Ideas And Summary: James Mill's Theory Of Rights

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4.1. James Mill’s Idea of Rights James Mill clarified the Utilitarian approach to the subject of rights in his writing, Jurisprudence, which he wrote for the Supplement to the Encyclopedia Brittanica. According to him, the rights rank above the duties. He opined that “science distinguished by the name of Jurisprudence, is the protection of rights”. However, James Mill’s conception of rights was in contrast to that of the Benthamite conception of rights. For him, there cannot be any existence of pre-legal rights as they are only metaphysical. Therefore, he spoke only of legal rights. Mill writes that rights are artificially developed and created by the will of the people. It has existed as a result of the will of the society or that of those who yield the powers of the society. James Mill’s theory of rights is in consistence with that of Bentham. He situates the legal rights with the entire legal system of which it is a part, under the utilitarian principle of maximum criterion of political correctness. Rights, for him, serve as signs which are the abbreviations of the meanings that they express. These meanings are juridical in nature and have powers in them, be it over a person or a thing. Rights, however, import obligations with them. If a man gains the right to the services of another man, then it would entail the obligation on the other person to serve this man. Therefore, it becomes impossible to create a right without simultaneously, creating an obligation on
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