Essays of William Graham Sumner - Vol. 1

By William Graham Sumner; Albert Galloway Keller et al. | Go to book overview

RIGHTS1

THE notion that there are such things as "natural" rights is due to the fact that rights originate in the mores, and may remain there long before they can be formulated (because it requires some mental development to be able to formulate them) in philosophical propositions, or in laws. The notion of "natural" rights is the notion that rights have independent authority in absolute right, so that they are not relative or contingent, but absolute.

The interests of men always clash in the competition of life. It is inevitable, on account of the organization of society, that this should be so. Even in the lowest form of the division of labor, that between the sexes, independent interests clash in the distribution of the products. The man there carries his point, if necessary, with the help of the other men, and a precedent is established by force, which through subsequent repetition becomes a law, and carries in itself a definition of rights between men and women.

The question of right or rights can arise only in the in-group.2 All questions with outsiders are settled by war. It is meritorious to rob outsiders of property or women, or to invade any of their interests; it is meritorious also to repel and punish any efforts of theirs to invade the interests of one's group-comrades. War with group-comrades is "wrong," because it lessens the power of the in-group for war with outsiders. Here, then, is

____________________
1
Written between 1900 and 1906.
2
Sumner, W. G., Folkways, §§15 ff.

-358-

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Essays of William Graham Sumner - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • How Sumner Impressed a Graduate Student Who Never Met Him xv
  • Autobiographical Sketch of William Graham Sumner 3
  • The Teacher's Unconscious Success 6
  • Purposes and Consequences 11
  • Discipline 20
  • Integrity in Education 36
  • The Scientific Attitude of Mind 43
  • Religion and the Mores 55
  • The Mores of the Present and the Future 73
  • The American Code 89
  • The Absurd Effort to Make the World Over 91
  • The Abolition of Poverty 107
  • Foreword to "Lynch-Law" 112
  • Witchcraft 114
  • War 136
  • Earth Hunger or the Philosophy of Land Grabbing 174
  • The Bequests of the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth 208
  • The Family and Social Change 236
  • Modern Marriage 255
  • Is Liberty a Lost Blessing? 285
  • Who is Free? is It the Savage? 290
  • Liberty and Responsibility 310
  • Rights 358
  • Some Natural Rights 363
  • Some Points in the New Social Creed 369
  • An Examination of a Noble Sentiment 374
  • The Banquet of Life 379
  • The Boon of Nature 384
  • Land Monopoly 390
  • A Group of Natural Monopolies 396
  • Another Chapter on Monopoly 400
  • The Family Monopoly 405
  • The Family and Property 410
  • Equality 421
  • The Demand for Men 424
  • The Significance of the Demand for Men 430
  • What the "Social Question" Is 435
  • What Emancipates 442
  • Power and Progress 448
  • Consequences of Increased Social Power 454
  • Who Win by Progress? 460
  • The Forgotten Man 466
  • A Parable 497
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