack