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Lecture IV: the question of rights discussed.

  • Why it is necessary to define the term rights
  • -- the right in itself defined to be the good -- the doctrine that the will of God is the origin of the right considered -- the will of God not the origin of the right, but an expression of the right which is the good -- natural rights and acquired rights, each defined.

there are questions which lie back of this discussion — errors, as I think, which underlie the popular ideas of both government and rights. We should not consider that we had fully met the difficulties of the subject if we passed them by.

Domestic slavery, it is said, is an abridgment of inalienable rights; and legitimate government is a voluntary concession of certain alienable rights.

Natural rights are, of course, such as are inherent in the constitution of man : inalienable, because in point of fact he cannot be substantively deprived of them. The law which in any case provides to [78] do this, treats him as though he were not a rational, but a mere sentient being — and therein alienates his rights. Domestic slavery is said to treat the slave as a mere chattel, a thing, not an entity, and hence deprives him by provision of law of the right of being treated as a rational being as he is, and not a mere thing. This is said, because it places his time and labor at the disposal of another man. How far this reproach is just, turns upon a definite answer to the question--What are rights?

Government is a voluntary concession of certain alienable rights.” If this concession be made by the majority of the citizens, the government is called republican; if otherwise, it is called despotic. In this theory of government, certain rights are assumed to be given up, in order to secure other and more important rights. I have shown government to embody, of.necessity, two great abstract principles in harmonious operation — though, in their essential nature, the one antagonizes the other. Now the principle of slavery--control by the will of another--certainly operates an abridgment of the exercise of self-control, which is the principle of liberty. And so far as the principle of slavery operates, in any given instance of government, is that, in such instance, a giving up, to that extent, of the right of self-control, in order to secure a right to the self-control which remains [79] ungiven up? Is this so? This question, also turn upon the solution of that other question — What are rights?

And again, self-control, we say, is the principle of liberty. Practical freedom is the exercise of the right of self-control. How far does the right of self-control extend? I say that an instance in which a body of men emerged from a state of nature, (so called,) and formed a government by an original act, is unknown to history. It never occurred. Man was placed originally by Jehovah himself under political law. The very moment that he placed the first being in a relation to another by giving him a “helpmeet,” he gave him a law to govern that relation, as we have seen; and all the subsequent acts of men in the matter of government-making, have been such modifications of the existing form of government as they supposed would better suit their circumstances. But it is said that when society meets in convention to agree upon certain principles called a constitution, under which the laws shall be made, men do virtually, for the time being, resolve themselves into their original position or state without government; and that the constitution so formed is virtually an original formation. Well, for the sake of the argument, let it be so. When, therefore, society thus falls back upon its original [80] position, men stand upon the basis of what are supposed their original rights! What is that? Why, the right that each man has to do as he may please. They form a government: that is, give up a part, more or less, of their original right. Of course a part remains ungiven up, and the giving up cannot be to secure the possession of that which is already in possession! What is it that invests these questions with difficulty? Is it not the ambiguity of the term rights? Let us then define rights, if we would not be for ever entoiled by these absurdities.

And still again: Is liberty the right of self-control? Is not man — accountable man — free in virtue of his very humanity? Does this freedom imply absolute liberty? If so, absolute liberty is inherent in his very constitution — it is inalienable. What right, then, can he have to give it up, or any part of it? If so, he has the right to do that which subjectively he cannot do. If, then, government be a concession of the right of self-control in this sense, it is the concession of an inalienable right, and should be abandoned as a piece of folly.

It is entirely obvious, therefore, that we cannot advance in these inquiries at all without first settling the question, What are rights?

The English language is allowed to be one of great power, compass, and accuracy, and therefore [81] 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. Webster gives [82] correctly some forty different meanings of this term, together with several subordinate senses in which it occurs, all of which are in common use. Our language — and of what language is not the same true?--our literature, our theology, our politics — society on all sides — is bristling with rights! Now, is it not obvious that there must be some generic idea which classifies all the different meanings and applications of this term, and which has its foundation in the common sense, the common reason of all mankind?

If, then, we inquire what are our rights in any given case, this question directly involves that other and ultimate question, What is the right in itself? the solution of which solves at once the general question in regard to all cases. And although the case in which our rights may appear must be first in point of time before our minds, to call up our idea of the right, still our definite antecedent idea of the right is the logical condition on which we determine whether the right appears in that case.

