Utilitarianism Essay

Utilitarianism Essay-25
The metaphysical either does not exist, or we cannot perceive it, which comes to the same thing.

The metaphysical either does not exist, or we cannot perceive it, which comes to the same thing.Natural rights are “nonsense upon stilts”, as Bentham would call them, or, as the phrase has been translated into Spanish, in a version more in accord with our political-religious liturgy, “nonsense under the pallium”, absurdities that have been put into an eminent position for the people to admire, and to be amazed by them, without being able to distinguish their quality, real or phantasmagorical.In any event, its Declaration of Rights had already had its answer from John Lind.

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The story I want to tell is that of the attempt made by Bentham to eliminate what today we call human rights from political-legal argumentation, an attempt that responded to weighty reasons, and of John Stuart Mill’s revival of this concept, a revival made with commitment and intellectual daring.

The story is transcendent because it shows us the dangers that legal positivism detected in iusnaturalism, lest these dangers reappear; and, on the other hand, because the theoretical status that Mill gave to human rights still prevails, broadly speaking, in our days, a status that puts them as one the fundaments of the political and social order of the free world.

Edmund Burke reacted violently to the Revolution from its first moments, both for its bloody excesses and its policy of economic confiscation, as well as for the universal and timeless abstraction of the rights it proclaimed.

The bloodstained spectacle of the heads of the king’s guards carried in triumph on pikes from Versailles to Paris caused a shudder of repulsion as electrifying as the confiscation of the properties of the church, the clergy and the nobles as a way of paying off the crushing national debt.

These reasons arose from the contemplation of the events, contemporaneous with Bentham, that happened during the American, and even more during the French, revolutions.

Bentham sympathised with the American Revolution because it appeared more as a struggle for colonial emancipation than as a civil war or a revolution, and thus it had to appeal more to the anti-imperialist convictions of a liberal.

Thirdly, there are reasons that result from the analytical method chosen by Bentham.

An expression of the most genuine Enlightenment attitude, the analytical method demands that any reality is broken down into its simplest units, into its elements, and it cannot be divided further.

Natural rights precede positive law, prior to the order given by someone that the senses can perceive.

They proceed from the Creator or Nature, from a nature personified and principled; natural rights are metaphysical in the old style, in the strong, pre-Kantian sense.


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