Essay about The Idea of Natural Rights by Individuals

Submitted By sophiah12
Words: 1006
Pages: 5

Human rights are rights and freedom that an individual has regardless of their citizenship and nationality. They are primarily important in supporting a civilised and fair society (Ministry of Justice, 2006). This essay will discuss the political thinking of Karl Marx, John Locke and Jeremy Bentham and their idea that the power of natural rights by individuals is ‘nonsense upon stilts’. The first part of the essay will assess the idea of rights and the difference between legal and moral rights. The second part of the essay will begin to explore natural rights and how human rights were introduced. Thirdly the essay considers the philosophical concept of a human right and analyses the formal and substantive distinctions, philosophers have drawn between various forms and categories of rights which proceed to discuss the main criticisms between Marx, Locke and Bentham. Finally a brief conclusion is presented summarising the idea of natural rights by Individuals is “nonsense upon stilts”.

Bentham was a philosopher who criticised natural rights as "nonsense upon stilts," and was unyielding in his insistence that rights must be legally enacted and enforceable by clearly named rights providers, such as governments. Natural rights theory was the radical policy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, being utilized to support resistance to unjust laws and revolution against tyrannical governments. Jeremy Bentham, in his criticism of the French Declaration of Rights (1789), called natural rights "anarchical fallacies," on the grounds that he alleged that no government can meet the values required by the doctrine of natural rights. According the Bentham, natural rights are “simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense, — nonsense upon stilts”, allegedly moral and natural rights are bad fictions and revolutionary myths that encourage civil unrest, defiance and resistance to laws and revolution against founded by governments, have “any determinate and intelligible meaning.” Rights are “the fruits of the law, the law alone. There are no rights deprived of the law—no rights opposing to the law—no rights anterior to the law.” The importance of Bentham does not lie in his advocacy of social utility, or the general welfare, of the common good for his statements however it was respected by many classical liberals as the point behind legislation, in contradistinction to its standard.
Bentham stated that the term “natural right” is a “parody of language”. It is It is "vague," "emotional" and "symbolic" and it has revolutionary consequences. Such a right can inform us that what we have to do; it cannot work as a legal restriction on what we can or cannot do. According to Bentham, he states that there a general rights- which are rights over no certain purpose so that an individual would claim on whatever they prefer. The result of implementing such a general, natural “right” would be to establish the right altogether since “what is every man’s right is no man’s right”. No legal system can work with an open conception of rights. Therefore there cannot be any general rights suggested by the French declarations.
Additionally, the idea of natural rights is metaphorical. Similarly, there are no specific rights anterior to government. Bentham states that the hypothesis of the presence of these rights appears to be originated from the theory of the social contract. Individuals create a society and select a government through the estrangement of their rights. However such a policy is unhistorical, whereas according to Bentham it does not even work as a beneficial fiction to understand the source of political authority.
The assumption of a natural right is "revolutionary." Bentham states that such a right involves a freedom from all limitation and, specifically, from all legitimate restriction. Since a natural right would be anterior to law, it could not be restricted by law, if everybody had such freedom, the result