Portrait of Benjamin Constant

Benjamin Constant on the difference between rights and utility (1815)

Found in: Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments

The French-Swiss political theorist Benjamin Constant (1767-1830) thought Jeremy Bentham confused cause and effect when he rejected the idea of natural rights:

Natural Rights

Right is a principle; utility is only a result. Right is a cause; utility is only an effect.

To wish to make right subject to utility is like making the eternal laws of arithmetic subject to our everyday interests.