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RIGHTS

right of the murdered man to live is a positive proposition, capable of some ethical discussion and elaboration, but not capable of enactment in the form of a statute. The right to property is a positive proposition implicit in the prohibition of stealing, but no legislature could enact the right of property in a modern statute. It follows that the "rights" are philosophical propositions implicit in the taboos, and to the modern way of thinking, they seem to be assumed in them; but they were never formulated or thought by anybody before the taboo was started. Hence the modern philosophers invented the notion of "natural" rights to bring in the jural notions in advance of the law. In the American Declaration of Independence, the first paragraph is made up of propositions in political philosophy to serve as a basis of right for the secession of the colonies from the British Empire; they might all be admitted and yet not justify the secession. The Southerners clung to the dogmas and were led by them to believe that secession could be proved in debate, or deduced rationally in logic, but it is entirely impossible to establish rationally a right of revolution; it would be establishing a state on the prime doctrine of anarchy. So it seems that the notions of rights, which are logically antecedent to laws, never can be put into laws. They must remain in the mores, and may be discussed in philosophy, but can be reduced to formulas not at all, or only very imperfectly.

In our times, the phraseology of rights is so current in the mores and in political discussion, that almost every proposition drops into that form. Every civilized state now contains groups who are recalcitrant and protesting, expressing their pain in terms of violated rights. They were the weaker parties in some collision of interests. There had to be a decision at last because life must go