Call then, to your mind, an instance of justice, and one of injustice: a case of virtue and a case of crime: an example of heroism and an example of weakness : does not each of these cases embody, the one class your idea of the right in itself, and the other your idea of the wrong in itself? [83] But your conception of the cases in which your antecedent idea of the right and the wrong appears, and your antecedent idea of that right and of that wrong, are very different ideas: that is, the case itself and your idea of the principle are distinct: the one a thing, the other an idea of something real. What, then, is your idea of the right, which is so distinct in your mind from the case in which it appears? Interrogate your reason and consciousness. Interrogate the reason and consciousness of all mankind.

Take this example: “The father of Caius Toranius had been proscribed by the triumvirate. Caius Toranius, coming over to the interest of that party, discovered to the officers who were in pursuit of his father the place where he concealed himself, and gave withal a description by which they might distinguish his person when they found him. The old man, more anxious for the safety and fortunes of his son than about the little that might remain of his own life, began immediately to inquire of the officers who seized him, whether his son were well, whether he had done his duty to the satisfaction of the generals. ‘ That son,’ replied one of the officers, ‘so dear to thy affections, betrayed thee to us: by his information thou art apprehended, and diest.’ The officer, with this, struck a poniard to his heart, and the [84] unhappy parent fell, not so much affected by his fate as by the means to which he owed it.” 1 Here is an example of the greatest filial impiety, and of the highest parental affection. The one fulfils our idea of the right, the other our idea of t/e wrong. Now, what is this idea of the right (and the wrong in which all are supposed to agree? We would not ask, with the disciple of Paley, of Condillac, or of Helvetius, what the “wild boy, caught years ago in the woods of Hanover,” would have thought of this case; nor what the savage, without experience and without instruction, cut off in his infancy from all intercourse with his species, would think of it. No: “the savage state offers us humanity in swaddling-clothes, so to speak — the germ of humanity, but not humanity entire. The true man is the perfect man of his kind: true human nature is human nature arrived at its development.” 2 We utterly deny that; in order to arrive at the judgment of human nature, we need consult a savage in such circumstances, or indeed to consult a savage at all. And yet we say that even a savage of good mind, who has lived long enough in society to get the idea of the relation of parent and child — such as even savages have — would pronounce the conduct of the one to [85] be right, and of the other to be wrong, and have a definite idea of that right and that wrong, each in itself. And we furthermore say, that human nature cultivated to the highest degree bears the same testimony to the difference in the conduct of this father and this son, and attaches essentially the same ideas to that difference. In calling the one right and the other wrong, men say, and they mean to say, that the one is good and the other is evil. This is the uniform judgment of human reason — the permanent belief of mankind. To this common sense bears ample testimony. Grammarians have not invented languages. Government itself dates back of legislators — they have only modified it. Philosophers have not invented beliefs: without concert, without conventions, the world has fallen upon certain beliefs, and certain signs to express these beliefs. In the secret chambers of the soul, not of any one individual man, but of all men individually, consciousness bears testimony that such and such is the belief of all men, and this we call the judgment of common sense; and such is also her testimony in all languages as to the thing that is right, and that the right in any given case is the idea, we have of the good in that case. The right, then, is the good.

“Right, rectus,” says Webster, “straightness, rectitude ;” which he explains to be conformity to [86] rule or law, and that the will of God is the ultimate rule or law which determines the right or the wrong in all cases. Hence conformity to this rule is the generic idea of the right in itself, according to Webster. In this view, Horne Tooke, in his Diversions of Purley, concurs. As his criticism is ingenious, instructive, and generally truthful, I quote the more material portion of his article on rights. After telling us in his dialogue that Johnson only informs us that right is not wrong, and wrong is not right, he adds:

H. Right is no other than RECTum, (regetum,) the past participle of the Latin verb regere, etc.

In the same manner, our English word just is the past participle of the verb jubere.

decree, Edict, Statute, Institute, Mandate, precept, are all past participles.

