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Philosophy, Rights and Natural LawEssays in Honour of Knud Haakonssen$
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Ian Hunter and Richard Whatmore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474449229

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474449229.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

Declaring Rights: Bentham and the Rights of Man

Declaring Rights: Bentham and the Rights of Man

(p.306) 12 Declaring Rights: Bentham and the Rights of Man
Philosophy, Rights and Natural Law

David Lieberman

Edinburgh University Press

Critics who were sceptical of the particular fusion of law and history in natural jurisprudence launched their assaults in the later eighteenth-century from within established religious denominations, or asserted the view that the anticipated reforms would fail, being insufficiently grounded on an accurate portrayal of human nature. The latter approach has been especially associated with Jeremy Bentham, who for many scholars has become the most prominent opponent of rights-based theories. This chapter reconsiders this view, charting Bentham’s view of natural rights from his earliest writings to the summary Constitutional codes developed for post-Napoleonic Europe. The Bentham who emerges, rather than being a consistent enemy of the kinds of declarations of rights that marked the American and French Revolutions, was instead building upon much of the jurisprudence he condemned in his rhetoric. The chapter revises the commonplace view of Bentham and his intellectual origins in consequence.

Keywords:   Jeremy Bentham, Rights of man, Utilitarianism, Constitutionalism, French Revolution, American Revolution

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