Franklin's Double Take on Rights

in Playing the Fool

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226473154
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226473178 | DOI:
Franklin's Double Take on Rights

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An important figure in politics and science, Benjamin Franklin is also an effective communicator, a master of irony and double meaning. Franklin is a bearer of messages, teaching through maxims and his own exemplary life. Yet the messages he delivers are put forward in masquerade, a strategy that paradoxically adds to the charm of his presentations and introduces a degree of uncertainty about the message itself. Even as readers are led to laugh at his stories and foibles and odd mouthpieces, Franklin works on them through indirection and insinuation. But he strangely shifts the burden of getting the message to the reader. With respect to his writings, it appears that he resorts to the language of rights, liberties, privileges, and duties. However, the more important issue is to determine the import he gives to those terms.

Keywords: politics; Benjamin Franklin; irony; double meaning; rights; liberties; privileges; duties

Chapter.  8885 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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