F. What then is law?

H. It is merely the past tense and past participle of the Gothic and Anglo-Saxon verb which means something or any thing laid down as a rule of conduct. Thus when a man demands his right, he asks only that which it is ordered he shall have. A right conduct is that which is ordered: a right reckoning is that which is ordered: a right line is that which is ordered or directed, (not a random extension, but) the shortest between two points : the right road is that ordered to be passed [87] (for the object you have in view:) to do right is to do that which is ordered to be done: to be in the right is to be in such situation or circumstances as are ordered: to have right or law on one's side is to have in one's favor that which is ordered or laid down: a right and just action is such an one as is ordered and commanded: a just man is such as he is commanded to be--qui leges juraque servat--who observes and obeys the things laid down or commanded; and the right hand is that which custom and those who have brought us up have ordered or directed us to use in preference, when one hand only is employed; and the left hand is that which is leaved, left, or which we are taught to leave out of use on such occasions. So that left, you see, is also a past participle.

F. Every thing, then, that is ordered and commanded is right and just?

H. Surely; for that is only affirming that what is ordered and commanded, is ordered and commanded.

F. Now what becomes of your vaunted rights of man? According to you, the chief merit of man is obedience; and whatever is ordered and commanded is right and just. This is pretty well for a democrat. And those have always been your sentiment? [88]

H. Always; and those sentiments confirm my democracy.

F. Those sentiments do not appear to have made you very conspicuous for obedience. There are not a few passages, I believe, in your life, where you have opposed what was ordered and commanded. Upon your principles, was that right?

H. Perfectly.

F . How now! Was it ordered and commanded that you should oppose what was ordered and commanded! Can the same thing be at the same time both right and wrong?

H. Travel back to Melinda, and you will find the difficulty easily solved. “(The people of Melinda are all left-handed, i. e., their right is our left. But they are as right-handed as we are; for they use that hand in preference which is ordered by their custom, and is therefore their right hand, and leave out of employ the other, which is, therefore, their left hand.)” A thing may be at the same time both right and wrong, as well as right and left. It may be commanded to be done and commanded not to be done. The law — that which is laid down--may be different by different authorities.

I have always been most obedient when most taxed with disobedience. But my right hand is not the right hand of Melinda. The right 1 [89] revere is not the right ordered by sycophants : the jus vagum, the capricious command of princes or ministers. I follow the law of God, (what is laid down by him for the rule of my conduct,) when I follow the laws of human nature: which without any human testimony we know must proceed front God; and upon these are founded the rights of man, or what is ordered for man. I revere the constitution and constitutional laws of England, because they are in conformity with the laws of God and nature; and upon these are founded the rational rights of Englishmen. If princes, or ministers, or the corrupt sham-representatives of the people, order, command, or lay down any thing contrary to that which is ordered, commanded, or laid down by God, human nature, or the constitution of this government, I will still hold fast by the higher authorities. If the meaner authorities are offended, they can only destroy the body of the individual, but never can affect the right, or that which is ordered by their superiors.3

Thus he is found to agree with Webster, that the will of God is the ultimate genus of the right. That is right, which conforms to the will of God as laid down in law--whether that law be a written revelation, nature, or the customs of society, (as in [90] the case of the right and left hand,) as the exponent of that will — they are what is ordered in the case, and make the right. Hence he condemns as “wretched mummery” the distinction admitted by M. Portalis, between obedience to a command, and obedience to what is right and just in itself, and, on the same ground, pronounces it “highly improper” to say, with Mr. Locke, “God has a right to do it: we are his creatures.” For truly if his will be the ultimate genus of right, then he can have no rights, for there is certainly no superior to whose commands he conforms in the acts of his will. But precisely at this point let us take our stand. I affirm on the authority of Scripture, no less than sound philosophy, (always in harmony,) that God has rights, and that the distinction of M. Portalis is in many instances correct; and that hence Tooke, Dr. Paley, (who also concurs in this view — see his article Rights, in his Moral Philosophy,) Dr. Webster, with many others of great distinction, strangely err, not in their etymology of this word, but in that hypothesis by which they make it a significate of the will of God. We cannot agree with then that rights and duties which are reciprocal, are resolvable only into the will of God--have his will alone for their ultimate foundation. I take ground back of this. True, I say with them — and I claim full [91] credit in the declaration — that the volitions, the acts of God, are always right; but I do not say that his will makes the essential or true distinction between right and wrong. We dare not assume that God, could, by an act of volition, make the right to be the wrong, and the wrong to be the right--good evil, and evil good! It is absurd to assume that God can do things that are in themselves contradictory. Omnipotent, we know, he is; but such things are not the objects of power, any more than things which are the objects of power, are, in the same sense, the objects of Omniscience. To affirm that he could make the right to be the wrong, is as false as it would be impious to affirm that he would do it, if he could — false, because, if he can, he has not deposited the truth in that great master-work of his hand, the mind of man; for, by the power of the intuition he has given us, we are assured that the idea is in itself a gross absurdity. And if this be not decisive of the question, then neither intuition nor the deductions of intuition are of any authority. Man is the victim of a false guide within! He may “eat and drink, for to-morrow he dies!” There will be no more of him; or, what is worse, he is but a link in a chain of sentient beings who are governed by a cruel fate, which regards not the distinctions of right and wrong; and he may [92] be the sport of wickedness in the world to come, as he has been the victim of deception in this! I think it more than error to reason thus! I think it profane!

