eminently adapted to reasoning.
It derives this quality in a good degree from its flexibility, the different varieties of idea, and often the different shades of meaning in these varieties that may be expressed by one word.
No language is supposed to compare with it in this respect.
But whilst this adapts it to the purpose of correct reasoning, it opens also a wide field for errors in argument.
Men usually differ widely in opinion
, but they do not often differ in sentiment.
All intelligent and good men feel right
, and mean right
. They often differ in opinion because they differ in the meaning they attach to the language, the same language, which is the medium through which each views the same subject.
Different men use the same word in different senses.
The same man often uses the same word by habit in different senses in the same connection.
They come to different conclusions, of course, and the same man often entoils himself by his own argument.
Now, there are few words with which men have more to do in discussions and opinions about liberty and government — the next most important matters to personal religion — than with the word rights;
and there are few words which are capable of more varied application, and which are in truth oftener applied to express different shades of meaning, than this word rights