Jeremy Bentham's Anarchical Fallacies

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Jeremy Bentham wrote an essay titled “Anarchical Fallacies” , where he attacked the much ragingly popular notion of human rights in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 1789. The two schools that come into play in his writing are the Positivist School and Natural Law School of law. These two schools have been at odds with one another since time immemorial and in the current paper, the researcher aims to delve into the debate persisting between the two schools. Bentham, a true positivist, shuns natural rights as mere fiction, an anarchical fallacy, nothing but bawling on paper, mere nonsense on stilts. He refers to the Natural Rights as Anarchical Fallacies mainly because firstly, there cannot exist rights anterior to law and he refers to rights as child of law . He repudiates the idea of natural inherent rights that pre-exist in a lawless society and believes that the only kind of rule or principle involved could be a legal one. Secondly, taking the instrumentalist view, a reading of rights as natural rights will only cause unrest, instability, disobedience and resistance to laws amongst the citizens. It is only positively established political rights, enforced by the government, that have any legitimate meaning. He thinks it absolutely preposterous to say that all men are born equals when in reality people are born into different social classes with different means and resources, putting one at a higher advantage than another; nonsensical to believe
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