We may take ground back of this — ground as honorable to God as it is exalting to man and encouraging to his hopes. It is true, that both rectitude and duty, together with liberty, are resolvable into the essential good. Or, in other words, freedom, rectitude, and duty are the modes of thought in which we conceive of the good as existing in the soul of man, and that they are, each of them, in their distinct nature and harmonious union, the true ideal of the good — the modes of thought, also, in which the intuition of man perceives the good in the case of every moral action which is good. And concerning the good in itself which is thus in an humble degree perceived by us, it is certainly a reality which is immutable and eternal. God did not make it — nor was it made. It is of the essential nature of God, and eternal. He is the great impersonation of the good. His will, his volitions, in all cases, are but the expressions of this high attribute. His will, therefore, always conforming to the essential good, is a perfect rule of what is right in itself, and proper to be observed by us, as a rule of duty or conduct. Such a rule, it will be seen, is eminently adapted to [93] the wants of humanity; but, at the same time, his will and the good are different realities. The one is an essential quality of his holy nature, and the other is, to a certain extent, an expression of this attribute in the form of volitions. That the will of God did not make the right in itself, will readily appear. Is it to be conceived that there ever was a period in eternity past, when truth was not truth, or when truth did not exist? when the good was not the good, or when the good did not exist? But does it not accord with the clearest teachings of reason, that the truth always was the truth, and ever will be the truth? that the good always will be the good? That two and two are equal to four; that to affirm a thing to be and not to be at the same time is an absurdity and a contradiction; and that things equal to one and the same thing are equal to one another, we say are all intuitive truths — we cannot be mistaken about them. So also in morals: that the truth is good; that virtue is good; that a good action is not an evil action; and that to affirm that a good action is not a good action is an absurdity, a contradiction, we say, are all intuitions — we cannot be mistaken about them. But is it not equally intuitive that these things were always so — that these truths were always truths — the good was always the good, just as certainly as that they are so [94] now? Then the eternity of these things is just as certainly an intuition, as that they exist now is an intuition. Hence the eternity of God, who is the great impersonation of this high quality, or whose attribute it is, is an intuitive truth. Hence his will did not make it, for it is absurd to say that he made himself. His will, therefore, which, in given cases, is his volition, is but the expression of this essential quality of his holy nature. Hence his will is a rule of right, because in all cases it conforms to the good, but it did not make the good.

Therefore the right, as it conforms to the essential good, is of the nature of the good. It is properly a significate of the good, and not a significate of the will of God. Things agreeing with one and the same thing agree with each other. Hence it coincides with the will of God. But such coincidence does not constitute any thing right in itself; but it is because, like the will of God, it conforms to, or is of the nature of, the essential good, that it is right. The Rigit then, in itself, is the good. The good is the true generic idea which classifies all the different applications of this term. So far as any thing is of the nature of the good, it is in itself right. So far as any thing, to which the idea of the right applies, is negative of then good, i. e., is evil, it is wrong. [95]

