Nonsense Upon Stilts: Bentham, Burke and Marx on the Rights of Man

What are rights and who can grant them? Can they be taken away? Are they defined and prescribed by law, or are they inherent in nature? In this long-awaited new edition of Nonsense upon Stilts , Jeremy Waldron addresses all of these enduring and timely questions and examines fundamental but seldom read texts in the literature on human rights. He includes and discusses extracts from three classic critiques of the idea of natural rights embodied in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen : Bentham's Anarchical Fallacies , Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France and Marx's On the Jewish Question . Each text is prefaced by a historical introduction and an analysis of its main themes, showing how these issues are as pertinent and controversial today as they were at the time of the French Revolution. The collection as a whole is introduced with an essay tracing the philosophical background to the three critiques as well as the idea of natural rights which they attacked. Over twenty years after the publication of the first edition, Waldron has revisited Nonsense upon Stilts to relate these classic texts to the modern discussion of rights, addressing topical issues such as individual rights versus public security in the context of the war on terror; the impact of economic globalisation on human rights; and the difficulty of defining universal human rights across diverse cultures and religious systems and in a variety of very different human situations.