more from Jeremy Bentham

Single Idea 21003

[catalogued under 25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights]

Full Idea

Right, the substantive right, is the child of law; from real laws come real rights; but from imaginary laws, from 'law of nature' can come only imaginary rights.

Gist of Idea

Only laws can produce real rights; rights from 'law of nature' are imaginary


Jeremy Bentham (Anarchical Fallacies: on the Declaration of Rights [1796], II.523), quoted by Amartya Sen - The Idea of Justice 17 'Ethics'

Book Reference

Sen, Amartya: 'The Idea of Justice' [Penguin 2010], p.361

A Reaction

I am coming to agree with this. What are called 'natural rights' are just self-evident good reasons why someone should be allowed a right. A right can, of course, come from an informal agreement. The question is: why award that particular legal right?

Related Idea

Idea 21004 Hart (against Bentham) says human rights are what motivate legal rights [Hart,HLA, by Sen]