The Declaration Of The Rights Of Man And Citizen

1554 Words7 Pages
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, adopted in 1789 by the National Assembly, explicitly defines “the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man” (Declaration, p. 1). Two philosophers, Jeremy Bentham and Karl Marx, object the document, especially its usage of natural rights, by presenting different arguments against its language and function. Bentham centers his argument around the Declaration’s promotion of anti-legal rights and its vagueness in description in his essay “Anarchical Fallacies.” Marx criticizes the Declaration’s perpetuation of social alienation and for not pursuing human emancipation in “On the Jewish Question.” Of the two arguments, Marx presents a better and more convincing argument than Bentham. Marx advocates for complete human emancipation beyond political emancipation whereas Bentham does not go beyond the criticism of the legislators, of their use of language and design, as opposed to the law itself. Bentham encapsulates his entire argument against the Declaration by saying “natural rights is simple nonsense, —nonsense upon stilts” (Nonsense, 53). Throughout his entire essay, Bentham actively argues the rhetorical nonsense throughout which the Declaration uses. The basis behind his argument is that rights cannot exist without law. The Declaration contradicts this by asserting that human beings are naturally born with a set of inalienable rights that may not be infringed upon by anyone else. He writes, “That there are no such things
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