In Nonsense upon Stilts¸ first published in 1987, Waldron 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. Each text is prefaced by an historical introduction and an analysis of its main themes. The collection as a whole in introduced with an essay tracing the philosophical background to the three critiques as well as the eighteenth-century idea of natural rights which they attacked.
But the point of reproducing these works is not merely historical. Modern attacks on ‘rights-based’ political philosophy mirror the concerns of Bentham, Burke and Marx. Jeremy Waldron has therefore added an extensive concluding essay which relates these classic texts to the modern discussion of rights and re-examines the idea of rights in the light of contemporary critiques. This text provides an invaluable teaching tool for courses in politics and philosophy.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Natural rights in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 2. The ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen’ 1789 3. Jeremy Bentham’s ‘Anarchical Fallacies’ 4. Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’ 5. Karl Marx’s ‘On the Jewish Question 6. Nonsense upon stilts?- a reply; Notes; Bibliographical Essay; Name Index; Study Index
Jeremy Waldron is Professor of Law at the New York University Law School and Chichele Professor in Social and Political Theory at All Souls College University of Oxford Columbia University.