The good, therefore, as an ultimate genus, is much more extensive in meaning than the right. It extends to all physical as well as moral good. Our subject requires us to consider it only so far as it applies to humanity. And how far is this? When Jehovah created man, he pronounced him to be “very good,” i. e., essentially good in the attributes of his nature. He was created in “his own image: in the image of God created he him.” “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” That is, he was created a pure spiritual intelligence. He had a clear and correct perception and judgment of pure abstract truth, and of the relations of truth; with the corresponding feelings of obligation to duty, and a power of will sufficient to control the mental states within the sphere of its operations. Now, as a pure intelligence, thus endowed, he is within the limits of his capacity a cause within himself — strictly a self-acting agent, and hence accountable. And as he was created with a feeling of obligation to observe the good as a rule in all his conduct, he was created a subject of duty — he was under obligation to do, to act; and as in each of these respects, and in all others, he was created in conformity with the essential good, he was rectus, right. All this is implied in [96] that declaration of his essential nature, as a pure spiritual intelligence, (who was therein made in the image of God,) which defined him to be “very good.” Nor can we think of this good as a quality or attribute of humanity, without being conscious, if we reflect closely, of associating in our minds the idea that the being who personates it is for that reason free; that for that reason he is rectus, straight, conformed to the good as the rule, that is, right; and that for the same reason he is under obligation — it is his duty to act according to that rule. Every instance of moral action that is good implies these ideas: it is free, it is rectus, straight, and it is done in accordance with duty. In the same sense in which life, sense, and motion enter into and so form the comprehension of the creature, animal; so liberty, rectitude, and duty form the comprehension of moral good, so far as it applies to humanity. These are distinct ideas. Still they coincide, and either implies the others as correlatives. Hence we say of a free action that it is good, implying that it is at the same time rectus, and done in accordance with duty; and of an action in conformity to a proper rule, that it is good, implying at the same time that it is free, and done in accordance with duty; and also of an action in compliance with duty, that it is good, implying that it is also free, and straight, i. e., [97] conformed to rule: thus in each case we imply the correlative ideas.

Now, whatever is in my possession by natural endowment is mine, in the strictest sense. Hence, freedom is mine, duty is mine, and rectitude is mine, because the good is mine, and those are the elements of the good, each one implying the others.

Hence arises the idea of natural right: that is, the right with which I am endowed by the constitution of my nature as a rational being. But what is that right? Evidently, the good. The good as an attribute is in my possession. I am constituted with it and by it. Hence it is inalienable. Divest me of the good as an attribute of my nature, i. e., liberty, rectitude, and duty, and I sink at once in the scale of being: I cease altogether to be a rational or accountable being.

Let no one imagine that this position conflicts with the well-known fact that man is a fallen being. For although fallen, he is still accountable. True, his moral nature is in ruins, but still it is a moral nature. Though disordered, it is not eradicated. Hence the restoration by grace is called a conversion; but if the essential moral nature of man had been destroyed by the fall, and an attribute of essential evil had taken the place of it, his restoration could not be called, as it is, a [98] change, but should be called in the strictest sense an original creation. Hence, although man is fallen, depraved — and we need not object to the strong terms in which this depravity is usually expressed — still we find that the sentiment of all mankind is on the side of virtue, on the side of the good; and that men, though unchanged by sovereign grace, are still required to be honest, gentlemanly, and in all things regardful of each other's rights. We admit of exceptions or modifications of this only in the case of those in whom humanity has not been fully developed, as before noticed, and those in civilized life who have so far abused their moral nature as, in the language of Paul, to fit themselves for destruction. Therefore, it still remains that the good in the form of rectitude, right, is in some modification an endowment of my nature: the right, in itself, is mine by nature.

But the good, as an attribute, is an active principle. We were endowed with it for the purpose of movement — for results. It is my duty to act right--straight or in accordance with the good as a rule. Hence, whatever is a necessary condition of the operation of this active principle, the essential good, is in itself a good which is either in my possession, and hence is mine by possession; or it ought to be in my possession, and hence is mine [99] by just title, Hence, to breathe, under all circumstances, together with all physical motion and the sustenance of the body, which involves the right of property to a certain extent, each in given circumstances, is the natural right of every one. So also the right of the embryo-man, the idiot, the imbecile, the uncivilized, or the savage, to protection and defence, is a natural right; and for the same reason, to be protected and defended from certain helpless conditions by others, is the natural right of every one in all states of humanity. Because each of these, and of all similar things, is in itself good, being a necessary condition of the operation of the essential good, and is either in our possession or ought to be in our possession; each one is also a natural right, the good that is or ought to be in our possession.

But there are acquired rights.

