Portrait of Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke, Legislatures, and the Balance between Good and Evil

Found in: Select Works of Edmund Burke, vol. 2

Edmund Burke famously argued against the sort of abstract understanding of rights used by French Revolutionaries as justification for throwing off established political institutions. But as Whig, and a defender of England’s common law tradition, he was no enemy to the idea of rights:


The rights of men in governments are their advantages; and these are often in balances between differences of good; in compromises sometimes between good and evil, and sometimes, between evil and evil. (FROM: Reflections on the Revolution in France)