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The Limits of Ethics in International RelationsNatural Law, Natural Rights, and Human Rights in Transition$
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David Boucher

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203529

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203529.001.0001

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Nonsense Upon Stilts? Tocqueville, Idealism, and the Expansion of the Moral Community

Nonsense Upon Stilts? Tocqueville, Idealism, and the Expansion of the Moral Community

Chapter:
(p.217) 8 Nonsense Upon Stilts? Tocqueville, Idealism, and the Expansion of the Moral Community
Source:
The Limits of Ethics in International Relations
Author(s):

DAVID BOUCHER

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203529.003.0009

This chapter examines how the natural rights and natural law traditions ceased to become compelling and how they became philosophically bankrupt by the latter part of 19th century. Edmund Burke, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx did not criticize natural rights as such but on the way it was traditionally conceived with the declaration of the rights of man during the French Revolution. They did not subscribe to the idea of an original contract that established governments to protect pre-existing rights. They also believe that a social contract is a fiction that even if there was an agreement among individuals in a state of nature it could have no obligatory force.

Keywords:   natural rights, natural laws, social contract, government, Edmund Burke, Jeremy Bentham, Karl Marx

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