It is the duty of man to act, from the very fact that he is endowed with the attribute of the good, which envelops the idea of duty. He also has power to act from the very same natural constitution. Now, if he use this power as duty and rectitude indicate that he should do, all nature teaches, what the Bible confirms, that he will glorify God, i. e., exemplify his goodness, and therein promote his own happiness and the happiness of those with whom he is associated; or, in [100] other words, he will secure for himself and confer upon his fellows eminent benefits resulting from the performance of his duty. Now, whatever results to him in this way is certainly his by possession, or by Divine grant, as much so as any natural right; but these benefits, being of the nature of the essential good, (for the reason that they are benefits, are in themselves right,) result to him in the performance of his duty, and therefore are his rights. But the acquisition is made to depend upon the exercise of his arbitrary volition. If he use this in pursuance of duty, they follow. If he use it in violation of duty, they do not follow. Hence, if he realize them at all, either by possession or by title, they are acquired, and therefore are acquired rights or benefits.

Therefore, acquired rights may be defined, such good, in the form of benefits or privileges, as results from the performance of duty. Logically, they belong to the class of the essential good called benefits or privileges, with the “essential difference” that they are such as result from the performance of duty. Any other result, though in itself of the nature of the essential good, yet, as it conferred no benefit, could not be said to be our right. Capital punishment, for example, when in accordance with the Divine will, is in itself of the nature of the essential good; still, it would be an [101] abuse of language to say, in any ordinary case, that it was the right of the criminal to be hung! because for no reason that we can imagine does it confer any benefit or privilege upon the criminal. To be acquired rights, therefore, they must not only be of the nature of the good — that is, actual benefits — but this good must result from the performance of duty, and not from the non-performance of duty, as in the example given.

The definition corresponds with the language of common sense. All men, in speaking of cases which are supposed to involve the question of rights, employ the term in this sense. You say, of a farmer in a given case, that he had no right to an abundant harvest: why? because he neglected his farm: his lands were not properly prepared, and the growing crop was left open to depredations from stock: that is, he neglected his duty; he had no right to the benefit of an abundant harvest. And again, you say to a neighbor, You should have paid a certain sum of money to A., in a given case. He had a right to the money, because he complied with the conditions on which the money was to be paid. He did his duty, and therefore had a right to the money. Thus, the neglect of duty negatives right in the one case, and the performance affirms it in the other, according to the common usage of language. [102]

Another idea which clearly enters into the common and correct use of this term is that it is reciprocal with obligation: that is, wherever there is a right in one person, there is a corresponding obligation, duty, upon others. If one man has a right to an estate, others are under obligation, that is, it is their duty to abstain from it. If the letting of it alone be the result of duty on the part of others, the enjoyment of it by him must also result from duty on his part, or the ideas do not coincide: that which was duty in one set of men would not be duty in another, in regard to the same thing, and in correlative circumstances. This would be absurd: therefore, the duty of one set of men to let another alone in the enjoyment of a certain benefit, implies the correlative idea that they enjoy the benefit in virtue of doing their duty. Hence, those benefits which are our rights result to us from the performance of our duty.

The points established in this discussion are:

1. That conformity to what is ordered or commanded is not the true generic idea of the right in itself. What is ordered or commanded can only interpret the right, when the command itself conforms to the essential good, as in the case of the Divine will. This is always right, because it so conforms, or is always an expression of the essential good. [103]

Hence, the good is the true generic idea of the right. This alone can interpret the right in any case. Therefore, although man, in virtue of his constitution as a pure intelligence, has the power to do wrong he has not, and never can have, the right to do wrong. For wrong is the negative of right; and any thing, whether attribute, quality, opinion, doctrine, or act — every thing, whether moral or physical — to be right, must be of the nature of the good: all else is wrong, not right. And it farther follows, that the only true subjective right which any man has to exercise his power of self-control, is in doing that which is good, and not in doing that which is evil.

2. The natural rights of man are,

First--The essential good in his possession by natural endowment, and which is therefore inalienable. And, Second--The necessary conditions, whatever they may be, of the operation of the inherent good as an active principle. Some of these are inalienable, and others are alienable. To this view of natural rights the common usage of language conforms.

3. The acquired rights of man are, such good, in the form of benefits or privileges, as results to him from the performance of duty.

1 Paley's Philosophy.--Moral Science.

2 M. Cousin.

3 See his whole article on Rights.

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