Here therefore is one instance of the application of the terms just and unjust

Here therefore is one instance of the application of

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Here, therefore, is one instance of the application of the terms just and unjust in a perfectly definite sense, namely, that it is just to respect, unjust to violate, the legal rights of any one. But this judgment admits of several exceptions, arising from the other forms in which the notions of justice and injustice present themselves. For example, the person who suffers the deprivation may (as the phrase is) have forfeited the rights which he is so deprived of : a case to which we shall return presently. But also, Secondly ; the legal rights of which he is deprived, may be rights which ought not to have belonged to him ; in other words, the law which confers on him these rights, may be a bad law. When it is so, or when (which is the same thing for our purpose) it is supposed to be so, opinions will differ as to the justice or injustice of infringing it. Some maintain that no law, however bad, ought to be disobeyed by an indi vidual citizen ; that his opposition to it, if shown at all, should only be shown in endeavouring to get it altered by competent authority. This opinion (which condemns many of the most illustrious benefactors of mankind, and would often protect pernicious institu tions against the only weapons which, in the state of things existing at the time, have any chance of suc ceeding against them) is defended, by those who hold it, on grounds of expediency ; principally on that of the importance, to the common interest of mankind, of maintaining inviolate the sentiment of submission to law. Other persons, again, hold the directly con trary opinion, that any law, judged to be bad, may
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66 UTILITARIANISM. blamelessly be disobeyed, even though- it be not judged to be unjust, but only inexpedient ; while others would confine the licence of disobedience to the case of unjust laws : but again, some say, that all laws which are inexpedient are unjust ; since every law imposes some restriction on the natural liberty of mankind, which restriction is an injustice, unless legitimated by tending to their good. Among these diversities of opinion, it seems to be universally ad mitted that there may be unjust laws, and that law, consequently, is not the ultimate criterion of justice, but may give to one person a benefit, or impose on another an evil, which justice condemns. When, however, a law is thought to be unjust, it seems always to be regarded as being so in the same way in which a breach of law is unjust, namely, by infring ing somebody's right ; which, as it cannot in this case be a legal right, receives a different appellation, and is called a moral right. We may say, therefore, that a second case of injustice consists in taking or with holding from any person that to which he has a moral right. Thirdly, it is universally considered just that each person should obtain that (whether good or evil) which he deserves ; and unjust that he should obtain a good, or be made to undergo an evil, which he does not deserve. This is, perhaps, the clearest and most emphatic form in which the idea of justice is con ceived by the general mind. As it
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