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Utility and DemocracyThe Political Thought of Jeremy Bentham$
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Philip Schofield

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208563

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208563.001.0001

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Natural Law and Natural Rights

Natural Law and Natural Rights

Chapter:
(p.51) 3 Natural Law and Natural Rights
Source:
Utility and Democracy
Author(s):

Philip Schofield (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208563.003.0003

Bentham’s theory of logic and language formed the basis of his attack on the related doctrines of natural law and natural rights. Talk about natural law was nonsense because there was no really existing legislator who had enacted it, while the French Declaration of Rights consisted in a series of nonsensical propositions, because there was no really existing legislator who had created the rights in question. Instead, Bentham distinguished between the expositor of the law, who described the law as it existed, and the censor of the law, who put forward reasons, founded on the principle of utility, to show what the law ought to be. It was only in this way that ethics could be reconciled with jurisprudence.

Keywords:   logic, language, utilitarianism, natural rights, natural law, Declaration of Rights, jurisprudence

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